Is This the End of the Charity Gala?
While running corporate philanthropy at a public company, I received thousands of emails and letters requesting sponsorships for various nonprofit events. The majority of inquiring organizations approached corporate philanthropy the same way as 30 years ago: Sponsor our event, buy a table, give us a copy of your logo to display. But amidst an exploding and socially-engaged workforce, the charity gala is quickly becoming a relic of traditional philanthropy—falling short in driving real, sustained engagement with donors.
The charity gala was the hallmark of traditional checkbook philanthropy for decades, and the majority of these events follow the same formula: Hold the event in a hotel or convention space with an hour of cocktails followed by a chicken dinner, a video and/or speaker to heighten emotions, and then an hour (or more) of the dreaded, drawn-out live auction with the local celebrity.