What gala fundraiser ideas raise the most money? (updated for 2020)

gala fundraiser ideas

Written by Tim Grable

March 4, 2017

Planning an event for hundreds, or maybe even thousands, of people is certainly stressful, especially when you need to find some gala fundraiser ideas to set your event over the top. Scouring the internet to find exactly what fits your motif is difficult, and it might end up wasting what precious little time you have to plan. Luckily, the work has been done for you below, and this set of live entertainers to choose from will have your guests blown away. Whether you are looking to find a magician, painter, singer, or any live performer, this comprehensive list of fundraising ideas for nonprofits will elevate your event while still being interactive and fun for guests. The eight acts listed below have collectively won numerous awards, and they have all helped raise millions of dollars for charity through events like yours. Each act has its unique theme, so one of them should be a great fit for any nonprofit fundraising event.

What gala fundraiser ideas raise the most money?

Gala Fundraiser Ideas for Your Next Event

The Performers

The Three Waiters® ~ Singing Waiters Best Entertainment!

The Three Waiters is an original act that has won “Entertainer of the Year” twice. The premise is relatively secretive in that your guests will not know these men are entertainers until they are already in their performances. The “waiters” actually act as waiters for a portion of the event until one comes onto the stage, sings, and heads back to his duties as though nothing has occurred. This begins a competition between the three waiters, all interrupting and coming up on stage to out-do one another. They all come together and begin an interactive performance, now revealing themselves as the live entertainment. It has been called “the definition of surprise entertainment”, and for good reason. These three waiters will create an interactive experience that all of your guests can enjoy.  The Three Waiters are one of the most creative fundraising ideas for nonprofits.

2013 AFA Convention Hypnotwist Part 1. Ft. Lauderdale, FL

From the creators of The Three Waiters comes HypnoTWIST. HypnoTWIST is a live performance that incorporates hypnotism with a twist. It would appear that the act is an astounding display of hypnotism, as the “doctor” makes men from the audience suddenly perform outrageous acts. One man becomes an opera star, another becomes a rock singer, and the act goes on until the audience realizes these men are not guests at all – they are actors in on the twist. They all come together and perform songs by ABBA, Tom Jones, Elvis Presley, and more. This act will have your audience watching from the start, and it is sure to entertain the crowd throughout your event.

Heidi Schwartz: 2018 Intro

Heidi Schwartz has been gaining attention for her magnificent live event paintings. Entitled “Paint Your Event”, Heidi will not only create a painting live, but she will portray your unique event that she is attending. She has performed at corporate events, fundraisers, and even weddings. Her paintings range from corporate events to the nonprofit fundraisers. According to Heidi, it takes roughly three hours to finish a painting. How does she do that? She says, “I pick the nuances in a room and look at symbols and abstract things and kind of piece it together like a puzzle. I have a time limit, and I just do it.”  A live event painter is one of the best gala fundraiser ideas.

Joe Castillo - Inspire/NonProfit 2016 EPK

Joe Castillo is another name you may be familiar with as he was also featured on America’s Got Talent. His talent? Sand art. As odd as it may seem, his sand art has enraptured audiences, evidenced by his advancement to the finals on the reality competition show.  Sand Animation is of of the best unique fundraising ideas.  He will perform a live sand art in front of your guests that will truly blow them away. Entitled “Sand Story”, Joe Castillo draws in the sand with his hands-on light table. Unique, and widely adored, his performances have taken him to over twenty-six countries, and he has performed for numerous corporate events, Fortune 500 companies and even Presidents have seen him perform. His “powerful, visceral” work will be sure to keep your audience entertained and talking all evening long.

An Incredible iPhone Illusion

Adam Trent, a magician, has been deemed “Amazing!” by CBS News. He has won awards such as “Small Venue Entertainer of the Year” and “Top 10 Most Influential Youths in the Country” by U.S. News. His “magic show” is a reinvented view of the typical magic show, and he makes sure his audience is connected and engaged throughout his performance. He has performed for companies like American Airlines, State Farm, and even the Walt Disney Company. You can be sure to expect a different feel when Adam is done, as he is sure to note on his website. Unique, entertaining, and fun – this is what your audience can expect from the only Adam Trent.

Jeff Civillico - Corporate Reel

Jeff Civilllico is Comedy in Action. His Las Vegas headline performance has been renowned as “The Best of Las Vegas” in 2014 and 2015. Jeff has been a host on numerous television shows, including channels such as ABC, NBC, The Cooking Channel, and more. His show is packed with “physical comedy, action-packed stunts, and world-class juggling”, and he is very interactive with his audiences. He appears to be a jack of all trades in the entertainment world, which keeps the energy of his performances high and exciting.

Dana Daniels is a comedy-magician, but he does not do it alone. His Psychic Parrot, Luigi, and Dana make quite a comedic team. The audience will be sure to love their quirky style of magic and comedy. Additionally, Dana will come to your corporate event and perform close-up magic during cocktail hour. This will be sure to start some buzz before he brings his pal up on stage for the real live performance. Hailed by comedians such as Jason Alexander, Dana makes magic look easy, “his material is flawless”, and he is sure to keep your audience captivated throughout the event.

David Garibaldi | Performance Painter

You may have heard this name before, and that is no mistake. David Garibaldi has been featured as a finalist on America’s Got Talent as a performance painter. His unique and captivating act compels the audience as he paints incredible portraits, landscapes, and all else in what seems like just a few moments. His paintings are remarkable, and he, along with his work, has been featured on several talk shows, magazines, and he is making quite a name for himself in the entertainment industry. Thus far, his act has helped raise over 1.3 million dollars for charity. He is an excellent entertainer, performer, and painter, and he will not disappoint.

All of these performers are great fundraising ideas for nonprofits, whether they be up-and-coming or are already pros in their field, making for some great gala fundraiser ideas. These performers can create fantastic works of art; they can entertain large audiences with laughter, magic, or even sand. The eight performers listed above are some of the most talked about in their industry, and they all meet and exceed expectations at each show. They are dedicated to their performances, and that is evident in all that they do. Any of them can elevate an event, and they will keep your audience talking for days to come.

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