Friday, March 19, 2010

Charitable Giving

Americans have always been generous givers to charity. Regardless of our differences, in the end most of us want to "do the right thing" and help those in need.

When Haiti suffered its horrific earthquake earlier this year, the US rushed aid and supplies to the region. In addition, as stories of the immense suffering poured out, thousands of Americans showed their concern by donating to various Haitian relief organizations.

Which makes this story in yesterday's New York Times disturbing. A concert organized to raise fund for Haitian relief will yield little in the way of actual dollars. Instead, the costs of raising the funds - despite the performers working without pay - will consume most of the proceeds.

BTW: I remember reading years ago that numerous performers will no longer do charity concerts just for the reasons highlighted by this article.

Here's an excerpt, with the full link below:

More Cash to Go to a Hall Than to Haiti

Published: March 17, 2010

Lang Lang, the celebrity pianist; Christoph Eschenbach, the conductor; and the Schleswig-Holstein Festival Orchestra are taking the stage at Carnegie Hall on Sunday night in a concert trumpeted as a fund-raiser for the earthquake-ravaged Haiti. But what ticket buyers may not realize is that far more of their dollars will go toward concert-hall rent and marketing than to anyone in Haiti, with the biggest chunks going to stagehands and newspaper advertisements.

Chang W. Lee/The New York Times

Christoph Eschenbach will conduct Sunday at the benefit featuring the Chinese pianist Lang Lang, top, and Schleswig-Holstein Festival Orchestra.

Even if the event’s nearly $200,000 worth of tickets sell out, less than $8,000 from the sales will go to the cause. The concert, though, is expected to raise some money, thanks mainly to a $50,000 subsidy by the Montblanc company and $10,000 by CAMI Music, the concert’s presenter and Mr. Lang’s management agency. Montblanc had promised to help pay for the concert well before it was transformed into a benefit, a decision made at Mr. Lang’s request. The performers, including Mr. Lang, are waiving their fees.

Officials of Unicef, the actual aid recipient, say that no matter how much money is earned, keeping Haiti in the public’s consciousness after the earthquake headlines have faded is invaluable.