3 Fund-Raiser Options: Chevy, Caddy, Or Rolls

Posted by Dave

I live in the Dallas suburb of Irving, a city which – if it is known at all nationally – is most recognized as the home (for one more season) of the Cowboys.

A number of arts organizations bring culture to our town. Each of them stage fund-raisers whose profits are added to their ongoing grants and subscriber support. The problem they all face is that – even in a city of 200,000 – there are only a certain number of arts patrons. And – as rich as some of these folks obviously are – the depths of their pockets are finite. With all these cultural groups in town pursuing the same money, how do they survive?

Answer: by planning specialized fundraisers, which appeal to different tastes (and budgets) the same way various automobiles do. Among them are…

1. The Cadillac. Our Symphony League’s annual moneymaker is an upscale dinner dance, complete with the traditional silent auction and raffle. Its unique feature is the introduction of each year’s “Symphony Belles.” This is as close to Irving gets to a debutante ball. So – in addition to the usual generous donors – Symphony Balls draw the friends and relatives of each Belle, and the Beau who escorts her. And while I would never suggest that the selection of a Belle or Beau depends on how many tickets their inclusion may sell, the League’s choices do seem to generate a lot of filled seats – with their resulting revenue.

2. The Rolls-Royce. Lyric Stage is our link to Broadway. So their annual event (which includes both silent and live auctions and a raffle) is “Cabaret.” The elite meet at our swankiest venue for an elegant dinner followed by a “name” act who puts on a concert-quality musical show. Nationally-known entertainers help draw patrons from the greater Dallas-Ft. Worth area. The greater the fame of the performer, the more new faces (and wallets) show up. It’s an expensive (and therefore risky) venture, whose greatest virtue is its well-earned reputation as a classy night of good food followed by stellar performances.

3. The Chevy. Much more accessible to middle class budgets like mine is the Community Theater Guild’s Mardi Gras event. Held on Fat Tuesday, it’s a party! Sure – there’s an auction and raffle – but neither interferes with the New Orleans ambience of the evening. Dinner, dancing, and fun is what this night is about. Unpretentious, with an emphasis on bon temps (good times), it draws both new and repeat business each year.

Of course, the usual suspects – they of the deep pockets – are present at all three evenings. But what keeps these – and our other – arts groups in business is their ability to cast a wide net throughout the community. By attracting me to one gala, and my neighbor to another, Irving’s arts mavens keep the culture coming.

(Be honest with me: I’ll bet you thought you’d never hear the words “Irving” and “culture” in the same sentence!)


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