Charity events/dinners

Colleen27

DIS Veteran
Joined
Mar 31, 2007
I've served on the planning committee for two for quite a few years before the pandemic and am now taking a bit of a break from attending. I love charity 5Ks and there are a few my daughter and I do either virtually or in-person every year, but I really don't enjoy the dinner-and-auction type of fundraiser. The first few years on the committee of the bigger of the two events were fun because we always had a theme and committee members were expected to dress to the theme of the event, which was Mardi Gras one year, Vintage Vegas another, etc. so a good excuse to be a bit extra for the night, but the novelty wore off pretty quick. The other org. does casual-dress events with far less theming, which actually got boring even quicker. LOL

I agree. When I help with planning, I never offer to help with solicitation. My mom was great at that and would ask anywhere. She even went to the indie record store filled with counter culture teens and 20 somethings that none of the other parents would go to. She thought the owner and employees were nice and always got big donations from them.

Same. I enjoyed working on the creative end of things and didn't mind sourcing donations or low-cost supplies for decorations, centerpieces, etc. to carry out our theme, but I always made it clear that the soliciting auction items was best left to someone else. Fortunately we had a few volunteers who are amazing at it, so if we all just stuck to our strengths everything ran smoothly.

No, I am not at all interested in attending those kind of events. If I want to donate money or goods to a cause, I will just make the donation. These big flashy events cost money that the charity could just put toward their cause.

I would be very surprised if that is true for any org. worth their fundraising salt. Tickets are generally priced such that they cover the per-plate cost of the venue plus incidentals like the DJ/band and decorating budget, in my experience, and most of the auctioned and raffled items are donations so those are pure "profit" for the host organization. The larger of the two events I was involved in usually draws 200-300 attendees and raises around $50K after expenses. It would be pretty tough to try to solicit that much in direct donations.
 

tcufrog

DIS Veteran
Joined
Jul 18, 2012
I would be very surprised if that is true for any org. worth their fundraising salt. Tickets are generally priced such that they cover the per-plate cost of the venue plus incidentals like the DJ/band and decorating budget, in my experience, and most of the auctioned and raffled items are donations so those are pure "profit" for the host organization. The larger of the two events I was involved in usually draws 200-300 attendees and raises around $50K after expenses. It would be pretty tough to try to solicit that much in direct donations.
I completely agree. DS11's small school usually raises more than 50k during the dinner/auction. The cost of holding the event is usually covered by the cost of the tickets and sponsorships. You can sponsor the event, teacher tables (they come for free), the bar, etc. The money raised through the auctions and the raffle is profit. Nothing else we've tried has raised nearly that much money.
 

longboard55

DIS Veteran
Joined
Oct 9, 2014
We went to a pretty high end private high school. For the fund raiser they would sell VIP tickets and put those people in the front tables and feed them free drinks. When the auction starts the VIPs would be falling all over themselves to outbid each other. They collected a lot of money. Us in the back just enjoyed the show
 

starry_solo

DIS Veteran
Joined
Nov 19, 2010
I volunteer for one charity and do the annual fundraiser (last one pre-COVID was 2019). We just had ours last week. It went well, although we had too much food leftover because, even though we had 90 people RSVP and pay, only 50 showed up. UGH...
 

TwoMisfits

DIS Veteran
Joined
Feb 21, 2002
Big fancy dinners are a big risk for smaller charities.

I remember when my kid joined the community choir. They had a history of doing formal dinners/balls as their "one big fundraiser" - and then they lost $10K on it the year before I became a member. So, when I joined, they had no money and no way to raise it, and were desperate, and I put together a dinner and auction with all donated product (including the entire dinner) - it was not formal, since my donated dinner was from fast casual and casual sit down locations, so it became a full family event and it raised $25K-$30K.

That said, I worked WAY harder on that than anyone had ever worked on the formal dinner/balls b/c those just involve booking a room and caterer and music, guaranteeing a minimum head and spend, and then setting a price and advertising.

This was my crash course into the community arts and fundraising...as a parent volunteer, I was actually happy when I got out from under this and my kid just joined the Church choir for her singing b/c once you make that much money and put in that much work, they hope and ask for you to do it every year...
 

mrodgers

DIS Veteran
Joined
Oct 29, 2009
These event costs are more than covered by the ticket price. Example, the dinner I referred that cost $200 per ticket, I'm sure that the per guest cost was between $50-$100 each. So the charity made $100-$150 per person PLUS the money brought in by all the auction/raffle items. Would all those people who attended have just donated $100 to the charity? Probably not. They are also a great way of networking and advertising. I have attended events where my husband's employer purchased a table for $X that included 8 tickets. They got the business name on the signage, website, programs, and it shows that this business invests back into the community. There's a lot more going on than just showing off. Same goes for charity golf events.
I'm too cynical and believe that you missed some important numbers like how much of the $200 after the costs goes to pad people's pockets. I don't believe one bit that any charity event like this is about being a charity. It's about padding pockets.

Then there's the bold, which you contradict yourself. Name on the signage, website, programs, and showing they invest back into the community is exactly that, showing off.
 

PollyannaMom

I was a click-clack champ!!
Joined
May 16, 2006
I volunteer for one charity and do the annual fundraiser (last one pre-COVID was 2019). We just had ours last week. It went well, although we had too much food leftover because, even though we had 90 people RSVP and pay, only 50 showed up. UGH...
We had some of that at our first one back as well. I think it was still covid-related: a combination of people who weren't quite comfortable at a big event yet, but still wanted to support it, and people who intended to come, but were exposed or not feeling well, so stayed home.
 

WDWEPCOT

DIS Veteran
Joined
May 2, 2009
I work for a charity and I can say there is NO padding of pockets going on - it’s hard work raising money these days - we don’t do very many events any more just a couple - we have 5 employees and everyone else is a volunteer - the 5 are worker bees not high end employees - salary cost is low and is covered by one of our Board members through his donations
There are a lot of honest hard working charities out there - it’s a real shame that some make others look bad
I have a lot of respect for anyone who works or volunteers or donates time money or items to charities - you have no idea how helpful you are being and how much it is appreciated by so many
Thank You !! ❤️
 

firefly_ris

DIS Veteran
Joined
Nov 25, 2015
Yes we have gone to a couple as representatives of my BIL's firm -- things like Boys & Girls Club charity/auction dinner. Then we also attend a yearly auction dinner for my FIL's high school alumni association. Both organizations do pretty well with those. The caterer works at a reduced fee and some of the deeper-pocketed alumni spend big on the larger ticket auction items. And then the rest are smaller, silent auction items which can be fun to bid on.

What we do more frequently though is small fundraising events for the local churches and catholic school such as meat raffles and basket raffles. There's not a dinner involved in those, but they also seem to be good fundraising events. Baskets are assembled and donated so it's basically all profit. Also popular in this area for fundraising are prepared dinners -- Fish Fry Friday dinners, Chiavetta's chicken dinners or clam chowder. In the summertime, they often have like a picnic area to eat them there, but since rona a lot of these have converted to "drive thrus" where you order ahead and pick up in a drive-thru line.
 

RangerPooh

DIS Veteran
Joined
Aug 6, 2005
Most are just now starting to restart. I've been to a few crab feeds. My kids school had a big charity dinner and auction every year. Went a couple years as a volunteer to work the auction, never bought a ticket or took part in the dinner. Catholic High School auctions are wild. Someone paid $5,000 for a basketball autographed by the girls basketball team. They also auctioned off a $30,000 cruise, and a $60,000 Lexus, and both went for over $10,000 over value. Never seen so much money flying around.
Sounds like our local elementary school. It's ridiculous how some outbid each other in an attempt to one up each other.
 

NotUrsula

DIS Veteran
Joined
Apr 19, 2002
While I agree that charities do make it a point to cover costs and ensure profit on special events, many times that doesn't include the labor cost of the people who are arranging them, and many times, those folks are paid staff. I spend time around Development people pretty often, and I'd honestly rather they be able to use their time making contacts and explaining the mission, as opposed to sweating over invitation samples in 6 different possible fonts. Big events *do* incur higher production costs, and depending on the type of charity it is and where the event is being held, sometimes that level of production is just unnecessary, and the profit might be just as high without all that time/effort spent on being "extra" about it. Quite honestly, there are often quite a lot of potential donors who are put off by excess. Even when it's profitable; they just find it offensive.

PS: As to the "pockets" topic, while I think that actual skimming is very rare, what I do see sometimes is certain vendors getting event jobs even though they are not the lowest/best bidder, because of their "special relationship" with someone influential. Sometimes they throw in extra services or upgrades to make up for the higher price, but not always. I've seen problems crop up at times when "connected" vendors don't deliver what was promised. I've seen how much the stress of walking that particular tightwire preys on folks who work in Development; it's hard for them.
 
Last edited:

Imzadi

♥ Saved by an angel in a trench coat!
Joined
Oct 29, 2004
That's what I do for a living. I organize these types of events for non-profits.

One of the things I do is work for special event companies who organize a lot of these fundraising events around NYC. Like the Met Gala a couple weeks ago. I used to work the catering end. Now, I'm on the organizing side and am actual event staff.

Sometimes it's really crazy how much the ritzy high-end events spend to put on an event. I know how much I get paid for a day working at one of them.
Times that by 10 people on the organizing staff.
Times that by 20 -30+ waiters + the food catered.
Times that by a florist and the floral arrangements.
Times that by a band or orchestra.
Times that by the lighting crew for specialized lighting.
Times that by a professional photographer.
Times that by the party rental services for tables, chairs, plates & glassware.
I'm sure I'm forgetting several people.

It boggles the mind because all those monies could fund many smaller non-profits for a whole year. :sad2: (I'm glad all of us putting on the event are being paid well for our services. Yet it's ironic considering these are fundraisers.) But, the "ladies who lunch," an actual term for many of the Real Housewives of NY & NJ who often chair the high-profile fundraising committees they've chosen, want to show off what they've done to the other housewives and their millionaire/billionaire husbands. They want the posh parties and the evening gowns for these events. They often try to out do each other in just putting on the events. Not including the money raised. I've often seen them air-kissing each other, complimenting each other on what a wonderful event they've put on. :rolleyes:
 
Last edited:

CdnCarrie

DIS Veteran
Joined
Aug 17, 2009
No. I see a few advertised for hospitals and such but way out of my price range! And we wouldn’t know anyone attending.
 



Latest posts





Top