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CEO Deborah Re Challenges Perspective On Charity Galas

Posted 03/20/2015

In viewing charity galas, check your cynicism at the door
Nonprofit work is so often the proverbial tree falling in the forest. How do we showcase the critical importance of corporate support if no one is there to witness the work? In her lament on the glut of charity galas, “The causes inspire, but the chicken (never mind)” (Page A1, March 8), Sacha Pfeiffer overlooks the primary purpose of these events: bringing corporate funders into the forest, so to speak, to witness the profound impact that their dollars are making on the community in which their employees live and work.
Pfeiffer writes that nonprofits persist with the gala because “they relish the opportunity to extol their virtuous works . . . in a room filled with hundreds of well-connected people.” This smacks of cynicism toward the aims of offering gratitude for a corporation’s support and taking advantage of the all-too-rare opportunity for an organization to stand before funders and say, “You made this possible. This is why your support is needed and necessary.” 
Rather than focus on rubber-chicken dinners, Pfeiffer might have recognized that galas are an opportunity to connect with our communities and to collectively improve them. They are a chance to look around that ballroom and realize that we are all in this together.
Deborah Re 
Chief executive 
Big Sister Association of Greater Boston