Ask the Bartender: When I Give, What Gets Got?

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It's that time of week when we answer the questions you're too drunk or shy to ask...This one came from Jaime:

When you go to a charity event, how much of the money actually goes to a charity? I read the fine print at a recent event that said "A portion of tonight's proceeds will go to.."

We had a saying in catering, "You have to spend a lot of money to get rich people to give some of theirs." Now, that's not fair to all rich people, but who cares? They're rich. The fact of fundraising--from bake sale to black tie gala--is that creating an event and giving an experience gets people to give.

The sticky wicket in the phrase above, "a portion of" can mean anything. Hotels and catering facilities give steep discounts to many charities, treating a fundraiser like advertising. The thought is that the people who will come to the event have money to give, and maybe the venue will book some parties out of it. If you pay $100 for a three-course meal, the venue might want as much as half of that to cover costs.

With, smaller charity events it's more important that as much of your $100 per plate go to the organization as possible. Whereas with big fundraisers like the PONCHO wine auction, the bulk of the money comes from the sale of the highly desirable auction items

Generally, if an event makes the claim that "All proceeds go to the Blahbadeeblah Foundation" that means 100% of your ticket or plate charge. It's always a toss up as to whether the money from the bar, especially if it's a cash bar, goes to the charity or goes to cover a venue's costs, usually the later.

However, it seems Merriam-Webster doesn't really have an answer to your question, either. Definition #1 reads "the total amount brought in," and definition #2 conflicts, stating "the net amount received after deduction of any discount or charges." You can always call the charity and ask. You might get the run around because charities feel awkward about the whole "spend money to take in money" way of things, but they should be able to tell you what portions of the evening are donated and what where your money will go.

When in doubt, just write a big, fat check.

Got a question for the bartender? Email me HERE.

 
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