posted on May 04, 2007 03:00
The news that English enviromental charity Surfers Against Sewage have pulled the plug on their 2007 fundraising Surfers Ball on the basis that it was losing money, despite its popularity, raises the question whether charity gigs are really for charity ?
Listed by The Sunday Times as one of the top summer events to attend, atrracting crowds of up to 4,000 revellers and featuring live bands such as Razorlight and The Darkness just as they were on the cusp of chart succcess there is no question that the SAS Surfers Ball was one of the big social events in the English calendar but the spiralling costs involved in mounting the event meant that the charity was using its own funds, raised from other charitabe work, to underwrite and subsidise what was intended to be a fundraising event in its own right.
The simple economic fact is that the money that is raised for the named charity at the average charity gig is simply the net profit after costs, if there is any profit to begin with. Far from being first in line for a cheque, the charity is often last in the queue after all the supplier's costs are deducted. Yet, each week the Irish press is full of advertisments for charity balls and charity gigs for a host of worthy causes but when you read the after gig coverage you wonder who the real beneficiaries of the event are. Here is a brief excerpted media report of the backstage atmosphere of one high profile charity concert in Ireland, "Food was smoked salmon on brown bread and chicken wings carried around on platters. The venue was decked out in thick carpets, leather sofas and big gilded mirrors. Heavy velvet curtains separated the VIP bar from the main room." Hmm.
It's something that Surfers Against Sewage have been aware of and have decided to take positive action on since, if any charity event is not working first and foremost for the goal that the charity is devoted to, then it is pointless to continue with it. As they say themselves, "We are clear that we cannot run the event again unless we are confident it can raise significant funds for SAS. We can never allow ourselves to reach a position where our campaigning work may suffer as a result of us having to subsidise an event such as the Ball".
Maybe its time to say goodbye to the fundraising gig and hello again to just sending the charity the money in the post. I certainly dont want my hard earned donation to get turned into smoked salmon canapes for some Z list celeb.
To learn more about Surfers Against Sewage and to support their invaluable enviromental work: