Dinner, entertainment, silent auctions, and raffles. An annual gala is a powerhouse of a fundraising event, whether you’re running a large nonprofit organization or raising money for your small business or school sports team. But to fill seats — in your beautifully decorated event venue or online during your first-ever virtual gala — you’ve got to get the word out.
We’ve got you covered. Use this handy guide to create the perfect gala invitation. First, we’ll go over key sections of your invitation, like your event description and call to action (CTA). Then, we’ll give you an editable invitation template, invitation design ideas, and fundraising tips straight from successful galas. Ready to get inspired? Read on.
What to include in your gala invitation
Galas allow you to bring your donors, volunteers, sponsors, and other supporters together to share your achievements and ask them to help you accomplish even more. While they used to take place under one physical roof, virtual galas have exploded in popularity due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Now, organizations are experimenting with pajama galasright alongside their traditional black-tie balls.
No matter what kind of gala you’re planning, your gala invitation will set the tone. In addition to communicating the “what,” “when,” and “where,” the wording and design will immediately let your guests know what kind of event to expect — and get them circling the dates on their calendars.
The number one rule? Don't crowd the card.
As we go over essential elements of a gala invitation, it may seem like there’s a lot of information to squeeze into your evite or 5” by 7” cardstock, but don’t worry. Each section should only be a few words or a couple sentences long. Follow along to outline your invitation:
- Event description 🌃: Entice your audience with a short but exciting description of the day’s or night’s events and the gala’s positive impact on your cause. For example, if you’re hosting a raffle, tease one or two interesting raffle prizes, but feature the full list on your event page. Make sure your invitation wording reflects your theme and suits your audience.
- Date, time, and location 📅: Be as detailed as possible, down to the time zone or venue suite number. If it's a virtual gala, include when the live stream will start and how supporters can tune in.
- Ticket price 🎫: Give ticket or table costs and highlight any promotions. For instance, are there discounts for donors who gave over $500? Does the admission cost include free raffle tickets? Are tickets available at the door?
- How to RSVP or register✋: Clearly explain how your invitees can reserve their spot, buy tickets, or learn more. On an evite, you should have a call-to-action (CTA) button that links back to your fundraising event page.
- How to donate money 💸: Not everyone can or will attend, but they may donate. Explain how they can give or insert a donation button.
- Dress code 👗: Is it a black tie affair or can attendees come dressed as they are?
- Event theme 💘: Similarly, let your guests know whether they should expect a Valentine's Day soirée, or an explosion of pink to support your breast cancer nonprofit.
- Meal options 🍲: You may not have room for a full menu, but briefly inform guests whether you’ll have vegetarian, vegan, or gluten-free meals available.
- Corporate sponsorships 🏢: It’s common for fundraisers to use corporate sponsors to cover the costs of throwing a gala. If this is the case, leave room to feature their logos or a brief acknowledgment.
- Contact information 📲: Let recipients know how to reach you if they have questions.
Get going with this customizable gala invitation template ✏️
Opening or subject line: [Invitee’s Name], you’re cordially invited to [Event Name]
Dear [Invitee’s Name],
We’re pleased to announce this year’s [Event Name]. We invite you to join us for [time when the event takes place, like “an evening”] of [list of activities and event highlights].
All proceeds will benefit [who or what your event will support]. [Briefly explain the significance of your mission and how their attendance will make a difference.]
Date: [Event date and time]
Event schedule: [Include a pared down list of events, like “5:30 p.m. Dinner and Drinks” and “7:00 p.m. Live Auction”]
Location: [Venue address or live stream event link]
Cost: [Cost per ticket, person, or table]
[Include a CTA button that says “RSVP now” and link it to your event registration page, or include registration instructions.]
Kindly RSVP by [preferred date].
If you can’t attend, please consider contributing [suggest a dollar amount] by [offer multiple payment options, like sending a check or using your online donation form].
[If you’re offering food and drink, listing sponsors, or need to share other key details, you can include this information on the back of your invitation, or further down on your evite.]
5 timeless gala invitation design ideas
There are tons of design elements you can play with — including font, color, imagery, shape, and even paper thickness — to communicate your theme and get people circling the gala date on their calendars.
No matter what, make sure you select a design that will match your event decorations and signage and create a single cohesive look.
Below, we’ll feature some popular gala invitation designs and explain which events they’re best suited for. Each example is downloadable, editable, and printable.
1. Art deco
Throwing an elegant affair or vivacious charity ball that would put the Great Gatsby to shame? Let your supporters know with this lively art deco gala invitation template.
2. Black and white
Tuxedos and black dresses are truly timeless, and so is this black tie gala invitation template. Use this classic look for your next charity gala or fundraising dinner party. It projects your dress code and looks stylish to boot.
Dazzle your supporters with this confetti-covered gala invitation template. It’s perfect for celebratory events, like a New Year's Eve money-raising bash or a corporate event, like a grand opening.
Spring into your next fundraising event. It’s technically a wedding invitation, but that’s the beauty of editable templates. You can DIY a custom invitation with a free event invitation builder or use design software like Adobe Photoshop or Illustrator. This example includes a full invitation suite, including a save-the-date card.
It’s hard to go wrong with a straightforward but modern event template. The simple layout directs your invitees’ eyes to the key information, but still allows you to add flair or brand personality with color.
Still on the hunt for design inspiration? Don’t be afraid to browse baby showers, bridal showers, birthday invitations, and other options. There’s no telling where the perfect invitation template will come from.
When to send your gala invitations and reminders
Even if your fundraising cause is near and dear to their hearts, your supporters live busy lives and might forget about your special event without a reminder or two. This is particularly true for virtual events, which sometimes struggle with attendance issues.
The good news?
A few well-timed messages can decrease no-shows and help you hit your fundraising goal.
Leading up to the big day, we recommend sending a minimum of four communications, whether your guests prefer email, direct mail, or social media message. Here’s an example of an effective communication schedule for a formal fundraising event like a gala:
- Save the date 🎀: As soon as you have a date and location (or live streaming plan) locked down, send out save-the-date cards. Include as many details as you can, but you don’t need to have everything we covered earlier. Aim to send this at least six to eight weeks out from your gala.
- Invitation 📧: A few weeks after you’ve sent your save-the-date notice, send the amazing gala party invitations you crafted using this article. Support your announcement with social media posts, website updates, and more.
- Reminder ⏰: When the event is one to two weeks away, give your supporters a gentle nudge with a reminder. Depending on their communication preferences, you can send this via email or text, or simply message everyone on your guest list using built-in tools on your Givebutter event page.
- Last chance 🔥: A day or two before the event, you have one final opportunity to confirm additional guests. Try boosting last-minute ticket sales with promo codes or special perks. For a virtual gala, this opportunity may be ongoing. If your invitees can simply pay and join at any time, remind them. Then, roll out the red carpet and execute your event to perfection.
While it’s not on the list (because it’s not an invitation or reminder), there’s one final message you need to plan for: your thank-you notes! You may have already said thank you in your ticket confirmation or donation receipts. Follow it up with another show of gratitude a few days after your gala. Doing so won’t just give your attendees the warm fuzzies. It will also make them much more likely to attend or donate again.
You’re invited to the fundraising event of the year 📩
And by that, we mean your fundraising gala. You’ve got all the tips and resources you need to craft an effective gala invitation — elegant, informal, or something in between — and make your gala the can’t-miss event of the month.
After all your diligent planning, there’s one final step you can take to maximize donations on the big day. Use a fundraising event platform that’s built to streamline event coordination, collect every payment type, and create an experience that keeps donors coming back. Givebutter ticks all of these boxes and more, and even better, it’s free to use!
Sign up for your free account and see why over 15,000 individuals and organizations use Givebutter for easy, modern fundraising.
Rachel is a fundraising and marketing consultant for nonprofits whose aspiration since she was 16-years-old is simply this: help others, help others.