Why do we still “party for a good cause?”

Austin Monthly January 2008 cover January 2007 Austin Monthly

Just wanted to point you to the January issue of Austin Monthly (cover story: “Top Dentists), which includes an extensive list of fundraising events for the entire year.

I imagine it took a team of unpaid interns a few hundred phone calls to knock this one out. It lists more than 100 “social” events from January to December, from the January 17 Winter’s Tryst Black Tie Dinner benefitting the Amercian Reperatory Ensemble ($150 per person) to the December TBD-date of the Winter Gala benefitting the Austin Playhouse ($25). I suggest you pick this one up if you’re into galas – and who isn’t?!

My main beef is in their calling it a “social calendar.” I guess it suits the magazine’s audience better than calling it a fundraising calendar, as Austin Monthly readers respond better to stories about socializing than raising money. That’s okay, of course. As they say in the intro, “Austin is filled with nonprofit organizations and philanthropic individuals working to make a difference.” And champagne helps. The “roundup of major benefits” is “evidence of just how far our charitable giving reaches.”

Yeah, it starts at St. Thomas and ends at the silent auction table.

Sorry. I’m such a teenager sometimes. Will GoodCause be different? Only slightly, I’m afraid. The plan is to cover the galas and social events, of course, but we hope to look at them more as a convergence of people celebrating a year’s worth of efforts toward helping a good cause rather than a fete at which to be seen enjoying “scrumptious treats.”

The fact is, most of Austin’s fundraising efforts are via these fundraising events. We’re a young city that likes to dress up and dance.  Since our first shot at an editorial plan for the magazine, I’ve listed a story that would investigate whether galas are actually the most cost-effective way for an organization to raise money. I don’t think anyone thinks that, really. So the story would try to find out what their value really is – Why do we keep planning, organizing, executing, and attending these things anyway?


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