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4 Gala Dinner Success Tips
January 15, 2013

4 Things I Learnt From the Jon Cole-Edwards Fundraising Gala Dinner


I had the greatest of pleasures attending the JCE Trust Fundraising Dinner a few months ago. After an exhibition cricket match that my brother played in, and that featured a whole stack of ex and present South African professional sportsman, a dinner was held with guest speakers, Q&A sessions and great food!

It was superbly run, raised well over R200,000 ($25,000), and reminded me of a few things that make a good fundraising Dinner great. (Other than it being a cause that people genuinely want to support!)

JCE Trust Cricket Day - The Players

I wanted to quickly share those with you...

1. Have top quality guests present.

If you're going to be charging a big fee for the dinner you're going to need to make it as attractive as possible for people. And people love meeting and listening to local celebrities and heroes.

At the JCE Trust dinner there were a heap of popular South African (and international) Sports and Media celebrities, including Butch James, HD Ackerman, Keegan Daniels, Lance Klusener, Shaun Pollock, and Jonty Rhodes...

JCE Trust Gala Dinner - Craig Joubert & Butch James

It was one of the attractions that filled all the tables and sold out the tickets, even though the tickets were quite expensive!

So extend your arm out to your network and find those supporters who know celebrities or have contacts to celebrities.

2. Have fantastic Raffle and Auction items available.

The dinner had a wide range of South African sports memorabilia donated by some of the guests plus other top international sportsmen.

For that particular crowd, who had been attracted to the dinner, firstly in support of Jon, but secondly by the sporting heroes that were going to be present... it was the perfect type of item to be on Auction and Raffle.

A crowd full of sports fans and items that are highly desirable sports memorabilia! A formula that made the Auction and Raffle for the dinner so brilliantly successful.

The better the Prizes and more valuable they are; the more excitement, activity, and involvement will take place in your Auction and Raffle! So think carefully about the crowd that will attend your dinner and about what type of Items you'll have on Auction and Raffle for that crowd.

3. Have a professional or accomplished MC.

The bottom line is that if people are thoroughly enjoying their evening, they will now be comfortable and happy about the fee they paid to attend, which in turn will make them more comfortable to spend more money and get involved with the Auction and other fundraisers during the evening!

This enjoyment obviously comes from the quality of food, the quality of their company, the quality of the speeches (number 4), and the environment /atmosphere of the evening... Essentially the VIBE!

And guess who has an intergral part to play in what type of mood/atmosphere is present at the Dinner?

The Master of Ceremonies!!!

He must be funny, lighthearted, well spoken, and sensitive to the cause. He must have the ability to interact with the audience and draw them in to the evening's program. Essentially a MC has the ability to MAKE or BREAK the evening. So find one that truly sparks attention and creates a fun-filled dinner!

4. Have really insightful and enjoyable speeches or Q&A's.

Keeping on the subject of enjoyment, the last thing you want to do is bore your guests and supporters with dull and unexciting speeches! In fact you want to achieve the opposite... You want supporters walking out of your dinner saying, "WOW, that was such an incredible evening! How brilliant was that speech by 'so and so'!"

JCE Trust Gala Dinner - Jon Cole-Edwards' Speech

It was something that the JCE Trust dinner delivered superbly!!!

It has quite honestly got to be the best dinner or fundraising dinner that I have ever attended (and interestingly enough I wasn't even there for the whole dinner due to other commitments).

So I attended half the dinner but it was still the best! WHY?

Because when I arrived the atmosphere was a complete buzz. The other guests were so enjoying their evening already that I couldn't help but feel so great to be there, after only just walking in...

And then what followed was pure enjoyment. The Speeches, the Question and Answer sessions, the Auction; everything was brilliant, including a tear jerking and emotionally connecting speech by Jon Cole-Edwards of his story and fight against Ocular Melanoma!

So, just like you should carefully search for a great MC, you must also do the same when finding speakers and celebrities for your speeches.

I hope the above points will help you with your next fundraising dinner event.

For fundraising event ideas go here...

The Jon Cole-Edwards Trust

Jon Cole-Edwards suffers from Ocular Melanoma, a very rare and almost untreatable form of Cancer.

JCE Trust Cricket Day - Jon Cole-Edwards with his Son

The JCE Trust was setup in support of Jon's fight against cancer and fundraises for three purposes...

  1. To pay for Jon's medical bills.
  2. To setup a trust to ensure Jon’s children's well-being.
  3. And to help with Cancer Research, specifically with Ocular Melanoma.

So do you have any...

Comments? Ideas? Feedback? I'd love to hear from you. Reply to this e-zine and let me know what you think. Thanks!

If you have found this to be of use, please tell friends about at Facebook and Twitter, or (if you have one) in your blog, or website, etc.

Until next time. Happy Fundraising!

Rob Hampson

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