Thursday, May 14, 2009

Out: Grandiose Charity Benefits, In: Informal Events

According to The New York Times, this year charities are taking a less is more approach with their special events. Why? Given the recession, many attendees no longer have the discretionary income to pay for expensive tickets to charity galas. And the public backlash against wealth (think of the AIG bonus scandal), has other benefactors thinking twice about their attendance at high-end events. As such, the article highlights some ways that charities can lower their expenses (use balloons instead of fresh flowers for decorations) and thereby reduce the price of a ticket without impacting the bottom line.

Our research shows that special events can be woefully inefficient ways to directly raise charitable funds. So encouraging charities to pare down their costs and strive for greater efficiencies is a trend we welcome. However, given their ability to generate publicity and cultivate long-term relationships (called friendraising by some), we’re not so naive to think that charities are going to abandon their use of benefits all together.

We're curious about your thoughts on this development.

  • Nonprofit fundraisers – Has your charity scaled back the grandeur and ticket price of its special events this year? If you’ve already had your event, are attendance and sponsorship down?
  • Donors – Do you think it is tacky to attend an elaborate event in light of the recession? Have you put a cap on your special event spending this year?


3 comments :

Suiven Foundation Editor said...

I'm hosting my 1st annual youth charity event in Detroit later this year. My original and staying plan is to produce a low-budget, high-efficiency charity event that kids and adults alike can enjoy. In light of these trying economic times, I can see enrollment declining because people nowadays have a preference to pay bills and scale back on some of their giving.

It hurts charities and the potential of reaching out to more children, but I personally feel that the wise way to do it is to have a grand old time entertaining one another with talents and natural gifts that we have. They are priceless and it truly beats out $300 centerpieces and ridiculous $250 plates (plus, the food don't even be THAT good!)There are other measures to take to make sure that much money is being raised and everyone is being enetrtained for cheap...

mreindl said...

I've heard about "Virtual Galas" and similar events where people buy tickets for an event that will not take place. There is the usual event promo & hype but no cost goes into the event itself. I have to think that given today's economy, this would appeal to donors - especially those who are expect thier charities to be more frugal. I would love to hear from someone who has held one of these virtual events and how well received it was by donors.

Mark Petersen said...

I saw your post right after receiving a bottle of Okanagan wine couriered to my office, along with a request for me to attend a fundraiser in September for $1k per person to assist a community in Africa. If luxury is on the downswing, it wasn't apparent just now. I find this kind of approach to be akin to bribery, and as a foundation exec I find it tasteless.