Dear Urban Diplomat: how do I say no to philanthropic colleagues who invite me to $1,000-a-plate dinners?

Dear Urban Diplomat: how do I say no to philanthropic colleagues who invite me to $1,000-a-plate dinners?

(Image: Gavin Schaefer) 

Dear Urban Diplomat,
I have several philanthropic colleagues who regularly invite me to attend their $1,000-plus-a-plate fundraisers. It’s good for my image, and some of these colleagues are friends, but it’s getting expensive. How can I decline without jeopardizing my friendships (or my career opportunities) and looking like an uncharitable tightwad?
—Out-of-pocket calculator
KING WEST

All the lessons you learned about peer pressure back in middle school are still applicable: just say no; if your friends don’t understand, they aren’t really your friends, yada yada… That said, the city’s swanky fundraisers are a win-win-win proposition: worthy causes get big bucks, attendees get to write off their revelry, and brazen networkers get to glad-hand.

If you couldn’t care less about charitable causes, and fall into the what’s-in-it-for-me category of givers, choose the dos that offer maximum schmooze value—the high-profile events that will get your mug on the party pages and allow you to rub elbows with the mucky-mucks you’re attempting to court. If you’re invited to a lesser fundraiser, and you want to score points without anteing up four figures, send your regrets, but add that you still want to make a contribution. Then cut the organization a smaller cheque, and console yourself with the tax receipt. It may seem criminally duplicitous, but I doubt that will bother you. It certainly doesn’t bother me: if charitable outfits can benefit from the insatiable ambitions of inveterate climbers, I say more power to them.

Send your questions to the Urban Diplomat at urbandiplomat@torontolife.com