Doesn’t it feel great to be in the homestretch of a full year of in-person events? Overall this has been a very strong year for fundraising events. While most clients are experiencing lower attendance at their galas compared to pre-pandemic years, in many cases more money is being raised with fewer guests.
In the midst of a strong comeback year for in-person events, there have been those extra special event nights when the expectations of everyone have been exceeded – even for those of us from Ann Plans. The VocalEssence Gala at the Hilton Minneapolis in late September was one of those magical nights where the guest experience was amazing and the fundraising in the room blew us away.
Here are some of the factors that contributed to the success of the recent VocalEssence Gala, the organization’s first in-person gala since 2018:
Surprising and delighting. The guest arrival plan set the stage for a fun and high-energy evening. Guests were greeted by singers on the escalators and complimentary welcome cocktails featuring DuNord Spirits.
Online auction. The silent auction performed extremely well despite having fewer items than previous VocalEssence auctions. Opening the auction for online bidding five days before the event made it possible for anyone to participate, and more than half the bidding activity happened prior to event day!
Exciting photo opportunity. The attractive and eye-catching photo backdrop, combined with props and printed photo strips, made for a fun activity that generated a lot of social media activity. Guests lined up for this opportunity during the whole reception!
Fast-paced program. All speaking segments and the video were scripted to be in the 3-5 minute range to keep the program moving along. The teleprompter helped keep everyone focused and on script.
An emcee with passion. Torrie Allen, Vice President of the VocalEssence Board of Directors, was the perfect choice to host the program. He is articulate, funny, and spoke with heart and passion about the impact the VocalEssence programs have on the lives of individuals and our community.
Guest participation. A post-dinner singalong was a fun and effective way to involve guests in the program and amp up the energy in the room leading into the live auction.
Well-curated live auction. Guests loved the live auction items which included vacation stays at stunning properties in Palm Desert, California and Jackson Hole, Wyoming – both donated by long-time supporters of VocalEssence. A Downton Abbey-themed cocktail party hosted by vocalist Maria Jette and VocalEssence founder Philip Brunelle sold two times; instantly raising double!
Precommitments. This year’s fund-a-need was the strongest in the history of the VocalEssence Gala thanks to the pre-event work focused on securing large precommitted gifts and having the right people in the room.
Amazing video. The video shown right before the fund-a-need captured the heart and soul of who VocalEssence is and set the stage for strong fundraising. Kudos to VocalEssence for being open to starting the video planning process several months in advance of the event.
Many mission moments. The program was infused with messaging about why singing together matters and performances by some of the organization’s ensembles including VocalEssence Singers Of This Age (VESOTA), the dynamic group made up of young people from Twin Cities high schools.
This month, as Ann Plans observes our 15th anniversary, we are appreciative more than ever to be part of such a generous community. We are grateful to the wonderful nonprofit organizations who invite us to be part of their mission and our terrific vendor partners.
Thank you to each of you for your friendship and partnership in making these first 15 years rewarding beyond anything we could have imagined.