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Planning the Program

No event is the same. And, there’s no one-size-fits all timeline for events and galas. But, there are what us ‘fundraising extraordinaire’s’ like to call ‘Best Practices’ which guide us through the process of constructing a well-orchestrated event.

As the fall and winter event seasons approach, we’re sure you’re plate is filling up. And, if you’re reading this, you’re probably about 3-5 months out from your OWN event or gala. There are a million small details to iron out before the event date. Table settings, dinner options, fund-a-need levels. Solicitation and procurement, sponsors and …where do you even start? 

Best Practices tell us that 3-5 months out is the time to nail down the live program details, as sponsorship’s, item procurement, etc. are (in theory) already underway….. The Live Program is your opportunity as an organization to utilize storytelling, create a sense of achievement and community, to continue the celebration AND the entertainment!

One of the most important factors of your gala is differentiating it from the others in your area. Consider first, creating the right emotional environment. Get crystal clear on your emotional appeal! Use videos showing the group that you serve and keynote speakers with expert level knowledge of that group and how they have been affected since your organization began fundraising.

Your donors are WAY more likely to give in higher amounts if the following two rules are followed in your program. 

1.Show your IMPACT. How are your donor’s dollars creating change? What will this provide to the community you serve?

2.Celebrate the change your donors have already contributed to. That’s really one of the purposes of your whole event (not just your program)… is to celebrate the progress you have made thanks to your supporters.

After the emotional environment is set, the live-program should seamlessly lead your audience into an exciting and engaging auction. Auction Frogs has created the ultimate live-program checklist for you! Remember this is not a one-size fits all checklist, so take a few minutes to make this checklist unique to your event! 

Live Program CHECKLIST: 

3-5 months pre-event 

Emotional Environment:

❐ Emotional Appeal: get crystal clear on yours BEFORE anything else

❐ Secure Keynote Speaker

❐ Video’s (you may need to ask your venue how to prepare videos for their AV setup)

❐ Cover the fundamentals

Covering the fundamentals is just a matter of scheduling volunteers strategically and openly communicating and planning with your vendors. Don’t let a long check-in line or lack of food ruin the experience for your guests! 

Live Auction:


❐ Create your auction timeline

What time does set up start? When will take-down begin? How about cashiering check out? Even down to the order of items on display matter to create the BEST event possible. 

Paddle Raise:

❐ What levels do you want your Paddle Raise to start and end with?

Consider your fundraising goal and how many donors in each tier you need to reach it! 

❐ Secure your Paddle Raise Donors

Nope, we didn’t add this one in by mistake. We suggest getting a couple donors at each level well in advance of your event. People are more likely to donate to your cause at high levels IF they know that others are doing the same! Also, getting commitments from donors ahead of time will allow you to announce those that couldn’t make the event. 

❐ Tell Auctioneer about pre-committed donors in the Paddle Up.

Auction Frogs offers one on one consulting with our event experts for brainstorming, logistical management suggestions, best practices for registration and check out processes or learn how to maximize dollars in the room through RETHINKING the fundraiser, not reinventing it.  Please feel free to reach out support@auctionfrogs.org for  more information or schedule time with our event consultants.