San Francisco's LLS gala: a star-studded fundraiser

One event concept we’ve been featuring on the blog lately is the power of using celebrities for nonprofit events. It’s a strategy that has been around forever, and for good reason: there’s nothing like a big name for drawing attendees, and there’s nothing like a good cause for bringing names on board. In our experience, NPO event organizers can often bring on bigger names than they expect: their biggest obstacle is just neglecting to ask!

An auction that appeals

Of course, it’s important not to stop there. A fundraiser needs to bring on stars who will resonate with its crowd, and it needs to capitalize on what they can do for the cause. For Mike Kim, one of the organizers of this month’s Leukemia & Lymphoma Society Man & Woman of the Year gala, the 2010 event was all about upping the ante with a celebrity auction that really appealed to the interests of attendees. Lucky to have landed a great space (San Francisco’s elegant Bently Reserve) and aware that they were catering to the tuxedo set, his team curated prizes for both the fun-loving and serious side of attendees. “We’ll be offering backstage passes to Santana, and lunches with David Schwimmer and [former SF Mayor] Willie Brown,” says Kim. Pitch sessions with prominent venture capitalists will also be available, and Brown will be attending the event in person.

More fun with promotions

It’s not surprising this group has a good promotional sensibility. The honored guest of the evening, LLS Woman of the Year Yuliya Singo, distinguished herself as a fundraising guru with a nifty donations tool: specialized envelopes that restaurants can slip in with the check. Kim estimates that “40 to 50″ dining establishments in San Francisco have put the envelopes to use. We love this simple, direct approach!

In all, the LLS event has put together a great formula: an enticing setting (a live band and open bar never hurt), a process for making donations fun and personal, and a theme that rewards a creative fundraiser. We’re glad to have them on Eventbrite!