For any charity, TV Galas are like a decade’s worth of Christmas income arriving in a few days. The massive exposure and huge income can transform organisations and though they are ridiculously hard work, if the organisation is thoroughly prepared and has invested properly (not only in the actual day but in the follow-up) a TV Gala is a prize to be coveted.
When such events are like Comic Relief or Children in Need then the income is huge, as they are essentially fundraising events, but when a charity is putting on a show to be televised then the exposure and income, though very welcome may not be stupendous. The programme may barely mention the charity, whose logos are often suppressed, and there may be no request for viewers to help at all. The TV company may air the show at an odd time and the second viewing that is usually part of the deal can come very late at night just to fill a hole in their schedule.
If you are so fortunate to land a gala designed to raise large sums do not expect that particular cash-cow to pop up every year and hand you all the cash you need. Very few galas run on year after year and raising funds throughout the rest of that year is an imperative, or you may well squander the money the gala raised, just replacing the revenue funding you failed to raise after the gala ended.
So what do you need to secure a TV gala, in addition to a huge dose of luck? Here are four possible routes. But, prior to going down any route you will need to have a world class case for support and a first class business plan, plus of course a mass of the kind of celebrities that fit both your charity and your selected TV channel as well as high level backing and national recognition for your charity.
- Route one: put all your high level contacts into action, meeting commissioning editors and other people in your target TV corporation.
- Route two: piggy back on any national or international news story that survives more than one 24 hour news cycle, and concerns your beneficiaries.
- Route three: probably to combine routes one and two which more than doubles your chances.
- Route four: run your own stunning event and ask TV companies to film it, not as news (which it extremely unlikely), but as entertainment, for which you will most probably top celebrities to perform.
TV Galas are really a game for the grown-ups and small charities could waste a lot of time in trying for something that will never happen, but if you are ‘of the moment’ and can bring in top celebrities, and obviously have a very sympathetic audience out there, then you too may well be lucky – right now a charity concentrating on Ebola could just be lucky.
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