I live in DC. One of the three cities in the US (the other two are Los Angeles and New York City) where extravagant events are held often. All ostensibly arranged to raise money for great causes.
For years, I attended those that benefitted kidney patients. If you’ve been reading my blog for at least a month, you know why. But, when you are without a “plus one”, going to such events is not only an extravagance, but a melancholy experience. Nevertheless, when a friend is chairing the event or it’s a client (I have about 5 non-profit clients who honor me by choosing my assistance), then you can find me there. With or without a special plus-one.
Of course, there have been a slew of fakes. One of the biggest examples of those was Tareq Salahi (and his sometime wife, Michaele) and his “Oasis” (the vineyard and the enterprises). Tareq arranged fundraisers, often in concert with polo events. (That’s why I know about the Salahis- my good friend, Warren Almquist [a great architect, I might add] has been smitten with polo for as long as I’ve known him.) You probably know the couple as the ones who crashed the state dinner at the White House- or maybe because you are into reality shows (The Real Housewives.)
CharityWorks wasn’t quite like that. This group, which had its origins some 15 years ago, raised money for different charities each year- often via a theatrical and extravagant event held at the National Building Museum each autumn. But, while it raised a ton of money for various charities, it never was a 501(c)(3), a charitable organization as defined by the Internal Revenue Service code.
Instead, this entity held two fundraisers a year – and chose a charity or two that would benefit from the proceeds. They chose a “partner”- an educational charity or one that benefits the military families- and pledged the event profits to the charity. And, over the 17 years of its operation, it managed to yield about $ 13 million for various designated non-profits.
In the heyday of the economy (early 2000’s), the charities got big checks- to the tune of $ 1 million or so. This led the smaller non-profits, the ones that lacked the resources and abilities to raise significant funds- to apply for grants from CharityWorks. If their non-profit were selected, the organizations would be highlighted in the event publicity and at the events themselves.
However, after a while, these smaller charities were kept waiting. And waiting. Because the funds were never being funnelled to them as promised. Now, CharityWorks claims that the beneficiaries didn’t understand the process- that it may take up to two years to provide the funds or that the beneficiary wasn’t using the money as it had promised (and were, therefore, cut off).
And, since CharityWorks is a private entity- without that coveted 501(c)(3) designation, records are scant- if they are present at all. It seems that CharityWorks spent some $ 600K for their most recent events- which is an amount that would normally be considered legit if one managed to raise $ 5 million for the charity- but CharityWorks seems to have had no money left over to donate.
But, there are good causes to assist. There’s a group that I am proud to be advising. The 007 Benefit, Ltd. This group was started by Thu Stubbs as a labor of love. Like CharityWorks, she started out by finding organizations that were dedicated to helping our wounded warriors (not like the famous organization you see on TV that spends way too much on fundraising- and salaries). And, Thu is a star- with her looks, her energy, and her drive- and for years worked her ass off, raising funds for these various charities.
But all that changed a year ago. Ms. Stubbs decided that dealing with all these smaller charities took too much – energy, time, concentration- away from the real intended recipients. So, she retained our services to help her become a legitimate non-profit.
And, this year is the first time her fundraiser is being run under her own aegis (it has already filed the required annual 990 with the IRS for the few months she operated last year), complete with a professional staff (most of whom are also doing their work as labors of love.) Because she wants her organization to be a star among the non-profits, one that won’t resort to spending 35% of their donations on “overhead”. (That’s called salaries for the organization’s employees, advertising, rent, etc.) Instead, she opting to exceed passing through 90% of the moneys raised for the purpose intended.
But, that also depends on you- the public. The 007 Benefit, Ltd. wants a portion of the $ 373 billion total donated to charity last year to end up benefitting the wounded warriors. In addition to a slew of smaller events, the big fundraiser this year is right before Halloween, the 29th of October at the Fairview Park Marriott. The Masquerade Ball has a designated beneficiary: Warrior360. It will be a grand night of food, music and dancing.
Be there! If you can’t make it, why not make a donation to help the 007 Benefit, Ltd and its beneficiary, Warrior360?