Hello, all! I'm in the midst of planning my first gala for my very, very small organization, which focuses on connecting mentors with high school students. It's our first time being in-person for this event in two years, and we are essentially an entirely new staff at this point. I really want to take this opportunity to refresh the formatting and make this as seamless as possible, and as inclusive as possible.
My coworker, who came from a very large organization that also worked with youth, commented on the very exploitative and not-very-inclusive nature of the galas that her org would hold. The organization really liked to use their very young clients as props to appeal to attendees. Of course, this doesn't sit well with me from an ethical standpoint.
I also came from a very large organization that worked with youth on the other side of the country. Something I really didn't like about our galas was that staff members were expected to be working and separated from the guests the entire time. This meant that the people who were putting in so many hours and so much work to run our programming were "seen but not heard" by the stakeholders attending the gala. I understood that staff had roles in the gala, but I wished that many of our staff members could have socialized and connected with our supporters more during the event. It also left a lot of our staff members dreading the event and feeling very exhausted afterwards, when it should have been a time for staff to be included in celebrations of their own hard work.
On that note, I want to get some opinions from the lovely people on this sub. What did you love about the gala(s) your organization held? What did you not love, or even really hate about it? How did your organization mitigate the issues I described above? How can we include our clients in our gala without being unethical and exploitative about it? I'd love to hear everyone's thoughts – please hit me with everything that comes to mind!
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