Tuesday, November 9, 2010

The Jew Don'ts of Philanthropic Events

Written by: Dave Goodman

You wear uncomfortable clothing, get a haircut, practice your handshake and work the room.  That's right, you're hitting a Jew do!  Not quite the same as Jersey Shore, but to many, just as exciting.

I sit somewhere in the middle of the spectrum, excited for some, not so much for others, but all in all, event organizers, be it professional or volunteer put countless hours of detail and hard work, plus the Jewish stress (stronger than other forms of stress) making these happenings significant.  Raising necessary funds that keep vulnerable Jews above water while simultaneously keeping the Jewish community tight = nice formula.  However, in practice, it can be a nightmare, especially when you are up against some of the biggest critics in the world; diaspora Jews.  Here is a prime example of a "Jew Don't" at my most recent Jew-Do experience...

I'm gonna put something out there to any event pros working with celebs - whether they are A-listers or Hack C or D listers like Mike Bullard or Howie Mandel...don't be afraid to tell them what their role is.  Let's face it, you dedicate a large percentage of your event budget (money that was donated by attendees and volunteers of the event) to pay for these individuals to raise the profile of your event to draw more awareness, participation and funding.  When you pay someone, you should get what you want from it.  What happened last Thursday evening at the Baycrest Dancing with Our Stars (Season 2) is the driving force behind this post.

The jaw-dropping critique of a Top-Fundraising Volunteer dancer
Now I have never been to this event before, but 5 contestants basically learn how to dance (over the course of 5 months) and must do so in front of 800+ people in a gala setting.  This is after they have raised a record setting $2 million plus for cutting-edge geriatric research and development at the world-class institution at Baycrest.  Last Thursday evening at the Sheraton, two of the five dancers were mocked by the judges in a roast-like fashion that made my fraternity speech to outgoing brothers look charming.  The disgust of attendees in the room was palpable.  The aftermath and negative buzz in the community of this event left a terrible taste in the mouths of donors and attendees alike.  Will the negativity of this event's Jew-Don't be strong enough to jeopardize future Dancing with our Stars galas? 

Volunteer Fundraising Stars at Hoops 4 Israel 2010
I can't possibly imagine subjecting these people (my top Fundraising volunteer-participants) to the most embarrassing moments of their life.  They go out and rally their networks to support an important Jewish cause for my org.  I can summarize the Jew-Don't phenomena with a book I just found called: 'Satisfied Customers Tell Three Friends, Angry Customers Tell 3,000', and cannot emphasize the importance taking care of your top donors at major Jew-Dos.  On a smaller scale, I have had mishaps with top fundraisers and know the fallout can be hugely detrimental to the integrity of an event, not to mention the sustainability of it. 

The thing is...sometimes when you Jew-do, you really Jew-Don't.  I don't even know what that means, but it's catchy isn't it?

As you were...

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