Behind the Scenes: Planning the Always Hope Gala

Feb 15, 2024 | 
Always Hope Gala | You Call, We Answer

By Maggie O’Connor, Assistant Director of Development

Every year, as soon as the Gala ends and the Development team is busy packing up at the venue, we start thinking about what we want to do for the next one! Together, we carefully plan every element from invitations, décor, and messaging to auction packages, sponsor and donor experience – hoping to properly show our appreciation and celebrate our supporters and our work.

The Fun Begins

Our goal is always to create a beautiful, memorable, meaningful event for our guests. Summer is typically a slow time for nonprofit fundraisers, so we can get to work creating the aesthetic for the next year’s Gala and we dream BIG.

The flowers! The colors! The Pinterest boards! Will the venue let us attach blossom-laden swings from the ceiling? Is there a policy on including ostriches in the program? That’s a hard no on a Board of Directors talent show? Will the fire marshal allow this?

Vibe Check

Creating the programming and content for the Always Hope Gala can be tricky. Lines for Life has a very serious mission, even so every day we have reason to celebrate victories large and small – and we honor those successes through our Gala programming.

While the Development team may dream up Madison Avenue worthy artwork ideas, sometimes we need to put on the brakes! We are so lucky to have our Communications team, including a talented and patient designer who rolls his eyes at our artistic antics and delivers beautiful concepts and materials year after year.

There is a huge amount of writing that goes into Gala planning. Everything that goes on the print materials, emails, web pages, auction package descriptions, signage, and the event program is written by the Development and Communications teams.

Writing may not seem that difficult – but how many different words are there for: support, gift and celebrate? How many ways can we say, “please join us”? How do you spell “munificence”?

What’s for Dinner?

The Gala includes menu selections that should satisfy carnivores and herbivores and everyone in between. Luckily, we are willing to sit down with our caterers for as long as it takes to taste appetizers, entrees and especially desserts. In 2019, we discovered a magical butterscotch pudding. It was delicious and I vividly remember standing in the back of the room with Jean grabbing little jar after jar!

When COVID-19 hit, we faced an entirely different planning challenge. Once we returned to live events, we persuaded the caterer to bring the butterscotch pudding out of retirement and it was worth every spoonful.

The Last Minute Details

The event team strives for perfection – seamlessly organizing guests at tables, meals to guests, numbers to tables, nametags to guests, credit cards to registrations. Because we are professionals, no one EVER gets flustered. Everything always goes exactly as planned without missing a beat, last-minute changes don’t cause us to turn on each other, and we never forget to make meal cards for every guest at every table.

It’s Showtime!

Gala sausage-making isn’t always pretty. Rest assured that once those doors open, we are all so excited to see you! Hosting the Always Hope Gala is a highlight of our year, and we want to make it a highlight of yours.

Invitations will be out soon to the Lines for Life Always Hope Gala to be held at the Portland Art Museum on April 19! Click here for more information about the big day.

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