Recession Fails To Halt Spring Charity Benefits 2009: Save Wine

Recession Fails to Halt Spring Charity Benefits

To save money, wine bottles that were emptied at one fund-raising gala were washed, painted and made into vases for another.
Despite hard times, many nonprofit groups are proceeding with the charity benefits that are an annual rite of spring. But they are looking for new ways to save money, like scheduling events in donors’ homes and joining forces to cut costs. “We never thought of not doing the annual benefit,” said Stephanie Winston Wolkoff, director of special events at Vogue magazine and a board member of the . “The money raised by it is critical and vital to everything the Food Allergy Initiative does.” The organization was trying to figure out how to cut the costs of its annual luncheon when Ms. Winston Wolkoff sent an e-mail message to a friend, Heather Mnuchin, to invite her to sit at her table for the event. Ms. Mnuchin responded with a reciprocal invitation to sit at her table for ’s annual benefit later the same day in the same venue, Cipriani in Manhattan. “It didn’t click right away, but when I did realize that they were both the same day and in the same place, I went straight to Heather, and together we came up with plans that have cut more than half of the costs of the events for both of our organizations,” Ms. Wolkoff Winston said. Those attending the Food Allergy Initiative’s lunch sat at tables crowned by topiaries. A few hours later, City Harvest’s guests gathered around tables with some of the same topiaries. Both events used the same cherry blossom flower arrangements, votives and candles, and sound and lighting equipment and Raul Avila, whose company, Raul Avila Inc., plans and designs events, provided the décor at cost.
“You have to think outside the box,” Ms. Winston Wolkoff said. “You can’t just think in the old way based on the budgets we had in the past.”

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