Sunday, June 29, 2008

Mixing Fun and Philanthropy

So, I went to Bar Nine last night for two reasons--
1. Proceeds went to Girls Write Now
2. I thought Simon would like to hear Lucy Wainwright Roche so you know, it was all about mixing in some good fun with my philanthropy.

Given that I had spent all day working on budgets (June 30th being the end of many non profit's fiscal years, including mine) I thought this was a great idea.

The bar turned out to be packed and very few folks seemed to care much about either NY Tyrant or Girls Write Now. When Lucy started singing a cappela, I thought it would calm down but no, people continued talking, drinking and whooping it up, as if someone were not trying to perform folksy-type music in front of them.

Everyone except the 7 of us (6 from Girls Write Now and 1 who has a cartoon in the new NY Tyrant) who smiled encouragingly as she sang, by herself with only her guitar to help her. She got us to sing along to her version of Hungry Heart, which I did, not that it made any difference above the din.

She called out to us-- "Who are you guys-- you know the ones who are listening?" and we yelled back "Girls Write Now" which was kind of fun, and she said she'd come chat with us after two more songs. It was lovely to meet her and I now big pink puffy heart her. Mostly though, I felt bad for her having to sweat it out up there for 7 friendly folks out of a sea of a hundred or more party-goers. I don't think it was a good time for her at all.

The experiences raises some thoughts for me on mixing fun and philanthropy. Bar nights for non profits are considered to be a good way to appeal to a younger donor who might not give through other ways. The prevailing idea is that young adults are going to pay a cover anyway, so why shouldn't it go to a non profit?

To make this strategy work, non profit organizers should consider the following:

1) Fit of venue to activity (folk singing and Saturday night bar crowd might not have been the best fit)
2 Promotion at the door (Everyone should have to pay the cover-- if you think people won't pay the cover-- go back to step 1, maybe this crowd is not the best for your event)
3) Emcee the event (Let people know who is benefitting from the event
Opportunities to sign people up for the mailing list)

And while I am at it, drink tickets for the non profit benefitting from the event wouldn't hurt, but I may be biased...

Have you run a great Bar Night? Add your comments.....

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