The next time you're entertaining clients or trying to win new ones, it could help to give a little -- at a charity fundraiser. Often these affairs offer entertainment that the old wine-and-dine can't hope to match. Many include auctions for donated items not available elsewhere, and some attract celebrities and sports figures. One such event is the Andre Agassi Grand Slam for Children, an annual benefit concert with performers such as Elton John, Stevie Wonder, and Faith Hill.
Outings like these make an impression that lasts longer than the memory of the priciest five-star dinner. Last fall Joshua Aaron, president of Business Technology Partners, a New York City-based IT services firm, took one of his major clients to a day at Shea Stadium that benefited children's welfare programs. The two men received baseball uniforms and played ball with retired Mets and Yankees such as Rusty Staub and Joe Pepitone. Says Aaron, "My client had a phenomenal time." Plus, he was able to share in the good feeling that comes from aiding a worthy cause.
Tickets can be pricey, but the cost could actually help your bottom line. Tax deductions for meals and entertaining are limited to 50% of expenditures, but if you go to a fundraiser, the charitable contribution portion of your bill is usually 100% deductible. So, if you take clients to play in the San Francisco Zoo's annual golf outing next month, you can deduct everything above $300 per person, the normal cost of the golf round, food, and a goodie bag. Plus, you can save some endangered grizzly bears.
These events will wow clients and help a cause:
Wildlife Invitational, San Mateo, Calif., May 23, 2005 ($2,000): This annual golf outing supports operations and special programs for the San Francisco Zoo. 415-753-7171, www.sfzoo.org
Andre Agassi Grand Slam for Children, Las Vegas, fall 2005 (tables start at $8,000): Proceeds from this concert and charity auction go to underprivileged children in southern Nevada. 702-227-5700
Support Our Canine Heroes Wine Gala, Napa Valley, Calif., October 1, 2005 ($250): Guide Dogs for the Blind throws this four-course dinner prepared by several Napa Valley chefs and vintners. 800-295-4050
Jeremy's Heroes Black Tie and Sneaker Gala, New York City, November 2005 ($500): Previous auctions featured signed sports memorabilia and a chance to spar with former heavyweight Gerry Cooney. Proceeds go to children's athletic programs. 877-654-6773, www.jeremysheroes.org