Mar 4, 2020

Does my event need a theme?

mobile bidding how to bid

Does my gala need a theme? Should the event theme be the same year after year? What if people don’t want to participate? 

These are all completely valid questions you’ve *probably* hadWe’d like to share a few answers: 

We recommend having a theme for your event because it gives you an opportunity to differentiate your fundraiser from other organizations’ (as well as from your past events!) However, some organizations find a particular theme is popular among donors, they may use that theme year after year. For example, some organizations will host a Mardi Gras Ball or a Casino Night each year because it’s an event that donors look forward to. If you really nail a theme, perhaps you can coin it as yours! 

When implementing a theme, you cannot, of course, force participation, nor do you want people to feel pressured. As you plan your event, consider your language when you send out invitations, using positive and inclusive phrasing such as “we encourage everyone to come dressed to impress!” 

Remember, incorporate a theme into your event can: 

  • Differentiate from other fundraisers 
  • Add fun and excitement 
  • Provide endless creative options for marketing and promotion 
  • Tie in additional fundraising based on the theme (I.e. pay to play games at casino night) 

Some themes to consider: 

  • Decades (I.e. the ‘80s, Roaring ‘20s) 
  • Holidays (I.e. Mardi Gras, Halloween) 
  • TV & film (I.e. Mad Men) 
  • Locations (I.e. Havana nights, Hawaiian luau, a night at the museum) 
  • Nostalgia (I.e. disco, prom) 
  • Activities (I.e. derby days, casinos, bowling, golf) 
  • Your organization itself (I.e. jazz fest, nautical, fur ball) 


For more on event themes, check out Jam Session: Episode 14


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We needed a platform to make sales online and to track and display ads for our sponsors. GiveSmart was perfect. We ended up making close to $15,000 more than we had hoped for. Definite better ROI than we anticipated. The interface is easy to use and provides plenty of options to get help if needed.

Michelle M.

The Rotary Club of South Whidbey Island

Using GS has created ease in auction bookkeeping, payments, and generating post-event thank you/tax letters. While we were online during COVID, our interactions with our GiveSmart via phone, email, and zoom were seamless. A representative always got back to us within the day. I would recommend GiveSmart to anyone doing a large online event.

Julie G.

MicroFinancing Partners in Africa

GiveSmart is highly flexible - you can use it for [a] simple registration and check-in, to full-scale galas with complex order forms, onsite upsells, live auctions, seating management, and more.

Jamie F.

Hope Chest for Breast Cancer

GiveSmart is easy to use and ideal for virtual events and can be used for in-person events to manage the silent auction, seating charts, and check-in to the event. Being able to use the platform for unlimited events within the contract year is very useful and being able to add other users and volunteers for different levels of access is helpful as well.

Dawn L.

Literacy Coalition of Palm Beach County