Tips & Tricks for a Stress-Free Non-Profit Gala

The day has finally come, the day you’ve been planning for months – the non-profit gala! The first key to a successful gala is creating a timeline. If you’ve followed your timeline religiously from day one, there shouldn’t be any need for “tricks” to a stress-free event: you’ve done all the preparatory work, and now you can reap the rewards for your non-profit or non-profit client.

Yet, we all know that SOMETHING will happen that could stress you – or your boss or client. So here are a few things I’ve learned to keep the stress at bay:

– Know your timeline and run of show. Memorize it. Know what is happening at every moment from the time you wake up on gala day until the time you hand out the gratuities and crawl into your bed. This will save you time when you are inevitably asked “when is the florist showing up?” “where is the band?” “why aren’t the auction tables set up in the pre-function space yet?!” You can respond immediately and impress those around you with your calm.

– Review your day-of-event checklist (you do have one, right?) with your team the day prior to the event, or whenever you are packing supplies. Actually check-off the items as you pack them, and re-check them when you arrive at the venue to unpack. To that end, make sure at least one staff member stays at the office until you’ve arrived at the venue and unpacked, to quickly gather any items you still need.


– Bring extra copies of all scripts, Run-of-Show documents, contact lists (and this should include not only office but mobile numbers, as well as a back-up to that contact) for all your vendors, speakers, VIP guests and any other people critical to the smooth functioning of the event.

– Work with one person on your staff to be YOUR personal back-up, and train them and ensure they know the event as well as you do. This will allow you to deal with last-minute crises (and there will be at least one), and still have everything else run smoothly. Let your team and the venue team(s) know who this person is and make introductions when arriving at the venue, if not before.

– Review your contingency plan with your entire team and venue contact well in advance of the event; make sure the team knows what to do in different situations, and how to keep the entire event on schedule (or, in the worst case scenario, how to cancel/postpone and your communication messaging around that).

– Eat well and get a good night sleep the two nights prior to the event. Just like running a race, you need to fuel your body with healthy, clean foods, and make sure to get as much rest as possible. This will position you to be alert and ready for your event.


– ENJOY IT! For many event planners, it’s about scrolling through the timeline and getting to the end, but enjoy the event. You’ve worked hard for it, you’ve checked off all the boxes, so take the time to be proud of your work. Tomorrow you will get back to the checklist with the post-event plans, but taking time at the end of the night to quickly jot down what worked, what didn’t, and what can improve the next time will go a long way to ensuring future continued success.

Need help to develop a stress-free non-profit gala, tasting event, or run/walk? Contact us and let us help!

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