Philanthropic Friday: Use Your Event Savvy to Give Back

For the past decade and a half, I have worked in the nonprofit sector. On a daily basis I see the positive impact that philanthropy can have on a community. When people identify a cause that they are willing to champion and then commit to making a difference, the results can be magical. And you don’t need to be a millionaire to change the world! There are simple ways that each of us can have an impact. This Entertaining Family post provides you with just a few.

The next time you are hosting a birthday party, holiday gathering, or any other kind of special event, consider doing it on behalf of a charitable or cultural organization….because, quite honestly, who needs another gift. By highlighting a nonprofit organization, you will increase the profile of your cause, elevate your event, and feel good about the investment you are making…

Here are some ways to do it:

Identify a cause that you are passionate about, and then find a reputable organization that aligns with your passion.

Economic development, education, HIV prevention, children’s advocacy, environmental policy, visual and performing arts, animal protection….there are so many important causes that need our support. My personal passion is supporting organizations that help all children, regardless of background or ability, reach their greatest potential. There are a few special organizations that I know are doing quality work, and those are the agencies I get behind.

The first step in making a difference is finding the organization that is right for you. As a starting point, research the longevity and reputation of the nonprofit, the program outcomes and results, the percentage of each dollar that goes to support programs over management and administration, and the overall fiscal health of the organization.

Use your next event to raise money for your chosen organization. Here are some ways to do it:

Set an achievable fundraising goal and ask your friends to help you get there. Make it easy for them by asking each guest to write a check to your selected nonprofit for a specific amount…$500, $100, $50, etc. Let them know that you will match their gifts at the end of the night. Then use your event to help your friends understand where their dollars are going. Highlight the mission of the organization and the work that is being done to further your cause…and, of course, explain why it is important to you.

On your next birthday invitation write, “in lieu of gifts, please make a donation to the charity of your choice.” That’s what I did for my 40th birthday. Rather than move forward my agenda, I wanted my friends to use the occasion to support their favorite organization. We’ve taken this approach with my daughter’s birthday as well. It has been hugely successful and it has given her an understanding of philanthropy at a young age.

Get your friends to join you for a volunteer project.

For some organizations, volunteer support can be just as valuable as a check. Get your friends and family to join you for a “service day.” Pick something that will fuel your soul.

As a kid, every Thanksgiving week my dad would take me to serve meals to families in need. Some years I would pour milk, others I would scoop mashed potatoes, and sometimes I would sing holiday carols with children in the dining hall. Being in service to others is one of the greatest gifts in the world – I thank my dad for teaching me that early on and for making it a family tradition.

Instead of throwing a party at home, host a table at a gala that supports your cause.

Purchasing a table at a gala can be expensive, but when you consider the dollars are going to charity it can make it a worthy investment. And there are benefits to taking your intimate party to a larger social gathering: you don’t have to shop for food and beverages, you don’t have to clean your house, and BEST OF ALL, there are no dishes to be done.

For the past ten years, my best friends, my husband and I have attended an Oscar Night Gala that supports a children’s agency in our community. We love the occasion to get dressed up, watch the Academy Awards on a movie screen, and walk the red carpet. In exchange, some of my friends have introduced me to their favorite nonprofits by giving me a seat at their table. It is a really fun way to learn about, and to support, a great cause.

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Use your next event to make a difference in the world.

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