NEW YORK - Forgoing the usual gala dinners and lavish luncheons, some Long Island nonprofits are instead turning their annual fundraising dinners and dances into nonevents this year to save money.
Long Island Cares in Hauppauge canceled its annual Harry Chapin Humanitarian Award Dinner, opting instead to send out an invitation that appealed for donations.
Robin Amato, director of development, said that tough economic conditions caused the nonprofit food bank to think twice about holding its usual elaborate event.
"The overall feeling is we made the right choice," Amato said. "In some cases, people were happy not to go to something. They were happy to write a check."
Paule Pachter, the group's executive director, said the effort has so far brought in about $10,000. It's less than the dinner might have yielded, but Pachter said he has no regrets.
"Did it bring the return the gala brought us? No," he said. "But it brought us recognition and kudos. People respected what we did."
Ann Marie Thigpen, director of the Long Island Center for Nonprofit Leadership at Adelphi University, said nonevents are good options for cash-strapped nonprofits and their donors.
"People feel it's extravagant to spend money on events," Thigpen said.
Nonevents have another benefit for donors. Donations for a nonevent are fully tax-deductible, unlike tickets for a charity dinner or dance, which are partially deductible after the value of the dinner and entertainment is taken into account.
The response was gratifying for a nonevent held by the Nassau County Coalition Against Domestic Violence, which sent out invitations to its "First Annual Stay at Home Luncheon" in October.
"Please join us in the comfort of your own home," read the invitation, which included several suggested donation levels ($100 for a "baby-sitter," and $350 for a "stretch limousine" for the virtual event).
"It went extremely well," said Je'Reivien Kayo, director of development. "I think a lot of people appreciated the fact they didn't have to get dressed up, spend a lot of money on gas."
Plus, Kayo said her group raised $7,000 more than it would have if it had held the usual luncheon.
"And with less work, less manpower," Kayo said. "We loved it, we loved our return on it. And it's definitely a keeper."
Smaller nonprofits, too, are cutting back on their events. Friends of Hospice in Manhasset held a gala nonevent, sending out fancy invitations to its donors in August.
Laraine Williams, program administrator for the group and its sole employee, said it wasn't the group's first nonevent - it held a similar fundraiser in 2005.
But while the previous nonevent raised $5,000, this year's effort only brought in $300 after expenses.
That hasn't stopped Williams from considering future nonevents.
"It always won't be as terrible as it is now," she said. "The economy is just very bad for everyone."