Special Events: Monmouth University
Paul Gaffney Roast
Submitted by Monmouth University
The submitters at Monmouth University subtitled this entry, “How Laughter Helped a University President Raise $10 Million.”
And indeed, the results of this off-the-wall gala are no laughing matter. With a budget of $280,000 and 600 guests, it exceeded its ambitious $1 million fundraising goal by a whopping $9 million!
This entire event was a lesson in how to think outside the box when it comes to galas. Retiring President Paul Gaffney wanted no parts of a retirement party but agreed to be the subject of a “roast” a year before he retired, the proceeds of which would benefit student scholarships, academic programs and capital projects. Event planners raised $575,000 before the invites were even sent out by securing 23 honorary co-chairs — $25,000 donors who would receive special recognition on the invitations and at the event. Other high-level donors got to film funny videos and participate in a group song to be edited together and presented at the event.
Planners made this event a real school- and community-oriented party and kept costs down by having it in the school’s multipurpose center, the building which was a major achievement of Gaffney’s presidency. The cocktail hour was held on the track, and the dinner and roast took place on the arena floor. The school’s veterans group presented the colors, and its pep band and glee club performed. All three groups got their start during Gaffney’s tenure.
Our judges were jazzed by the cleverness of the idea and the ingenuity of the planners — not to mention the $10 million results.
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