Light the Way

Light the Way to Fundraising Event Success

Great lighting at fundraising events is POWERFUL – not only is it paramount for a positive guest experience, but it also significantly alters and influences people’s emotions. Seriously. If you can influence people’s emotions, you’re on your way to influencing (and increasing) their desire to give in support of your great work. Professional lighting is the LEAST expensive way to add the MOST visual impact. 

Read on for lighting tips and ideas to implement into your next fundraising event or benefit auction.


Light + Color = Mood

Light and color have a profound impact on human emotion. They create immediate responses. Before your brain even registers, “Oh, what a lovely color,” there’s a deeper part of it already telling you how you feel. What an enormously powerful tool, right? Working with pros on this task is a wise investment. They’ll learn and understand your goals; then use their expertise to help you develop a lighting and color strategy to meet those goals.

Right Light for the Task

Where do you want bright task lights at fundraising events? Where and when do you want dim – or slightly dim – lighting? Where do you need spotlights? What about uplights? Where do you want to add pizzazz with color? The answers depend on where you are in the event; not just your physical location, but where you are timing-wise. 

Use light intentionally. Use it to draw folks to where they need to be, to help them do what they need to do, and to set the right tone while they’re doing it. For instance, upon arrival at the venue, they should immediately see a registration area.


Light this baby UP! Point your big beautiful signs at check-in, and make sure those registration terminals are well-lit. Hold off on mood lighting, until folks are registered. 

Bright task lighting at registration is a must so folks can read and see what they’re doing and signing. Check-in volunteers need plenty of light to work effectively and get guests checked in quickly. You’ll often see white and yellow at event entrances. Both colors convey a sense of welcome, hope and optimism. Yellow can also mean caution. So think of stoplights and use this color carefully and intentionally.

Social Hour

The social or cocktail hour is a great time to liven things up and have some fun! Think color. Feature projection lights dancing and moving along walls, ceilings or floors. These lights serve as both attention-getters and conversion starters! Show some love to your sponsors, by displaying their logos with lights or digitally, as opposed to dark, static signs. Also consider aiming some light at those signs, to garner maximum attention.

Revenue Streams

Highlight all revenue stream areas with loads of light, bold signage and enthusiastic salespeople. Bright lights, directional lights, colored and ambient lights – the works!

Silent Auction

Call attention to your silent auction with rope lights on tables, directional lights and uplights.


If you’re playing games, light ‘em up! Another great place for moving projection lights. And color! Weave color into all of your revenue streams, and put some thought into the mood you want to convey. Is your crowd passionate about wine? Maybe you want to use red lights in your wine wall area.

Wine Walls

Red is an exciting color. It inspires passion and can make people feel energized. But don’t leave it up too long, or people will have a hard time chilling out for the main event and the main course.


Which brings us to dinner! Dinner lighting at fundraisers is generally soft, ambient and a great area for the uplighting we just mentioned. This is also the perfect time to project images (with a bit less movement) onto walls. We absolutely LOVE the way our long-term client Dress for Success Oregon does this with stars. It adds movement, interest and visual impact.

Live Program

Now we’re getting to the live program, so it’s time to talk stage lighting. You’ll want brighter lights illuminating the front of the room, than the ones trained on the crowd. What you DON’T want is spotlights pointed directly at the stage. If your auctioneer can’t see the crowd, they can’t see bid cards. If they can’t see bid cards, they can’t call out numbers accurately and you’ll lose money. So dedicate about 60% of your house lights to the folks on stage – your speakers and Dynamic Duo – and about 40% to your crowd.

Videos + Special Appeal

Here’s when it’s time to dim the lights a bit, if you have them on at all: During videos, especially your special appeal or paddle raise. If you have a speaker, bring that person into the spotlight with low house lights, so all the attention is on them. The color blue is known to increase communication. Purple is a royal color, which helps with reflection. In preparation for your special appeal, pros will use these colors – subtly yet effectively – to get your guests in a pensive mood. They’ll pay closer attention to your storytelling, thus increasing the emotional impact. Now your guests are feeling moved, inspired, AND – most importantly – GENEROUS!

Live Auction + Sales

Light up the sale! Rule of thumb – the closer you get to fundraising, the brighter your lights should be. The psychology of people SEEING others give and bid inspires them to do more of the same. So light up the crowd during all of the live elements: Auction, special appeal/paddle raise, raffle winner drawings, and games. Shine some light on the event’s heroes – your loyal donors!

The After Party

All right, now that your event is over, and the hard part is over (for now); it’s time to PARTY! Throw out the rules and throw on mood lights for a celebratory after party. The more moving, flashing, blinking lights, the better! Disco balls. Strobe lights. Even the folks experiencing the event virtually will stick around for a flashy, colorful afterparty. You’ve worked so many hours on this event, so celebrate! Celebrate your success with your loyal fans. 

You could just rely on house lighting provided by your venue – but why would you? Dress up your event and theme. Elevate your branding. And influence how folks feel! Experts will add color and pizazz to your event with the careful use of lights. They’ll do it intentionally and strategically. An expertly-developed color palette influences learning and touches people in deeper, more meaningful ways. This is precisely what you want.

Invest in pros! Now that you have a grasp of how effective professional lighting can be, all that’s left to do is contact us. We’ll make it work for you and your org!