Dastardly Philanthropy Dinners Turn a Night Out With Friends Into a Chance to Do Good

When things happen, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed and ineffective. In an effort to build a community and bring a little good to the world, one of my good friends started hosting what I like to call a Dastardly Donor Dinner.

The idea is pretty simple: my friend Amanda, who cooks and cooks great food and invites as many people as she can fit at her table. She takes care of everything and simply asks the guests to donate whatever they normally do at the party to the ACLU. Wonderful evening. Not only can you eat good food and hang out with cool people, you have this pleasant, charitable byproduct that doesn’t feel like a compulsion.

Of course, you don’t have to cook dinner. You can have a lazy charity brunch, a lazy charity cocktail hour, or a lazy charity taco on Tuesday, but the key to an event’s success lies in these three tips:

  1. Don’t ask for a specific amount of money, but have people donate “whatever they would normally spend” for lunch, a drink night, or even a movie night with popcorn and candy. Also make sure your guests know about the donation in advance; nobody likes fiscal surprises.
  2. Have a direct link to your chosen charity ready and have people donate directly from their smartphones. (You can even print it out on seating cards or menus if you want to fantasize.) This saves you the hassle of dealing with cash / Venmo / personal checks and keeps donated amounts private.
  3. If you really want to know how much money you’ve raised, you can pass a piece of paper and ask people to write the amount without signing their name.

The choice of a charity is also entirely up to you. The ACLU is always a good choice, but I know of another organization that needs a little help right now that rhymes with the word “long-term parenting.”

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