The Virtual Fundraising Gala

Are you losing sleep at night as you worry about how the charity that is near and dear to your heart is going to be able to survive in our current economy?

Are you secretly afraid your charity is going to close its door because a lack of fundraising?

Are you intrigued by the concept of a Virtual Fundraising Gala to replace your traditional fundraising event?

It’s no secret that the effects of COVID-19 are stifling the fundraising efforts of many Not For Profit organizations. They are faced with the same questions:

  • How are we going to survive without our traditional gala?
  • How are we going to meet payroll so we can retain our dedicated staff?
  • How much longer can we pay rent for an office when our entire staff is working from home?
  • What does the future hold and how are we going to raise the money to keep our doors open?

As we all know staying in a concerned state of worry attempting to answer these questions (and more) is not healthy, nor does it benefit our charity.

The question NPOs should be asking is “How do we turn our traditional fundraising gala into a virtual fundraising gala?”

Let’s be honest, before March 2020, 99.9% of charitable organizations had never heard of a virtual fundraising gala but less hosted one. They have no idea what elements of a traditional fundraising gala can apply and what won’t.

They are frightened, uninformed, and afraid to make a mistake. Their gala is their biggest annual fundraiser and primary tool for donor development……and now they are faced with cancelation.

This is typically when analysis paralysis sets in as leaders of  NPOs struggle with how to proceed with a virtual fundraising gala.

You are not alone. Many NPOs share the same problem: how do we raise funds for our charity during the COVID-19 pandemic? Without fundraising, our organization may no longer exist in 12 months (or even sooner). Please know I feel your pain.

In late February 2020, when I realized that COVID-19 was going to totally interrupt how traditional gala fundraisers were held, I invested most of my waking hours into creating a recipe of success for hosting Virtual Fundraising Galas.

I knew that if I could figure out how to orchestrate a fundraising gala, in a digital format where everyone could shelter in place, enjoy themselves, and join others in supporting their favorite charities, we could save many charities and allow them to continue to do what they do best, serve their clients.

Your supporters believe in your charity and we needed a creative solution to allow them to give and or bid on auction items to support your charity.

Thus, the concept of the virtual gala was born.  

The concept of the Virtual Gala is a brand-new topic hatched when social gathering was no longer allowed due to COVID-19. Charities needed a way to gather supporters virtually, entertain them, present their message, and motivate people to give in the comfort of their own homes. In short, the charities need fundraising to survive and serve their clients.

As few people understand how to produce a virtual auction, I realized I needed to assemble a team of talented/knowledgeable vendors to help NPO’s host a successful event. This allows my clients to work with skilled experts and allows me to focus on the big picture of the event.

One obstacle, I discovered, is these skilled vendors also did not know what was entailed to be successful at a virtual gala, but they were willing to learn, try new concepts, and offer suggestions based on their real world experience.

Because of their winning attitude, and willingness to pivot, we make an unstoppable team.

We are the experienced Virtual Fundraising Gala experts.

Scott Robertson Virtual Auctioneers logoWe were there at the beginning, pioneering fundraising techniques that are new standards across the country for virtual galas. This cutting-edge thinking is allowing NPOs to thrive instead of throwing up their hands to cancel their event.

You are likely thinking, what strategies are the same for virtual galas and what are different?

Mission First

As with any fundraiser for an NPO the message of the mission must permeate the event and provide compelling reasons to support the cause. Philanthropists support the change they wish to see in the world. This is the same for both traditional and virtual galas


As a fundraising auctioneer instead of my usual role of being a talented stage performer, I had to quickly pivot to being in front of the video camera.  Your Virtual Gala is being broadcast onto your supporter’s Smart TV’s or computer laptops. Your supporters are accustomed to being entertained and engaged by these devices, thus your co-hosts must be entertaining and engaging as well. Once the interest of your viewers wane, you have lost your audience. My goal is have our supporters stay engaged and giving/bidding until the end of the broadcast.

User friendly for the charity

During this period of uncertainly, I knew it was imperative the program we assembled, while still a lot of work for the charity, had to be intuitive for the charity in order to be successful.

Proven effectiveness

In order for the charity to agree to taking the risk and host a Virtual Gala I knew there had to be documented success this concept will work effectively. Most Virtual Galas, when executed properly have exceeded expectations and often surpass the amounts generated the previous year at a live traditional gala.

Engaging Co-host/Emcee

During a traditional gala, as the auctioneer, I sometimes work with an emcee and sometimes work solo, both ways are effective. At a virtual gala, due to the format, an engaging emcee is a must for playful banter, insight, and helping to keep the show flowing.

You may be thinking, this all sounds good but “how do we turn our traditional fundraising gala into a virtual fundraising gala?”

Contact me. I can help.



Nonprofits Get Creative to Maintain Fundraising Presence

 Read more!  Business Observer | 2020 



Use links below to view past recordings of past virtual events:

Heights Foundation                         Selfless Love Foundation           Jr Achievement of SWFL            SHOWCAIS
(Live portion begins at 27:11)  |   (live portion begins 10:49)  |         (live portion begins 32:39) |

Frequently Asked Virtual Fundraising Questions