Including Generation Alpha at Your Gala

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Are you thinking of including children at your next event? Trying to be proactive in teaching philanthropy to our young people?

Generation Alpha is defined as those born between 2010-2024. A little math help will tell you that includes children from birth to age 14. While that’s a big gap, some people would consider all children under the age of 18 to be children. Even the Met Gala in New York does not allow children under the age of 18 to attend. Why? “It’s not appropriate,” replied Anna Wintour, chairperson of the Gala since 1995 and Vogue Editor-in-Chief since 1988. There must be something to her requirement as the Met Gala has raised over $175 million since its inception. Let’s dig deeper into fundraising with and without the presence of little ones.

First and foremost, fundraising galas are just that…FUNDraising. The event is meant to raise money to support their mission and programs. For example, an organization that has 350 seats and a goal of $350,000 gives each seat a value of $1,000. Even though you’re willing to pay the “$100 ticket price” for your child, that is not going to help the organization reach its goals. Most often, the ticket price only covers the dinner, venue, décor, etc. Overall, fundraising comes from the paddles going in the air, whether it’s for the live auction or the Paddle Raise/Fund A Need (FAN).

That being said, let’s look at some pros and cons of having children at a fundraising event that is geared toward adults. We’ll even include ways of including “Generation Alpha” at your next gala that will hopefully inspire them to see philanthropy as an essential part of being a loving and compassionate human being.

First, the Pros:

  1. By seeing generosity and how others give, they learn how it can benefit the health and well-being of those in need.
  2. They spend family time with their parents and learn how their parents support non-profits.
  3. There are incredible long-term health benefits for those who are philanthropic.
  4. According to the University of Nevada, Reno Extension, youth who volunteer are more likely to do well in school, graduate, and vote. So, getting them started early in volunteering is HUGE!
  5. The parent doesn’t have to hire a sitter!!!!

Now, let’s look at some of the Cons:

  1. Content may not be appropriate for children.
  2. Many adults consider this a time away from their children and don’t appreciate being around someone else’s children. When someone brings their child, your date night just turned into volunteer babysitting.
  3. They are taking the seat of someone who might be in a financial position to support the organization more.
  4. Some attendees will see this as a distraction. Even the parents might be distracted, feeling the responsibility of taking care of their child.
  5. Kids are unpredictable. Even though you’re assured that “my child” is mature and used to adults, maybe other attendees don’t want to be forced to sit by them and converse.
  6. If you bring a child, you’re responsible for watching them all evening, making sure they behave, having them fed, and not letting them sleep on the floor next to your chair where someone can fall over them.

So, how can we teach children the importance of philanthropy in a way that might not be distracting to donors at a gala?

  1. Consider volunteering roles they could do prior to the event, such as selling raffle tickets or collecting donations.
  2. Highlight their talents with a performance during the cocktail hour.
  3. If it’s a private school, have the students fill roles that evening, such as promoting the live auction items, passing hors d’oeuvres, or selling Golden Tickets. Once the social hour is over, then the students can exit, but they’ve still played a role and supported the event.
  4. Substitute another daytime event that your child can participate in. Maybe the organization is doing a 5K, a family picnic, or trivia/pizza time that your child can volunteer for.

TRY THIS- If you really want children to have the experience of a gala, then have your Junior Board put on a “Children’s Gala” complete with fundraising, activities, and educational opportunities about the organization’s mission. Picture this: centerpieces with gummy bears, lollipops, and art supplies. How about a Step and Repeat with Superheroes? Wouldn’t a buffet include all of the comfort foods like chicken tenders, pizza, and mac and cheese? Ok, sorry–I got sidetracked. We’ll save this direction for another article!

We all know that having your children engaged in helping others and giving back is rewarding in so many ways. It instills generosity, altruism, responsibility, ambition, respect, open-mindedness, and confidence. But wait, there’s more! One of the biggest takeaways could be provided by statistics that show youth volunteering for just one hour per week are 50% less likely to abuse alcohol or cigarettes, become pregnant, or engage in other destructive behavior.

Regardless of the stance you take, remember that there are certain rules of etiquette involved with bringing children to an adult festivity. If it is an invitation event and the invitation doesn’t include your children, according to Miss Manners, “They are not invited.” And lastly, there are expectations of guests attending a fundraising event. So, if you choose to take your child, plan on donating for them as well.

MEET

Shannon Eason is an International Auctioneer Champion and has been doing fundraising events, presenting seminars and workshops, and private coaching for over 30 years. Clients include American Cancer Society, Children’s Heart Foundation, The Magic House, St. Louis Public Radio, and numerous private schools and nonprofits. For more information, email shannon@raisingpaddles.com.

For 20+ years, the MEET family of products have provided regional and national resources that have kept corporate, association, medical, education, independent, and religious meeting and event planners informed about relevant vendors, industry news, tech innovations, and resources that impact and influence how and where they plan their group business.

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