This week’s chapter spotlight is Chi (Montana) who overcame the challenges of fundraising in a tight market by changing things up for their 6th annual Red Dress Gala! Red Dress Chairmen Shelby Wheeler and Danielle Tribble let us in on their secrets to success.
Event Name: Red Dress Gala
Location: The Ranch Club in Missoula, MT
How many times have you held this event?
Tell us a bit about the event.
Each spring, we host our Red Dress Gala where family, friends and community members join for a formal evening, including a silent auction, candy bar, guest speaker and live entertainment. We serve passed appetizers and have a dessert bar with cookies and cupcakes. New this year, we hosted our first paddle raise in order to fundraise for an AED for our chapter. This was also the first year we solicited for sponsorships.
Tell us more about how you secured sponsorships this year.
We created a sponsorship letter from Alpha Phi Foundation’s online template and then customized it from there. It seemed to really work. We sent letters to various health organizations around Missoula, and we received a $1,000 sponsorship from the Western Montana Clinic who rarely give to local organizations. After letters went out, we personally called each organization and talked to them briefly about the Red Dress Gala and Alpha Phi Foundation.
Hosting a fundraiser in a “nonprofit-hub” can be tough. Can you speak to that?
Missoula has hundreds of nonprofits in a very small town. We planned our Red Dress Gala around three other BIG fundraisers happening the same month. Missoula is one of the most generous cities, but when a philanthropy event is getting off the ground, it is hard to encourage people to donate to something new. We hope to stand out more by using repetition. This was our 6th annual Red Dress Gala but it has been held in a different month every year in the past. It will be important to hold our event in the same month every year moving forward, so donors can rely on us being consistent.
What tips would you offer other chapters looking to host an event like this?
Do a paddle raise! It’s easy to make extra money for your chapter. Shelby currently works at a nonprofit and the paddle raise is a huge element of all of their fundraisers, so we wanted to implement it into our Red Dress Gala this year. Shelby and our president facilitated the paddle raise, and guests really enjoyed that they had something specific to give to. In this case, it was our chapter’s AED.