I am very excited to speak about the Ventura County Animal Services Gala. VCAS has always had a special place in my heart. I have gotten the majority of my companion animals from them over the years. Being a board member and a producer for their gala was a really great experience. As a vegan myself and the owner of an all vegan event planning company, my main goal is to get clients to think about the impact of their event and we take over this burden while they focus on what they find is most important.
First thing was first with this event, we had to address the food! I wasn’t agreeing with the fact that the events’ purpose was to raise money for animals, but we were going to eat others to get to that goal. We worked with both the venue and the board members on an all vegan cocktail hour and after dinner party, with a vegan option for dinner. We did not want to exclude our supporters by not having a meat option, but also wanted to bring about the awareness of this dilemma, ever so lightly.
Next item to tackle was the silent auction items. If you have never spearheaded an auction, consider yourself lucky! Silent auctions have many moving parts- asking, receiving, organizing, displaying, and distributing. We really focused in on the items for auction, as sadly there are a lot of ways to exploit animals.
We had an amazing supporter who donated lots of items for the auction and they gave a generous donation, but the conversation started off with horse racing memorabilia. I didn’t want to look a gift sour in the mouth, but someone has to draw the line, I mean just this year over 35 horses have violently died from horse racing. We also had a fishing trip that was donated. Again, doesn’t make sense to be supporting one animal and literally killing another. We definitely wanted to have some animal interaction packages for a crowd like this and something like a trip with no animals in captivity, no human reaction, and good fun is what we love, so we were happy to have a few whale watching trips and even an African safari.
The sanctuary in Africa is incredible. Not only for visitors, but for its’ residents as well. These animals have ample space to roam and they don’t support animal-human interaction, a few of the key details we look for when traveling. We also had great donations from all-vegan companies, like jOI Cafe and Luxe Vegan Food Tours. Our auction really was a great one and our guests were very involved the entire time.
The easiest thing we can do for any event with no burden on the client is keeping it eco-friendly and low-waste. Everything we used for plates, silverware, cups, was all reusable. The event had a platform that made absolutely everything digital. We also decided to scratch the idea of a “swag bag” and give out gorgeous, etched pilsner and wine glasses along with a caricature drawing. We wanted to send guests home with a gift, but didn’t want to send them home with something they wouldn’t use ever again.
Our florist partners for the event, Greenwich Floral, had amazing centerpieces for the tables. The pieces did not include any use of foam and accents were made with wood. VCAS auctioned off the centerpieces and guests were able to take them home to enjoy, so we didn’t throw away any flowers and we were able to recycle.
I loved being able to help VCAS celebrate their victories and bring their supporters together. The board members, directors, and the shelters’ media manager are an amazing group of people. We look forward to planning the next gala with them, rumor is it will be in 2021, so stayed tuned!