Invitation or Donation?


A few days ago, Sandra and Will were invited to a black tie charity dinner by Mark, an influential colleague of Will’s at the office. Mark told Will that he had bought a table for ten, and he would love it if Sandra and Will would come to the event as his guests.  He told Will, as a bonus, there would be lot of potential clients for them to network with during the evening.  Will graciously accepted the invitation, and went home excited to tell Sandra about the swanky affair.

When Sandra heard the story, she panicked.  Cash was tight…  Not only were they in the middle of renovating their kitchen, but she just found out her long term freelance gig was ending in a couple of weeks.   Sandra was certain that although Mark invited them as his guests, they would be expected to make a donation equivalent to what Mark paid for their plates  – which could mean $500 or more!

Sandra thinks they should decline the  invitation, but Will wants to attend – and thinks they can get away with donating $150 or so.  Sandra thinks that’s absolutely tacky, and believes it’s Mark’s goal to get people there who will contribute generously to the cause.

What is an appropriate donation in this situation?  What would you do?

Tell us what you think! 

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3 Responses to “Invitation or Donation?”

  1. louie says:

    If the networking opportunity is important a max $200 donation would be in order. Sometimes it takes money to make money. I’m quite sure the invitation was not meant to be a pocket drain to begin with.

  2. Lesley says:

    I agree with louie – while some donation is advisable, I do not think that anywhere near $500 would be expected. In fact, as Mark paid for the table…there has been a “donation” to the charity already. An additional $150 – 200 would be appreciated. Often there are silent auctions that you can participate in, and if you don’t win you don’t pay. In this case, get there early, bid with confidence that you will likely be outbid. You have helped to move the auction along and if you win nothing, you pay nothing. Then write a check you are comfortable with at the end of the evening. It’s classy – not tacky.

  3. Molly says:

    I agree with both Lou and Lesley. Great advice!

Any Thoughts?