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Virtual Gala Guide
Best Practices for Virtual Galas
Guaranteed To Add Value 

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VIRTUAL GALA – We work with Non-Profits all over the country. In 2019 we conducted over 65 events across 14 states. This year was on track to be a record-breaking year and like everything – it came to a complete stop.  Now, despite social distancing and a pandemic; The good work your non-profit contributes to your community does not stop. From this Virtual Galas were created. 


A virtual gala is a fundraising event that is online and live streamed to viewers at home. Viewers are able to watch your program just like they were at your event in person. 

With the social distancing requirements amid COVID-19, more and more nonprofits are opting to host an online fundraising event or virtual gala instead of postponing or canceling their events. You can still meet your fundraising requirements without live events.

SUCCESS STORY:  At our first virtual gala event, our client grossed $80,000 more at their virtual event than they did the year prior.  A big factor was that they did not have the added expenses of renting a hotel ballroom, feeding 600 people, decorations and all that goes with a live event.

While we hope live event fundraising comes back soon - virtual galas are a safe alternative!


VIRTUAL GALA FUNDRAISING - It’s simple, but it ain’t easy.

You can engage more people all year with a virtual gala 
At live-event gala’s you are limited to the number of people who buy a ticket. A virtual gala can reach anyone. Your most passionate donors can now invite everyone in their own network to join and learn more about your organization.  You can host your event any night of the week, you have a captive audience. 


A Virtual Gala Cost Less 
You can eliminate catering, decorations, venue space and countless non-essential amenities. We do suggest retaining your Auctioneer and utilizing an AV company to manage your livestream production.


Shorter Time Commitment 
Traditional events can last over 4 hours. A virtual gala should last 45 minutes to 1 hour. The virtual gala will have a lot of similar elements to your traditional event. 
Every second should have purpose. Your messaging must be clear and concise. 


Content is Key
Hosting a live streamed event with a professional AV and production team allows you to integrate multiple formats seamlessly. Not all production companies are willing to do what it takes to put on a world class event.  We have preferred vendors who will make your event shine.  We suggest utilizing pre-recorded content for impact speeches. The live aspects will include your auctioneer or emcee.  A good production team can edit in inspirational videos and graphics to make it more engaging. 


Run of Show

A good run of show would look something like this:


15 mins kick off pre-show

3 mins welcome address

2 mins to allow for Virtual Toast/Cheers

10 mins for Auction

3-5 mins to Segue into paddle raise with pre-recorded video that tells a story

10+ mins to Allow Donors to Donate at various Levels

5 mins To Play Last Hero Donation Game or Awards if any


End of Program. Good Night!



Keep the main virtual gala to 1 hour or less, we encourage using a “Pre-Show Kick Off” 

15 minutes prior to get guests acclimated to the mobile bidding software and the items being offered.  Use this time to make sure donors know how to donate!  You can play pre-recorded impact videos about your organization.  You can post pictures of viewers at home by encouraging guests to use an official hashtag. This is a great time to promote the silent auction items.  You can even use this time to play a very fun game called 1 to 100 that can raise over $5,000.  (1 to 100 game attached separately).  


As soon as your event is live, you should be setting expectations for your donors.  We like to remind them why we are here.  On Screen – Keep long dialogue to a minimum, ask yourself – “So What, Who Cares?” does this speech help us raise more money?

We advise Continuous graphics throughout the livestream on how register, participate and donate!  Posting this once or multiple times just at the beginning is not enough!


A clever idea to incorporate many of your supporters is to ask them to record a video of them saying “Cheers” – This can be edited in a lively upbeat manner where they can be seen on screen.  This could also be a welcome video, anything that might relate to your organization.


Hiring Jay Cash and his team of Auctioneers will keep the train on the tracks throughout the livestreaming event.  The live virtual auction will sound different than a typical gala. We spend time building hype. Bidders will bid on them the same way they bid on silent auction items via the mobile bidding platform.   The live items will receive more attention as they are usually higher valued items.  Depending on what platform you use will dictate what approach we take during this portion of the evening.


•  Limit Your Live Auction to 3 to 5 Items Max

• We do not suggest using consignment items with large reserves.   If you choose to utilize consignment auctions, we have preferred vendors with packages that a proven to raise substantial dollars!  For a list of best-selling items – visit or contact Jay Cash!




Fund-A-Need/ Special Appeal / Paddle Raise
The absolute most important part of any fundraiser is the segue into the Fund-A-Need. In a virtual setting I suggest using an inspirational storytelling moment. Stories raise money, not statistics.  

The Fund-A-Need (FAN) / Paddle Raise is a public ask in story form. This is the absolute most important part of your event. Everything we do leads to this transition, where we want to turn data into stories!  Everything we do during this event is leading up to this one very important moment.  This is one of the most profitable ways to generate thousands of dollars without seeking items to sell.  Together we will powerfully frame our cause and ask for donations in a heartfelt manner.  We sometimes utilize a video or guest speaker closely connected to the organization.  We ask donors to give without receiving anything in return.

Symbolically, FAN’s look bigger because there is more opportunity to give... EVERYONE can give vs just a handful in the Live Auction.  We create an opportunity for every person to donate at a level that’s meaningful to them.  



Rules for Fund-A-Need 

  1. Story Must Be True 

  2. Evokes Emotions 

  3. Underscore Need & Impact 

  4. Story must Reflect what donors care about 

  5. Easy to understand 

  6. Speaker must be uplifting and coachable 

  7. Must include 3 active fundraising calls to give

We can help you design a Superlative Fund-A-Need / Paddle Raise and serve as your trusted advisor and strategist. The segue into the Fund-A-Need (Paddle Raise) is the single most important aspect of your event.  You need an auctioneer who can act as the glue to transition effectively into the FAN.

Thanking virtual supporters is critical, especially if they are new to your cause. 
Be sure to send out thank-you notes that recognize donors for their support. Use social media blast posts to thanks everyone who helped: donors, staff, volunteers, peer-to-peer participants.

Most of all, tie all donor communications to the results you achieved, the dollars raised, and how the funds will be used to support your mission.  

It is common for the Auction Chair, Executive Director or Board Chair to get up and start the night by thanking sponsors, volunteers, donors. However, in a virtual event you will lose your audience with this strategy.  You can leverage slides in the pre-show to than sponsors or better yet, wait to the end of your event with Thank You’s. 

Technical Tips
• Upgrade to the fastest internet speeds available.

• Streaming to and sharing the link is proving to be most effective.

• Hire a professional auctioneer to conduct the live fundraising portion. No Exceptions.

• Hiring a producer is also worth every penny.  Budget anywhere from $3,000 to $7,000+

• Rehearse, Rehearse, Rehearse the live show and production.

• Greater Giving, One Cause or Auctria are our main mobile bidding preferences.

• Monitor chatrooms on the main livestream program –, Vimeo, Facebook, Etc., remember Donations can’t be made in the chatroom features, you must use the mobile bidding software 1 Representative should have clear directives of what to post on behalf of non-profit.

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