Partying in the name of charity
Senior News Editor
The 14th annual Charity Ball, themed Cirque, will be held on Feb. 3. Hamilton Convention Centre will see hundreds of McMaster students piling through its doors, dressed to impress.
Over the years, Charity Ball has been seen as the biggest formal for McMaster students, and until recent years, has been consistently sold out. Each year, a charity is carefully decided upon. The charity is chosen based on a proposal given by the charity, as well as its contribution and connection to McMaster
students and the surrounding Hamilton community.
Each year, 90 per cent of after-expenses revenue is donated to the chosen charity. The remaining 10 per cent is dedicated to the Alumni Advancement’s McMaster Senior Class Gift Fund. Proceeds from Cirque, will support Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Hamilton and Burlington and the goal is to sell 1,300 tickets to reach a target donation of $15,000.
As hundreds of students put money toward a charitable cause for an evening of dance, entertainment and light gambling, it seems very few students are fully aware of the charity aspect of Charity Ball.
Although embedded in the name “Charity Ball,” a mere three out of 30 randomly sampled McMaster students, all of whom were familiar with Charity Ball, knew which charity was to be supported by Cirque.
MSU Charity Ball Chair 2012, Christine Corso, contended that most students do understand and are aware of the charity aspect of the formal, noting that many students, when deciding between a faculty or club formal and Charity Ball, are more inclined to support a charity over a non-charitable formal.
Aware of the need to effectively communicate the charity supported by the Ball, a separate advertising campaign was established for the Big Brothers and Big Sisters aspect of the proceeds. But such advertising appears to be relatively scarce in comparison to the promotion presenting Charity Ball as an entertainment-oriented event.
Corso explained the intention of the posters as a means of relaying important information about the event as concisely as possible without being visually overbearing. “Without overwhelming people with posters, we need to communicate the date and time, and which charity we are supporting is also important, and that is why we had a separate ad campaign for it.” She also acknowledged that the promotional methods employed for Charity Ball have, in recent years, had to compete with other campus clubs and faculties holding their own formals, which has led to a decline in Charity Ball attendance.
In its early years, Charity Ball tickets would invariably be sold out, so advertising efforts were relatively weak and virtually unnecessary until recently. Corso noted that it is possible that as the need for Charity Ball promotion increased, “the charity aspect may have gotten lost in that, and [the event] started being advertised as more of a formal.”
Last year, Charity Ball raised $9,500 for The Ronald McDonald House, falling well below the preceding two years, which raised $31,500 and $27,500, respectively.
With hundreds of tickets sold for a night of fun in the name of charity, there may be something to be said about the fact that the charitable aspect of the night is drowning in the glitz and glam of the formal event.