I certainly had much trepidation about Palms’ Inaugural Annual Solidarity Awards and Fundraising Dinner. For a start the big name, which evolved with each new expectation we had for the dinner, became somewhat daunting.
The business of Palms is usually undertaken with much less fanfare, as you might expect of an organisation encouraging all involved to live justly, love tenderly and walk humbly. Past Palms dinners have been about celebrating milestones and at a price that allowed as many returned volunteers as possible to attend. A dinner with such high ticket prices was always going to mean excluding many of those who learned through their Palms’ placement that to live in solidarity required living more simply.
The dinner was seen first as an opportunity to broaden Palms’ donor base; to bring on new donors, perhaps corporate donors. We have so many requests from communities enthusiastic about potential opportunities to develop knowledge and skills, that we decided to explore the generosity of the big end of town. More donors means mobilising more skilled Australians to develop practices and processes that assist to prevent malnutrition, improve infant mortality, achieve valuable educational outcomes and much more.
We expected the great return on the investment, would be a salient proposition to those engaged in business. A $10k investment can put a skilled Australian worth $70 – 100k to work at the disposal of a requesting community for twelve months. It seems the corporates are not yet convinced, but some loyal supporters did make great contributions.
Maybe current supporters (you) can assist to find new donors who appreciate the return (quadruple the value of their donation). It can be a really meaningful engagement for an Australian Community and is a great way to assist requesting communities afford to host a skilled Australian. Ask for the CommUNITY Toolkit to get started.
Secondly, the dinner was a chance to highlight Palms’ values to current and potential supporters. To this end we created the Solidarity Awards. The call to live in solidarity and our efforts to raise funds through an expensive dinner did create a little tension in my mind, but getting more people to consider living in solidarity is not an unhealthy tension. Attempting to live in solidarity will always be a challenge, but unless more of those with the greatest access to resources are invited to that challenge, Palms’ vision of a just and peaceful world free of poverty will not be achieved.
I believe Palms staff ensured our inaugural dinner was a success on both fronts. Yes, I expect most would be happier if more of their ticket price went to mobilising volunteers than to the venue, but we came up with around $18,000 profit, which will keep an extra volunteer in a community for 12 months, so for one requesting community the dinner was worthwhile. As importantly, many guests reported that hearing of the contributions and attributes of those after whom the awards were named, as well as those who received them, did help to inspire a real appreciation of Palms’ core value.
Dr José Ramos Horta, Gary Stone, Indira Naidoo, the Solidarity Choir and lots of others behind the scenes created a wonderful night. Once again we highlighted Palms’ commitment to solidarity by providing opportunities for cross-cultural relationships of understanding, acceptance and care. Make sure you claim the date in your diary for Palms Annual Solidarity Awards and Fundraising Dinner on Saturday October 5th, 2013.