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From choosing the theme, to selecting a venue and planning the program, an organization’s annual gala is an ambitious undertaking that often consumes a sustained, year-long planning effort. While all of the above factors are key, perhaps the most important consideration for any gala fundraiser is the selection of the event’s honoree, and, just as important, its co-chairs.

Influential honorees and co-chairs help elevate the stature of the event, and thus drive attendance and donor support. Choosing the right mix of honoree and co-chairs is a balance that can reap returns, both in the amount of monies raised and quality of relationships made.

Camy Calve Events works with clients to secure honorees that can provide a robust fundraising structure for efforts that follow. We do our homework, and through research identify high-profile leaders in the business community who have strong ties throughout the marketplace, including colleagues as well as within professional services, including bankers, lawyers, and accountants. Our goal is to reach individuals who are recognized in worlds of business and philanthropy, who have a link with the organization or an affiliation with their mission.

We ask each honoree to select two or three co-chairs; one from within their firm, and one or two others from the wider community. What is most important is that these co-chairs then become engaged in the effort and support the event’s fundraising outreach. We hope they will provide a mailing list (and if possible, company letterhead) and allow us to reach out to their contacts in their name to encourage event attendance and support.

We then strive to keep our co-chairs engaged and focused on the event through brief bi-weekly conference calls. Our goal is to give them a feeling of ownership of the event and its successful outcome, and to open a dialog between each co-chair with our client organization’s leadership. Ultimately, we hope to cultivate relationships that go beyond one-time fundraising commitment to ongoing support, and ideally, to service as a member of our client’s board.

Honorees and co-chairs can play a significant role in a winning gala fundraising strategy. Some advance planning, solid research, and regular communication can deliver substantial dividends for your event’s bottom line.