Video Courtesy of SOC Black Tie Ball 2011

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Black Tie Gala Fundraiser

Potential Revenues:


Revenue Source:

Attendance fees, silent and live auctions


Social media,  press releases to local newspapers and TV/radio stations, website,  all communications


Event planning at elegant hotel will be primary supplier, table centerpieces, decorations, event tables


Area hotels, businesses, restaurants, corporations, event brochure printer

Volunteers Needed:

Extensive committee structure to handle all aspects of the event

How It Works:

This is the ‘granddaddy’ of all fundraisers.   In this event, you invite high society to attend, as well as those up-and-coming socialites.  Make sure that you secure one of the area’s finest hotels, such as a Four Seasons, as a fitting environment for such a grand social event.  Send out your invites at least 45-60 days ahead of time to ensure attendance.  Price this at the “faint level,” which is $400 or higher per plate.

You’ll need a high profile celebrity or well-known business executive to keynote this event.  Once you’ve secured this level person or a line-up of people like this, attendance follows.  If you Google Distinguished Speaker Series in Southern California you will see the level of speaker you need.  In fact, if you can coordinate your event when one of these types of speakers is in your town, you may make a connection for your event.  Use all of your connections to get the right person, and everything else will fall into place.

As this will be “press worthy,” you should invite press and other media people who would want to attend in order to record the speaker’s words of wisdom, as well as photograph the invitees and participants in this grand social event.  It’s a very unique newsworthy opportunity for all parties involved.

From this point on, this event will be like any other gala dinner or ball event – a lot of hard work.  Lay out a well thought out plan for securing the facility, locking in the speaker(s)’ schedules, printing and sending out the invitations, arranging decorations and catering, securing auction items, printing the event flyer, soliciting sponsorships, valet parking, and the endless amount of work it will take to do your version of this event.  And wouldn’t it be great if this became your annual signature event?

Ideas to Consider:

If you can arrange for your auctioneer or emcee to do a live auction while the speakers are seated at the head table, that would probably be a great time to draw a lot of high bids from the audience.  People want to be remembered for their generosity in front of such an important person, and may even want to be introduced.   You can also notify silent auction winners while dinner is being served, and you can use the event’s seating chart to identify where they are seated.  That’s also a good time to collect!

In addition to overall event sponsors, consider selling table sponsorships for the 50-100 plus tables that will be available to seat 10 people each.  Incorporate the cost of the 10 invitations into the table sponsorships, as that bulk price will ensure that the table is filled by the sponsor – more than likely, from their mutual companies.

Some vendors might even want to sponsor a gift for every attendee as a way to show their appreciation, as well as get their name in front of this elite gathering.  These gift items can be spread out into three sponsorships – a door gift, a table gift, and a seat gift.  Think big and you can probably get it sponsored at this type of event.

Source of Idea: Unknown.  Probably the original black tie formal in the US occurred shortly after the American Red Cross was formed in 1881.

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