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Most big LGBTQ advocacy organizations raise money the same way -- with donations from wealthy folks or flashy dinners at glamorous hotels.
The 45-year-old National LGBTQ Task Force does indeed utilize upscale meals for some of its funding (officials claimed close to $8 million in donations on 2016 tax forms), but it puts a refreshing spin on it. Since 2014, the Task Force has hosted an annual Night of 100 Dinners, which, instead of taking place at a stuffy venue, occurs in the private homes of dozens of Los Angeles philanthropists -- the next "Night" occurs this Saturday evening.
The smaller gatherings allow for conversation and connection instead of yelling over each other in a long bar line or being forced to listen to a TV star's jokes. Sure, it's networking, but since, ostensibly, everyone there is to raise money for LGBTQ equality, the discussions are usually more political, passionate, and concerned with what's happening outside those four walls.
"The goal was to create an evening that encouraged conversation in a social atmosphere, and at the same time providing an excellent dining experience," Kevin Bannerman, a long time committee member for the event, tells The Advocate. "While most fundraisers are held in hotel ballrooms, Night of 100 Dinners is hosted in a number of private homes around Los Angeles, with meals ranging from home-cooked to catered to an evening where everyone at the table contributed to making the meal."
After the dinners, guests from all the individual parties meet up for a dessert gathering at one of the homes, where they mingle, learn about the Task Force's anti-discrimination programs and efforts, and meet people and groups the organization is honoring that year.
The innovative "Night" has appealed to donors, with last year's event selling out and this year's close to it.
"Now, it is more important than ever that we stay connected and in community with others as we face new challenges every day," Bannerman says.