Another side effect of the current recession? The dwindling number of charity benefit galas with exorbitant prices per seat/table. The New York Times ran an article about this the other day which gave a small insight as to the reasons why these benefit galas are going the way of the dinosaur (for now).
Why? Because an honoree is not chosen just to give a speech and be feted. He or she must be willing to make a big donation, usually from the company’s coffers, and — more important — to invite friends and contacts to the gala who will buy $20,000 tables or single tickets for $2,000 to $3,000, bringing new support to the organization.
So imagine that you’ve been chosen as the honoree for the XYZ Foundation and that, as a part of your “honor,” you’ve been asked to fill a number of $2,000 to $3,000 seats or $20,000 tables for the gala dinner in your honor. I don’t know how anyone could go to their family, friends, and associates during these times and ask for this amount of money to go to a dinner. Seems a bit outrageous.
Many of you know that I sit on the board of a national foundation and we’ve seen a similar occurrence taking place. In fact, we’ve lowered the cost of our galas from $500 per ticket to $250 per ticket. The hope is that with the lowered cost of attendance, we can (of course) get more people in the room, but get a wider diversity of socioeconomic classes in the room, too. Our first lowered-price event takes place next month and I think it will be a huge success.