Your local McDonald’s franchise might be the golden arches, but the Ronald McDonald House’s annual charity gala, held at the Waldorf=Astoria in New York City, is platinum. While charity galas might be filled with fundraising and fun, they also provide a unique platform to educate donors and potential donors about your organization and the work you have accomplished.
Rick Martin, director of development at Ronald McDonald House New York (RMHNY) said, “You can’t bring 1,000 people to Ronald McDonald House but we can bring the experience of a family who have had a tough journey…who has a child with cancer to the stage so people can understand first hand what that family has gone through,” regarding the organization’s gala fundraising.
The organization produces an original video for each year’s gala to remind the audience that while survival rates for cancer have improved, the organization remains a place where families with children who have some of the most tough and unusual cancers are going.
While they raised some $220,000 via text at the 2015 gala, the RMHNY stresses a philosophy of not going into the night rely on text or silent auction pledges to make their budget. This year, the Manhattan-based charity launched its first-ever digital gala. Supporters at any level could access a livestream of the gala performance by singer Darlene Love.
“It’s very important for us to look at this event from the donor experience and guests of donors,” says Martin. For the past three years, with the increasing number of attendees, RMHNY allowed registering and finding seating through iPads. This process created a smoother process than using traditional seating cards. Martin also emphasized the importance of keeping board members engaged year to year, making sure they understand their responsibility to continue identifying potential honorees.
By creating a process allowing for a smooth gala in addition to creating a digital gala, Ronald McDonald House allowed an intimate connection to their mission for donors at all levels.