This week’s Chapter Spotlight is Eta Sigma (Lafayette), who recently hosted their second annual Red Dress Gala. A key focus of their event is alumnae engagement and involvement which led to a festive, philanthropic evening for all.
Event Name: Red Dress Gala
Location: The Eastonian, Easton, PA
How long has the Eta Sigma chapter been hosting Red Dress Gala?
We’ve been hosting Red Dress Gala since September 2015, so this coming September will be our third Gala. We host Red Dress Gala on the same weekend as Lafayette College’s Parents’ Weekend because it not only enhances event attendance and donations, but also introduces our chapter to our newly initiated members’ families.
What did you change that contributed to the success of this year’s Red Dress Gala?
We changed quite a bit from 2015 to 2016. Our first Gala was a brunch, but this year we switched to a formal dinner. We also changed venues; while our current venue is smaller, parents noted that they preferred and enjoyed having all aspects of the event (seating, silent auction, dance floor, games) in one room. This was different from our first Gala’s venue, which was held in multiple rooms.
What games and activities did you have at Red Dress Gala to keep your attendees engaged?
Our latest Gala was very successful in engaging parents and guests, as well as raising more donations for Alpha Phi Foundation than ever before. The combination of organized activities, a sit-down dinner, a silent auction, and dancing, made for a great evening that engaged all of our guests.
Our silent auction featured very generous baskets put together by our families, and we organize games of Heads or Tails. Guests participate by guessing whether a coin will land on heads or tails. This continues until there is one guest left standing, who receives the winning prize. We also host a balloon game, where we sell balloons to our guests for a chance to win a bottle of wine. When the time comes for our guests to pop their balloons at the same time, if the guest’s balloon holds a piece of paper they win! We were also very fortunate to have an Alpha Phi alumna, Susan Sherman (Epsilon Nu-Delaware), speak about the Foundation and the importance of raising awareness of women’s heart health.
How do you involve both local and chapter alumnae in your event?
In order to improve our chapter’s relationship with area alumnae, we send invitations for our Red Dress Gala with the hopes that they would not only attend but also strengthen their involvement. We’re also getting ready to debut a chapter newsletter, which will be sent at the end of every semester to keep alumnae informed and included in what we are doing.
How does this event empower you and your chapter members?
As this is my first year as a member of Alpha Phi, I feel extremely empowered by Red Dress Gala. We hold the event only a few weeks after Bid Day, so as a new member it made me proud to be a part of this sisterhood and to show it to my parents. Red Dress Gala has become very special to our chapter. It is unlike any other event that any Greek organization on campus hosts and we’re raising awareness for an important, but often overlooked, cause.
Do you have any advice for other chapters hosting Red Dress Galas?
First and foremost, staying organized is key. This is a big event, and it is easy to feel overwhelmed. I would recommend making a checklist for the event, starting with the event date and venue. Then, I would recommend starting to look at a list of local alumnae on the Alpha Phi website. For Eta Sigma alumnae specifically we found that the most recent alumnae showed the most interest, so I would prioritize them. With a well-organized calendar and a reliable team behind you, any chapter can host a successful Red Dress Gala!