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New Yorkers Celebrate The Possibilities For Education At the 2013 Pratham Gala

Pratham 2013 Gala in Seattle
Pratham hosted a Gala in Seattle at the Museum of History & Industry
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Earlier this month, nearly 600 of New York City’s leaders in finance, technology, and entertainment gathered at the 2013 Pratham Tristate Gala. It was a night of generous fundraising, a celebration of the world’s children and critical volunteer work, and to learn more about Pratham’s commitment to improving education.

Pratham’s mission is to ensure that every child in India is in school and learning well. The organization was founded ”on the firm belief that education is the fundamental right of every child and no child should be deprived of this basic right simply because they don’t have access to school or resources that would enable them to realize their dreams.” Since 1994, Pratham has raised funds to fund urban learning programs that include improving libraries, establishing preschool education, and remedial classes, among other things. Pratham also seeks to shape school policy in many districts, provide books and tools, and help with computer literacy and English learning. These are a handful of the many ways that Pratham is improving the lives of children in India through education.

Pratham is a past recipient of the Henry R. Kravis Prize in Leadership, as well as the prestigious Skoll Award for Social Entrepreneurship, among other honors. It is one of the most renowned nonprofit organizations with a focus on providing and improving education for under-served children. During nearly twenty years of commitment to advancing education opportunities in India, Pratham has garnered immense support from all around the world, and is a true leader in creating social change.

During the 2013 Pratham Tristate Gala in New York City, keynote speaker Chelsea Clinton said,

“One of the things we most respect about Pratham is not only its tireless focus on education, but that it very much tries to fill the gap between what the public sector can produce and the aspirations of families in India.”

This very sentiment was proven that evening, as the generosity of Gala attendees helped to raise close to $2 million for ongoing advancement of schools and school programs in India. One guest said that Pratham is “a global celebration of what people do for education.” Indeed, the organization inspires action in those who believe that education really is the most powerful tool to better the lives of underserved children around the world.

For more information about Pratham’s remarkable work, visit www.prathamusa.org.

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Robin Hood Foundation Gala Raises Over $80M

jessica biel robin hood gala
IMG: Helga Esteb via Shutterstock

On Monday, May 13th, the Robin Hood Foundation hosted a gala to raise money to help fight poverty in New York City. Over the course of the evening, the foundation raised over $80 million. The event was chock-full of celebrities, business leaders, and other well-known faces, many of them donating significant amounts of money to the cause.

Mary J. Blige, Bono, Elton John, and Brian Williams were among the entertainment for the night, as were comedians Louis C.K. and Jerry Seinfeld. Newlyweds Justin Timberlake and Jessica Biel also attended the event, stopping to chat with New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg. Paul Simon and Sting performed together on stage.

In 2011 the event raised about $47 million. In 2012, that number was beat by an impressive haul of $59 million. This year’s $80 million knocks both those numbers out of the water. The event was co-chaired by Timberlake and Biel, as well as by Paul Tudor Jones II and his wife Sonia; Henry Kravis and his wife Marie-Josee; and Leslie Moonves and his wife Julie Chen.

This event certainly isn’t the first time the Robin Hood Foundation has brought in big names, though. Last December, the foundation put on a benefit concert entitled “12-12-12,” with proceeds going to victims of Hurricane Sandy. Musicians like Bruce Springsteen and the Rolling Stones performed at the concert.

Funds raised and distributed by the Robin Hood Foundation have been used to install libraries at public schools in NYC, feed homeless and hungry New Yorkers, provide for victims of 9/11, and support victims of Superstorm Sandy—to name a few.

Read our profile of Henry Kravis here.

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Young Philanthropy in New York

chelsea clinton
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It seems like younger generations are getting more generous every year. Famous or not, rich or poor, young Americans are lending their time, money, and effort to a variety of philanthropic ventures. In New York City, the same is true, and this year the popular New York Observer will be honoring twenty philanthropists under 40 at a gala designed to raise philanthropic awareness.

The event, called “Young Philanthropy,” will honor a number of well-known names and faces in the NYC philanthropy scene. Let’s take a look at a few of the well-to-do winners:

Chelsea Clinton: The daughter of former President Bill Clinton and former Senator Hilary Clinton, nearly all of Chelsea’s life has been lived under the spotlight—and unlike so many of the young and famous, her image is pristine. Her charity work includes support for the Clinton Foundation, the Clinton Global Initiative, and the Walkabout Foundation.

Amanda Hearst: As heiress to her father’s media conglomerate, the Hearst Corporation, Amanda has a lot to live up to. She is a socialite, activist, model, and most recently is the associate market editor for Marie Claire. Amanda also founded Friends of Finn, which is a charity that fights inhumane treatment of dogs in puppy mills, and is an active member of Riverkeeper, an environmental nonprofit organization.

Alejandro Santo Domingo: Like Hearst (whom he coincidentally dated for several years), Alejandro is an heir. He and his two brothers, Andres Santo Domingo and Julio Mario Santo Domingo, Jr., are heirs the majority stake in SABMiller, a South American beer company. While his career revolves around managing the conglomerate, he is also a member of the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Board of Trustees; is on the board for the international nonprofit group, Endeavor; is on the Latin American Conservation Council for The Nature Conservancy; and is on the Board of Directors for DKMS Americas.

Other honorees of the night include Lauren Bush, Jesse Cole, Alexis Feldman, Michelle Harper, Lydia Hearst, Eric Trump, and many more.

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How Effective Are Galas at Raising Money?

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IMG: Land Rover MENA via Flickr

Gala benefits have received their fair share of criticism over the years, with many individuals complaining that they are an inefficient way to make money for organizations. Indeed, galas do take a LOT of volunteer time and money to put together, but there’s no question that they can also bring in stunning amounts of donations when carried out properly.

Gala benefits require staff—waiters, bartenders, auctioneers, DJs, and more—and it’s not always possible to find good Samaritans willing to volunteer, so part of the revenue must go toward paying those employees. If a gala is carried out correctly, though, costs should be minimized and donations should far outweigh them; if not, an organization could lose money hosting a gala.

Gala benefits are hosted for a few purposes. First, they tend to get people excited about a cause. Second, they might honor a particularly committed or influential donor/community member. Third, they raise money through tickets, auctions, and donations. One-time donations are popular among guests who aren’t overly involved in the organization, but it’s certainly possible that other more committed donors could emerge.

Donations at gala benefits may not be as altruistic as simply writing and sending a check, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Revenues will be smaller because of the cost of the event, but donors will get a chance to socialize and get each other excited about the cause. This can ultimately create more “buzz” and awareness within the community, which could attract new supporters.

When organizing galas, groups should be sure that the hosting committee is full of influential and affluent members of the community. People with better connections will create a bigger buzz and can attract more donors and attendees. Some of the biggest and best galas have been hosted by well-known names: Actress Sarah Jessica Parker (Dance By Design), Vogue contributing editor Lauren and husband Andres Santo Domingo (DKMS Linked Against Blood Cancer), and businessman François-Henri Pinault and wife Salma Hayek (Costume Institute).

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Adam Lambert Donates “Birthday”

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This year, Adam Lambert decided he didn’t need any gifts for his birthday. Instead of making his 31st a traditional celebration where people fawn and bestow unnecessary gifts, the birthday boy is asking that anyone wanting to wish him a happy birthday instead donate to the We Are Family Foundation (WAFF).

Lambert is exercising his philanthropy bone by encouraging his fans to donate $31 to WAFF in exchange for which they will be able to record a short birthday greeting to send to him. Those donating less than $31 will be included as well, and will get to sign the “world’s biggest” birthday card.

It would seem that so far, Lambert’s proposal has paid off—the foundation has already received over $16,000 in donations for his birthday. Apparently fans just need to be encouraged a little bit to be more charitable. It also helps that WAFF is a heartwarming organization on a powerful mission.

WAFF is a nonprofit “dedicated to the vision of a global family by creating and supporting programs that inspire and educate the next generation about respect, understanding and cultural diversity—while striving to solve some of our biggest global problems at the same time.”

The foundation strives to bring peace to people of all cultures, and to connect us together by reminding us of our common bond of humanity. Lambert will be honored at the WAFF 2012 Celebration Gala with the Unity Award. The Gala will be hosted by Rosie Perez and Toure and will take place at the Hammerstein Ballroom in New York on Thursday, January 31st. He is also set to perform with Nile Rodgers at the gala.