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First steps to philanthropy

Look before you leap into supporting a nonprofit

Once you settle into a community, it can be fulfilling to support nonprofits that help causes you’re passionate about. The options can seem overwhelming, though. There’s also the peril of becoming too involved with an organization too quickly, before realizing it’s not a good fit for you.

My advice for your first step is to attend a fundraising party hosted by a group that piques your interest. You’ll get to mingle with its supporters while hopefully having fun and meeting new people in a relaxed atmosphere.

An exception is the performing arts. In that case, buying a ticket to a performance is the way to go. Opera Carolina, the Charlotte Symphony, North Carolina Dance Theatre and most of our theater groups host fundraisers, but if their shows don’t resonate with you, it won’t matter how great their parties are.

To get you started, here’s a list of a few of my favorite fundraisers organized by interest. If you can’t wait until some of these bigger events roll around, check each organization’s website for updates on other events.

The Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Art + Culture’s biggest fundraiser of the year is the Jazzy Holiday Luncheon. Guests dressed in festive business attire kick off the holiday season at this fun luncheon that includes entertainment and an awards ceremony. Dec. 6 from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Westin, 601 S. College St. Details: 704-547-3781; www.ganttcenter.org.

Historic Rosedale Plantation’s “Feast of the Hunters Moon: An Antebellum Dinner” is a five-course meal accompanied by special wine pairings. The candlelight dinner is served under tents set up among the circa 1815 plantation home’s grounds filled with ancient treasure trees and shrubs including 200-year-old English boxwoods. Oct. 21 at 6 p.m. $150 per person; seating is limited to 150. Details: 704-335-0325; www.historicrosedale.org.

The Humane Society of Charlotte’s annual Ties & Tails Gala is the only formal event in Charlotte where dogs are invited. Each year about 400 humans and 50 canines (only a limited number of dogs can attend) gather at this black-tie optional evening to enjoy dinner and entertainment. Oct. 19 from 6 to 11 p.m. at the Westin, 601 S. College St. $175 per person; $25 per dog. Details: 704-494-7711; www.humanesocietyofcharlotte.org.

International House provides services to Charlotte’s growing international community. Normally, its annual gala is devoted to the culture of a different country. But in honor of the nonprofit’s 25th gala this year, the theme hits closer to home. Titled “America the Beautiful,” it will showcase regional American cuisine, dancing and entertainment. Oct. 23 from 6:30 p.m. to midnight at the Westin, 601 S. College St. $150 per person. Details: 704-333-8099; www.ihclt.org.

The Bechtler Museum of Modern Art is still in the planning stages for its annual gala on March 28, including ticket prices. What we can tell you is that it will tie in with a major exhibit by Mario Botta, the famous architect who designed the museum’s landmark building uptown (420 S. Tryon St.). Based on past galas, you can expect artfully prepared food, live music and entertainment as creative as the guests this event attracts. Details: 704-353-9209; www.bechtler.org.

Young Affiliates of the Mint, a diverse group of young professionals who support the Mint Museum, host their biggest party of the year during the Kentucky Derby. Set for May 3, 2014, on the lawn of the Mint Museum Randolph (2730 Randolph Road), guests dress in hats and seersucker to play games on the lawn. There’s also music and a large-screen viewing of the race live from Louisville, Ky. Details: 704-337-2010; www.youngaffiliates.org.

Olivia is the social editor for the Observer.
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