When The Tables Are Turned, Are You There For Me?

by admin on April 2, 2014

A good friend of my family, let’s call her Abby, who has a good heart came up with this event. She decided to host a spaghetti dinner to raise money for her FIL who has Multiple Sclerosis . The money raised would go to the foundation he belonged to so nothing collected from the dinner would actually go to her or her husband or to her FIL. She thought this would be a fabulous idea to raise money. She would cook a spaghetti dinner for all of her friends and invite them over on 2 consecutive Saturdays and ask people to either donate via the foundation’s website or there would be a place to donate money at the dinner. There was no set amount for the donation so realistically her neighbors could show up with their entire family in tow, all have their fill of the spaghetti and donate $5. As far as I know, she was buying all of the food and doing the cooking herself. Her house is lovely, but not large and could only accommodate a limited amount of people who would need to sit at a table in order to eat spaghetti.

She also intended on having silent auctions where the guests would bid on items that others had donated. For example, my sister, who is a hairdresser donated a free haircut to the dinner. People would bid on the haircut and the highest bid would pay to get the haircut. My sister called me up to discuss Abby’s plans and we both thought it was a mistake to hold a charity dinner of this nature at her home and impose or obligate all of friends (including all of my family) to come and donate to her FIL’s cause. We suggested selling hoagies, candy bars, etc. but Abby thought the spaghetti dinner was just such a good idea and she couldn’t be swayed. I know her FIL very limitedly. I don’t have many occasions to socialize with him and while I agree the cause is a good one, I’m not exactly bursting with enthusiasm to donate my money and to spend an entire evening eating spaghetti for it. I have other causes that I willingly donate my time and money to. I would have probably bought a hoagie from her, or several candy bars without batting an eyelash but even I didn’t want to attend the dinner and she is a dear friend. Email invitations went out and she told everyone to RSVP quickly since seating is “limited.” Abby is like our family, and has done many wonderful things for my family over the years. None of us felt we could say no. Almost immediately, 6 couples RSVP’d that they could not attend. Abby actually thought it was because they all had scheduling conflicts with the original dates she chose so she emailed everyone again to say she mixed up the dates and sent out the invite again. Save from my family, the 2nd email had produced zero RSVPs.

Last I heard Abby was thinking of canceling the dinner. It wouldn’t be much of a charity event if only the 5 people from my family attended but I haven’t received an email canceling the event as yet. In my estimation, her heart was in the right place but she was going about this all wrong. All of the food should be donated by others that are willing to support the cause and get advertisement for their establishment or business for free in return. She should have found a venue that was willing to donate an afternoon, evening or day and then advertised around town for everyone to come for the dinner to support MS. In that way she could have many people come and raise money instead of the limited people (i.e. her friends) she invited to support the charity. 0327-14

So, she is a “dear friend” who is “like our family”  and “has done many wonderful things for my family over the years” but when the tables are turned and you and your sister have an opportunity to do a “wonderful thing” for Abby’s family, you are weighing the cost to you and your families and finding it too much of a burden.

There are times in our relationships when we support friends and family even when we think they are making a mistake, particularly a well-intentioned, goodhearted attempt to try something new or different that we have a strong suspicion might not be the best idea.   You have to give people the chance to try and maybe fail and learn from it.    From my seat in the peanut gallery, Abby is at least doing something proactive whereas you are only offering her negative feedback about how to host an event you wouldn’t host yourself.   You could have viewed Abby’s dinner as a beginner’s trial run which teaches her better ways of fundraising or prepares her to host even larger events.   I’m a big advocate of beginning with small steps which gives a foundation of success for larger steps.

You submitted the story to cast Abby in the role of the etiquette clod but to be honest, you and your sister come across as thinking only of how this affects you.

 

{ 110 comments… read them below or add one }

technobabble April 2, 2014 at 9:37 am

I agree with Admin. OP spends a lot of time trying to justify why he/she does not want to give up a Saturday night to spend time with a good friend who is trying to do something for a good cause. If you don’t want to go to the event, and you think that doing so won’t negatively affect your relationship with Abby, don’t go. Just don’t complain about it.

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startruck April 2, 2014 at 9:55 am

i totally agree. i mean, even if you think she is going about it wrong, whats the harm in spending the day with your good friend, eating spaghetti and supporting a good cause? just think of it as building up good karma. and besides , iam sure at some point you have probably done something she didnt think was entirely awesome. if you really want to be a good friend and support her, you could try causally telling other people you know about it. so her turn out will be better. and you were right about one thing. her heart is in the right place.

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Kimstu April 2, 2014 at 9:55 am

I don’t understand the Admin’s comment about the OP finding this event “too much of a burden”. The OP says clearly that when Abby actually went through with sending out the invitations, none of her family felt they could say no, and they all RSVP’d accordingly. And as far as I can make out, after Abby changed the date they all accepted again.

Anyway, being a good friend and being there for your friends doesn’t require you to participate in charity events if you don’t want to. I agree that as a close friend, the OP should be prepared to do friendly favors for Abby and even rally round with money if she is really in need. But it’s not doing anybody any favors to go along with their suggestions against your own better judgement.

However, it’s true that the OP shouldn’t be giving Abby any negative feedback about her plan unless she specifically asks for an honest opinion. If you accept her fundraising-dinner invitation, just accept graciously and say nothing about your personal opinion of it. If you decline it, do so kindly and step up with suggestions for something else you can do to help Abby and her FIL (maybe drive him to one of his doctor’s appointments, or help him with some domestic tasks?). But save your criticisms for private discussions with your sister and your friendly debaters here at EtiquetteHell. :)

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Stacey Frith-Smith April 2, 2014 at 10:04 am

I don’t like being asked for money, even for a good cause, in a personal setting. But how much easier could this lady have made it? The money goes to the organization. The donation amount is open. You can even donate at home. You have fairly strong ties to her, socially. It’s true, you aren’t obligated to go. But then- you discuss her plans, suggest she change her plans, and end by sending her case to an etiquette blog. It’s not very nice.

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Mouse April 2, 2014 at 10:06 am

I’m confused. What faux pas has Abby committed? Sounds like the OP has criticisms of how Abby has planned this event, but there’s no evidence that Abby’s done anything rude. Seriously, what’s the problem here?

Personally, I would’ve happily attended Abby’s spaghetti dinner. It was for a good cause and I LOVE spaghetti!

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Phoenix April 2, 2014 at 10:08 am

Sounds to me that the OP is being a negative nancy. Lots of people use spaghetti dinners to fundraise.

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Mouse April 3, 2014 at 8:56 am

Here’s what the OP could/should do. Say, “Abby, I am sorry I can’t make it, but I will make a donation to {name of charity} in honor of your father-in-law.”

That would be the kind thing to do.

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acr April 2, 2014 at 10:13 am

I am not clear on the nature of this foundation. Is it her FiL’s foundation, or is it a larger-scale Multiple Sclerosis foundation? Regardless – nobody is covering themselves in glory here. I find Abby’s invitation borderline at best. But I find your suggestion that Abby leap into organzing some large-scale event to be questionable as well. Clearly, you really have no idea what organzing a large-scale charity event would entail.

I really don’t understand you would be willing to buy a hoagie or a candy bar, but not go to a spaghetti dinner? I, personally, do not like to be considered as a source of $ for my friend’s good works. But your objection seems to be to the spaghetti dinner, but not the fundraising itself? I agree with the Ehell Dame that you seem to be busy shooting Abby’s idea full of holes and castigating her for not doing this in the way you feel would be best. Are you an experienced non-profit worker or fundraiser? If not, why are you more qualified than Abby? If you would buy a hoagie for $5, why not donate $5 on the foundation’s website?

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Miss-E April 2, 2014 at 4:19 pm

Why is Abby’s invitation borderline? There’s no rule that says you can’t host a charity event and politely invite your friends. She didn’t tell people they “had” to, she didn’t threaten anyone or throw a fit when people declined. Yes, she changed the date but even the critical OP acknowledges that that was more of a misunderstanding than an underhanded action. Is it because her FIL has MS? A lot of people get involved in things that have affected loved ones. I don’t think she was raising money FOR him (like to pay his bills).

I fail to see how fundraising (politely) is a breech of etiquette and puts Abby in the hot seat.

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Wendy B. April 2, 2014 at 10:23 am

I think Abby’s only problem was the way she went about it. Dinners like this are held regularly around here…except they’re held in a large place with the dinner advertised at a set price. (For example, $8 per person, $4 for kids under a certain age.) Usually the money is donated to someone, but many people do it as a fundraiser for a bigger cause, such as Relay for Life. Abby could do this, and probably get a bigger response. Especially if she reaches out to restaurants/businesses for help. We have a wonderful Italian food company in our area that will supply almost everything you need (spaghetti, meatballs, sauce, place mats, aprons) at a cost of about 75 cents per person.

I think if I were Abby , I’d be less willing to help everyone she’s helped up to this point and direct my energy elsewhere.

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lakey April 2, 2014 at 10:24 am

These kinds of events are pretty common around here. I don’t have a problem asking people to attend and donate as long as the event is promoted as a fundraiser rather than a regular party.

Personally, I’d rather attend a fundraising party where you donate, than try to sell people candy or hoagies, but that’s just me.

I think that people do spaghetti dinners for these fundraisers because spaghetti is a relatively inexpensive and easy meal to prepare. If her home is small, with limited seating, a buffet of finger foods might have been more practical.

As far as people bringing in a whole family and only donating $5, anyone who would do that is cheap, and I don’t think that that kind of behavior is common at these events. Because it is for a cause, most people tend to donate more than you would if you were paying in a restaurant. There are fundraising car washes around here where the people don’t specify a price, just ask for a donation. They do this because if you tell people it costs $3, they’ll pay $3, but if you ask for a donation, they’ll give $5 or $10.

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Elizabeth April 2, 2014 at 10:29 am

A dear friend and like-family member would get my attendance, regardless of what is on the menu. And if spaghetti absolutely cannot be tolerated, then please send a donation and your regrets.

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Rap April 2, 2014 at 10:57 am

I think Admin is being a bit harsh with the OP in that, unless I am reading the letter incorrectly, the OP and her sister are still planning to attend the party, and just have concerns about how it was set up. I’m not sure what the etiquette concern here was, but I can definitely see red flags on how “Abby” was organizing the event.

What is the difference between this and a sales party? She’s inviting friends and family for a dinner party and instead of selling Princess crystal, she’s selling a charity. You can’t tell me that there isn’t a pressure to donate to her pet cause. I think her heart is in the right place but if she is inviting folks to her home for hospitality that she normally wouldn’t invite, just so she can get donations from them, that *is* imposing her charity on them… isn’t that pretty similar to a sales party?

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Politrix April 2, 2014 at 3:59 pm

^This

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JO April 2, 2014 at 5:12 pm

The difference is that a sales party is for the personal profit of the host and salesperson. A spaghetti dinner is for charity and helping people. And in both cases, if you don’t approve, all that needs to be said is a simple “no, thank you.”

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Rap April 2, 2014 at 10:55 pm

But if it is inviting people you normally wouldn’t offer hospitality to, merely to get them to chuck some dollars at your pet charity…. you’re still using your friends for your own agenda.

For me, the red flag I have on this is that it sounds a bit loosey goosey on Abby’s part, which is why she’s not getting many takers. I’ve seen enough fake charity reports that I can understand why people who aren’t close enough to Abby to normally rate an invite to dinner would be leery of a charity event staged in her home.

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JO April 3, 2014 at 6:40 pm

But, the OP describes Abby as a good friend (someone who would normally extend hospitality to OP), and that the invitation WAS only extended to her friends and neighbors (people she is close too). OP states that she thinks she should have invited strangers instead of friends.

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Rap April 4, 2014 at 8:45 am

And if I understand the letter correctly, the OP and sister are the only people invited who are attending and are being called out publically for NOT supporting Abby in doing so.

I will grant you, I am making an assumption here, but I think the OP finds the idea of inviting just friends to Abby’s home where Abby presses them for donations a little high pressure.

Kathryn April 2, 2014 at 8:22 pm

The difference is twofold.
1. Abbie is not benefiting from this. Every single sales party I’ve been to has benefited the host once guests spend over certain thresholds. Abbie donating her time and money to make spaghetti for her friends for a cause. Each friend can donate a much or little as they want.
2. The money is charitable, not self serving. And she’s quite upfront about this. And again, she’s not getting any benefit in hosting this, except feels of good will.

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Rap April 3, 2014 at 9:18 am

Now I will admit to being pedantic but Abby is benefitting from this in that she gets the pleasure in saying “I raised x amount of dollars for charity y!”

As for donating as little or as much, based on at least one later post on this topic, people do indeed note and judge accordingly how much someone puts in the collection basket versus how much they spend on themselves.

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Politrix April 3, 2014 at 10:08 am

I completely agree — and to be honest, I’m a little baffled as to why everybody’s being so rough on the OP and giving Abby a free pass, when just a few months ago a similar story was presented, with the sympathy resting squarely with the person who, again, was “invited” to a dinner to raise money for a charity which he didn’t particularly support.
Folks, the OP is not only willing to come to Abby’s dinner to support her in her fundraising efforts, she and her sister are also willing to donate their services in support of this charity, and the OP was nice enough to gently suggest ways in which Abby’s efforts might be more successful. I’m failing to see how this earns her a ticket to e-Hell.
I, too, would be a little put off if someone in my social circle invited me to her house for dinner — for the sole purpose of getting money out of me. Especially if all I get is a plate of spaghetti, while my “host” gets all the accolades for her generosity.

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:) April 4, 2014 at 3:06 am

Because the O.P has admitted abby has been a great friend. Abby has probably gone to shitty bday parties (the op mentions having a family) hockey games and so on.

Now because she is DESERVING of the accolades of generosity her ‘friend’ is finding it hard to support her.

This isn’t a bait and switch. Abbys friends know that IF they go (which they can say no too) it is a fundraising event. Abby has probably spent more that five bucks on presents/school fundraising/fun runs etc for the OPs kids than what she is asking for and the OPs family get a meal out of it.

The OP sounds like she is criticising the event like if it was grander or made her feel more important the O.P would attend. However just because it is a ‘good friend’ doing something possibly because she feels helpless about a condition a loved one has and that’s all she can think to do, the O.P makes her sound like a gimme pig.

If O.P. doesn’t want to go, she shouldn’t go, but if I was Abby, I would suddenly get a really full schedule and be unable to attend or contribute to the causes the O.P. or their family are so passionate about.

Politrix April 4, 2014 at 10:08 am

Wow, that’s a lot of interesting assumptions you’re making about Abby and her relationship to OP and OP’s family. All I got was that Abby was a “dear friend,” who’s done “many wonderful things for [OP’s] family.” Must’ve missed the part where she lavished expensive gifts on the OP’s kids (OP has kids? Who knew?) went to hockey games, “sh!tty” parties, etc.
“if I was Abby, I would suddenly get a really full schedule and be unable to attend or contribute to the causes the O.P. or their family are so passionate about.”
And therein lies the whole issue. OP expressed reservations about attending a fundraising dinner that she doesn’t feel entirely comfortable with, although both she and her sister have gamely offered to help her out with this fundraiser in any capacity that Abby requires. She’s not throwing her friend under the bus, she’s wondering if it’s a breach of etiquette to say “no” in this particular situation, to a friend who has, in the past, willingly said “yes” to the OP.
THAT, folks, is why the OP submitted this story to an etiquette website.
To answer the OP, I say, No, it’s technically not a breach of etiquette if you were to politely decline Abby’s invitation because you’re not comfortable with the way this charity dinner is being presented (and I can completely understand her discomfort for the reasons I stated above) — but on the other hand, you and your sister are showing yourselves to be true friends to Abby by donating your time, money and services to a sweet but misguided attempt at fundraising.

Miss-E April 4, 2014 at 2:35 pm

I think it’s taking it a little far to imply that a person who organizes a fund-raising event is on the same plane as someone who does one of those awful candle parties simply because they MAY brag on how much money they’ve raised for their charity. It’s not a kind assumption to make and it kind of casts a shadow on all the people who donate their time and effort and people skills to put together events to support charity.

I believe the show Friends tackled this notion…their solution was that you can only donate to a charity you hate, denying yourself the satisfaction and losing any chance of personal gain. Thus it is an entirely selfless act.

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Rap April 4, 2014 at 3:36 pm

Well, for me, it’s more that the OP is being castigated for daring to do anything other than be 100 percent support of the event while Abby, because its for charity, gets to invite people to her home and obligate them to make donations and anyone who doesn find it lovely is a horrid person who just likes being selfish.

If it wasn’t for charity, this would be identical to a sales party – Abby inviting people to her home for hospitality that she normally wouldn’t provide for the purpose of inducing her friends to hand over some dough. The OP is even attending despite having concerns… something apparently every other friend is not doing. Frankly, depending on how well the other friends know Abby – and we don’t know how close these people invited are, its as likely that they are close friends as it is that they are not people Abby normally invites over – some of the no’s being generated might be because of the same pique and annoyance people feel when invited to sales parties – namely “I’m good enough to invite over for sphaghetti when she wants someting but otherwise….”

I assumed that was what the OP was driving at. I’ve seen all kind of *unkind* assumptions made about the OP in this posting which surprises me when we live in a world where people do unscrupulous things in the name of grass roots charity all the time. “Come over to my house for dinner and give me money for it that I will give the charity of my choice” isn’t as assuring as you might think.

JO April 2, 2014 at 10:58 am

You say would have bought a hoagie, or some candy bars, but are against buying some spaghetti? Or you would have gone if she had gotten a venue, but don’t feel comfortable in the home of a “good friend?” I’m afraid I can’t quite follow your feelings on this. If you would have been willing to buy something, and she hasn’t set a price, why not just decline the dinner, send a donation, and let her help her FIL’s foundation? No wonder the dear woman is thinking of cancelling the dinner, with this kind of support from her “friends.”

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Denise April 2, 2014 at 11:01 am

I am often in the position of “Abby” in this story.

After our son died, we started fundraising for the March of Dimes. We walk in their annual March for Babies campaign and we work hard to raise a lot of money every year. We do this with a year event, a spaghetti dinner, taco night, crab feed, carnival, things of that nature. It’s a passion of mine and I’m blessed to have supportive friends and family who support and encourage our giving back to the community in our son’s name.

I make sure to never guilt, annoy or make people feel forced to attend. We make sure it’s a fun night, with a ton of food and because of this it has grown each year.

There are a few “close” friends who have no problem saying how close of friends they are when they need something, want something, or express being offended when I pass on yet another box of girl scout cookies, who never participate or acknowledge. I’ve learned that they are not really friends, they are moochers who would rather always be on the receiving end. They’ve helped me get better at saying “no” to their requests. ;)

Your friend is asking for one night with you. To do something positive for others because of her father-in-law. It sounds like she is trying to find a way to feel useful at a time so many feel useless. She’s donating her space, her time, the food and will not benefit from a single dollar of it. I’m sure she expected to have the support and understanding of her friends. I’m sure she thought her friends would want to be there to have a good night of fun with her in the name of a good cause. Obviously, she thought more of her friends’ character than was actually true.

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JO April 2, 2014 at 5:18 pm

Denise, first let me say I’m so sorry for your loss. Second, as mother to an ‘angel baby’ and to a (now) healthy preemie, I’d like to thank you for your efforts. March of Dimes is a wonderful cause, and I’m so glad people like you are willing and able to turn their loss into a passion for helping others avoid the same pain. Keep up the good work.

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AthenaC April 2, 2014 at 11:06 am

I’m having a hard time seeing what the supposed issue is with Abby’s event. One of the not-for-profits I work with regularly receives donations from events just like this. Home-cooked food, held at their house, etc. Of course, these events tend to be held by and geared toward some of the more financially fortunate members of society, but aside from that there’s really no difference.

I think it was a charming idea.

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:) April 4, 2014 at 3:10 am

thats what I thought!

So many people don’t go to these things because it is ‘too corporate’ or ‘where does the money go’. Now these people have excuses not to attend as it is ‘too small’, ‘not grand enough’.

If people don’t want to contribute to this charity just say so, don’t dress it up . It is like that person that insists they will TOTALLY go out with someone if they only changed their hair/clothes/laugh etc. They are only convincing themselves.

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AS April 2, 2014 at 11:10 am

I am a bit confused. On one hand is Abby, who is willing to donate her own money and time to hold a charity event at her house, and just hope her friends would donate something to the charity. On the other hand, OP thinks that Abby should pin businesses to donate for the charity in the form of space, food, and all the trimmings, an then invite the whole town as a charity that “Abby hosted” (and maybe even get tax credit for it?). Or that Abby should just sell hoagies, and not extend her hospitality to her friends. If you are willing to buy food from her, why would you not want to spend an evening having fun with close friends? Why should personal touches for a charity event be bad?

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Daria April 2, 2014 at 11:12 am

I disagree.

Most people are racing around with many obligations and limited time. I can’t remember, between my two jobs, antique-mall booth, volunteer work, total care of house & yard plus total care of family cottage house & yard, etc. etc. when I last had a free evening for socializing. If I did, I certainly wouldn’t want to spend it on this “charity event” though I would gladly donate money on the basis of the friendship even if it’s not really good bang for the buck.

Abby’s heart is in the right place but the truth is there are professional fundraising staff at all of these disease-related organizations that can raise money more efficiently than grass-roots efforts can. If Abby wants to do something, she should think of an idea that actually alleviates the burden on her friends and family instead of an event that places more burdens on them in addition to the request for money. A plant sale that would save me a trip to the nursery for geraniums, a bird-seed wreath, a home-delivered meal (for those who eat others’ cooking; I don’t), a car wash, etc. You can’t expect busy people to sit around and while away an evening on command, though.

An invitation is not a summons and friends do not put friends on the spot to pony up cash and time for their own pet causes.

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Vrinda April 2, 2014 at 4:23 pm

Then guess what? If you got an invitation to such an event, which had an RSVP as the OP mentions, you check off “no,” mail it to the sender, and go on with your busy life, volunteering, gardening, etc.

The people Abby invited had a choice not to come. The invitations were not summonses. As the OP said, an entire family could come and only donate $5, as cheap as it sounds.

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Miss-E April 3, 2014 at 5:13 am

Hosting a charitable event is not rude. Nowhere in this story does it say that Abby called up and yelled at the people who declined the invitation or badgered them to no end. She isn’t doing anything wrong herself. She can invite, her guests can decline, none of this is breaking any rules. Personally, I like the idea of doing something social over buying some trinket I don’t want or need out of obligation.

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Elizabeth April 3, 2014 at 9:41 am

Say ‘no thank you’ then. No need to feel summonsed. Geesh.

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AthenaC April 3, 2014 at 10:06 am

“the truth is there are professional fundraising staff at all of these disease-related organizations that can raise money more efficiently than grass-roots efforts can”

Many organizations (disease-related or no) regularly receive significant donations from grass-roots efforts such as these, in addition to whatever events their professional fundraising staff plan.

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Library Diva April 3, 2014 at 11:40 am

Sorry to sound harsh, but you have chosen to have no time to socialize. You could move to a smaller home with a smaller yard. You could sell the cottage. You could hire a lawn service to alleviate even a portion of this burden. You could give up your stall at the antique mall, or cut back on the volunteering. It’s your life and you can live it however you want, but other people aren’t going to stop trying to get you to do things just because you’re busy. If it’s too much, say no. If you say no often enough, it will become clear that you view socializing and supporting your friends as a burden, and the invitations will dry up, anyway.

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Daria April 4, 2014 at 1:51 pm

Yes, I freely choose all of my responsibilities and obligations, no argument there. I do what I value — and I don’t have time to sit around all evening just so someone else can pat herself on the back for raising $50 or $60 for a charity that has a very large fundraising engine already. (And I happen to work with a medical research unit of a major hospital as one of my clients, so I know quite a bit about raising money to fund health science discovery.)

Say the dinner lasts two hours and 10 people attend; that’s 20 hours of precious leisure time down the drain to earn $50 for the charity. Just not worth it; I’d decline. And I personally would never try to drum up money for any cause by prevailing on social friends.

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Merrilee April 2, 2014 at 11:14 am

I guess I don’t understand why, if she didn’t want to go to the dinner/thought it was a bad idea, she didn’t tell her friend that the dinner was not her cup of tea, but she’d be glad to make a donation in FIL’s name directly to the charity..

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Library Diva April 2, 2014 at 11:15 am

Not knowing the best way to do something doesn’t make one rude, nor does being determined to do things one’s own way despite all of the suggestions made by others. I’m not sure why OP perceived this as an etiquette issue.

It’s possible that Abby wanted to start small with this sort of thing. Perhaps she doesn’t feel comfortable designing flyers, writing press releases, and approaching local companies for donations. Maybe she just wanted to do something little at her home with her friends and family to see how it goes first. I also fail to see how a dinner is so much more of an imposition than selling hoagies or candy bars (do adults actually do that, other than on behalf of their kids?) Then you’re stuck with a gross candy bar or hoagy that you may or may not want. At least this way, you get to have dinner with family and friends.

It is also possible that the foundation encouraged this. In my area, Literacy Volunteers holds a region-wide Scrabble fundraiser. People hold Scrabble parties at their home for their friends (or businesses that serve food can host one for the public). They register their party with the organization, charge admission and turn over the proceeds of their evening. Each party gets to send a winner to the regional tournament, and an area-wide winner is crowned after a weekend of finals. I’m not set up for this, but always thought it sounded like fun and hope to host one myself when I’m in more of a position to do so.

I agree that it’s a shame that OP couldn’t find it in her heart to support Abby, despite Abby not doing everything perfectly on her first try. Relationships with other humans often obligate you to do things you really don’t want to. All of those people at the Toddler Ballet recital are not there due to their love of dance. No one attends a middle school soccer game because it’s so exciting. All of those folks eating rubber chicken at the annual Lions awards banquet are not there because it’s their idea of a good time. People come to these things to be supportive. OP should view Abby’s spaghetti dinner in a similar light. It’s a couple of hours out of her life to support someone she loves.

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Rebecca April 2, 2014 at 11:23 am

I’m inclined to agree with admin. Abby hasn’t obligated or imposed on anyone; anyone is free to decline. And if she has supported the OP in the past (through doing things for the family, or just being a good friend) then it should be no big deal to attend a dinner she is hosting; as for the donation, well just put in what you can afford; you’d have to buy something for dinner that night anyway. I also don’t know why the OP would be happy to buy a hoagie or a candy bar but not a dinner enjoyed with friends.

I have friends who host similar fundraising nights, and nobody feels imposed upon; they come, or they don’t come, and those that do have a great time and mentally give the host a pat on the back for being proactive for a good cause.

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Miss-E April 2, 2014 at 11:24 am

I find the OPs alternatives puzzling. Selling hoagies or candy? Sounds like Abby wanted to host an event, maybe eventually making it an annual tradition where people come and party and eat and raise money for this charity. There is no etiquette issues with hosting a charity event, right? As long as you go about it the right way and aren’t running a shake-down on everyone you know. In her plan, everyone would come to her for hot, fresh food. If she sold hoagies…she would, what, deliver them? Go door-to-door? Neither of those sound like better fundraising options.

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Cora April 3, 2014 at 4:58 pm

Yeah, that threw me too. How is a hoagie (purely personal opinion: YUCK) or candy bars — which you have to use some of the donated money to pay for — somehow better than a freshly-cooked hot meal in someone’s home?

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Rap April 3, 2014 at 6:04 pm

To be honest, I’d take a hoagie every time. I know how to be polite and choke down spaghetti when it is what an unwitting host puts in front of me but I can’t stand the stuff. Whereas a nice sub sandwich mmmmm!

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HollyAnn April 2, 2014 at 11:28 am

OP, it seems like you don’t really have an etiquette complaint here – you just want to criticize Abby. So she was running an event in a rather amateurish way. At least she was trying to do something charitable from which she would not personally benefit. It seems like you’re just taking pleasure in her plans failing. When is the last time you tried to do something solely to benefit others? Instead of all your criticism, why don’t you offer to help Abby plan another event that might work out better?

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EllenS April 2, 2014 at 11:44 am

A rare point of disagreement with Admin for me, based on interpretation. I got the impression LW fully intended to go to the dinner and donate,but that she well understood why others were reluctant. She also mentioned that her sister had donated services for the auction. I also did not take it that she directed “negative feedback” to Abby, other than suggesting a sale of goods might bring in more funds.

I don’t think Abby did anything rude here, since there was no misrepresentation and no personal gain (quite the opposite). It is a shame to see a good friend try so hard and be disappointed, especially when the reason for the failure seems pretty obvious. However, hopefully Abby will, as Admin states, learn by experience and continue on to successful action for her special cause.

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Catrunning April 2, 2014 at 11:51 am

I don’t see what the OP’s problem is. At least Abby is offering a nice pasta dinner in return for the OP’s donations, and if you are her friend, you attend and donate to support her friendship.

Actually, Abby’s type of fundraising is a pleasant surprise to me. Most of the fundraising I’ve seen lately is…”donate $xxx so that I can get free coaching and free travel to the Maui Marathon”, or donate $$xxxx “so that I can hike the Grand Canyon for free”. While I am sure the charities involved are worthwhile, the largest chunk of donations apparently goes to sponsor the individual fundraiser’s athletic training and travel/lodging at his/her event of choice, not the charity itself. This type of fundraising, where the participant is the primary beneficiary leaves me cold, and I have stopped contributing to those. But I’d attend Abby’s dinner without any hesitation!

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Kate April 4, 2014 at 5:08 am

I completely agree. It’s nice to see ‘selfless’ fundraising as opposed to “I want to do something and I can’t afford it so you should give me money”.

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Acadianna April 2, 2014 at 12:11 pm

Abby offered a nice meal with an evening of socializing, all in return for a voluntary donation of unspecified amount. Sounds like a bargain to me, and I’d have looked forward to it.

I don’t see any etiquette violations in what she did. In fact, I think it’s a much nicer way of fundraising than a lot of methods I’ve seen.

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KA April 2, 2014 at 12:18 pm

I feel badly for Abby. She might not be hosting the perfect event, but she is trying to do something kindhearted and helpful, and from where I sit, it seems like she is being snubbed. Instead of viewing it as being forced to spend an “entire evening eating spaghetti,” look at it as a fun night with someone who is supposedly a dear friend, for which you happen to be donating to a worthy cause.

Of course, if OP doesn’t want to donate any funds to this cause, that is within her rights – but she needs to differentiate between not being interested in the charity and being overly critical of her “dear friend.”

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Elizabeth April 3, 2014 at 9:45 am

Much aggreed.

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Margaret April 2, 2014 at 12:28 pm

I don’t understand what exactly bothers the letter writer. You would support the charity if she were selling candy bars, but not if she is selling a homemade dinner? Is she a terrible cook? Is she not as dear a friend as you pretend and you do not want to be obliged to spend time, which you wouldn’t have to do if she just hit you up for a quick sale and left? You can’t really be annoyed that she is not making this as elaborate a fundraiser as YOU think it should be, are you? That’s insane. Did you offer to help solicit venues who would donate food and space (MUCH harder to do than you apparently think, since they are not only out the cost of the food they donate but the revenue they forgo during the event as well)? Were you going to foot the bill for the advertising? What exactly did you offer to do to help with the elaborate fundraising scheme you think she should be following. Oh wait, sounds like you didn’t offer to help. Fair enough, it’s not your charity or your cause. But as a long time volunteer, I personally don’t think much of the people who always have a complaint or a criticism or a suggestion for how we can improve things but who are NEVER the ones putting in the time or effort themselves.

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:) April 4, 2014 at 2:51 am

I loved your answer!

They are EXACTLY the type of people who come over to your home and say ‘Oh the chicken is nice…but I PREFER mine with less herbs.’

An ex of mine used to do this all the time. Drove me to distraction. When told that is rude they say’ But I wasn’t saying I didn’t like it, I was saying how I PREFER it, it isn’t an insult.’

I mean what is the cook/hostess supposed to do, start apologising and throwing the plates in the bin whilst chanting ‘next time less herbs?’. People like this are infuritating. Those of us who know the effort involved in something rarely complain (unless it is woefully subpar and ridiculous like chicken not being cooked properly) but you can always tell those who have never had to plan a menu/function/dinner/anything, as they are the first with little barbs how it could’ve been slightly better.

We had a chick do this at my sister in laws funeral function. My family all made the food, took us hours and so forth and this lady who had done nothing went up to everyone with a glow of saintliness telling them how my families food was awful and her cupcakes were AMAZING and how if they had had them, my word their lives would have been changed forever. People were telling her what a great person she was for her kind thoughts and how generous she was and so on. My sister eventually went up to her and said ‘i’ve been hearing so much about your delicious cakes, what table are they on?’ the woman said she hadn’t made them but felt she had honoured my SIL by INTENDING to make them. My sister said ‘so, you are comparing our food poorly to the invisible cupcakes you brought? Uh huh. Well let’s think about your good intentions would have fed everyone today.’

She was probably rude but that woman deserved it.

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Kat April 2, 2014 at 12:33 pm

I love Admin’s idea of viewing this dinner as a trial run. It sounds like OP has a lot of really great ideas for how Abby (whose heart is kind but whose idea isn’t really gaining traction) can reach more people and make more of an impact. Would it be rude or overstepping for OP to email Abby and say: “Hey, I’m sorry to hear people haven’t been responding to your charity dinner. Want to grab coffee and talk about what obstacles there are for this event, and brainstorm a little about how to make it even better?”

Genuine question. No one wants to overstep or try to monopolize someone else’s event or criticize it, but Abby might genuinely appreciate some proactive feedback and support.

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Adrian April 2, 2014 at 12:43 pm

I don’t think the OP and her sister are doing anything wrong- after all, they are willing to attend the dinner regardless of their feelings about it. There are plenty of times where doing something nice for someone else is inconvenient, and we don’t feel like doing it, and I think the OP is expressing those feelings. BUT she is going to attend the dinner anyway. The issue here is that the OP rightly guessed that no one else was going to attend a spaghetti dinner, and was trying to guide Abby towards an event that would bring more people.
I don’t get the feeling that the OP has expressed to her friend Abby that she does not want to attend the dinner- if she had, then yes, there would be an etiquette breach. Keeping reluctance hidden and going anyway to support her friend is exactly what one should do in this situation, isn’t it?

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Miss-E April 2, 2014 at 4:28 pm

I think Admin’s calling her out for the fact that the OP is submitting this story, trying to paint Abby in a negative light when Abby isn’t really breaking any etiquette rules (remember, this is an etiquette blog, not a complain-about-your-friends-blog). Calling her well-meaning friend out on the internet kind of makes OP the bad guy here.

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Rosie April 2, 2014 at 1:01 pm

I agree that it can be awkward when a close friend wants to raise money for a charitable event that might not be your first priority, or may even have misgivings about. But I often choose to contribute to show support for my friend, not necessarily the organization they are representing. I was in a similar situation as the OP: close friends of our family have started a small charity to benefit the children in the husband’s village in a third world country. The money they raise pays for school fees and supplies. They held a silent auction last fall and worked really hard to find a venue, secure donations, and invite friends. I had some doubts about their work, since it’s not a registered nonprofit and all the money goes to the a village where their family lives, not necessarily to those kids in other villages that may be more “worthy” of a scholarship. But, I decided it was more important to support my friend that to voice concerns about the way the charity is structured and the particulars of the event. In the end, they are directly helping kids attend school that would not otherwise be able to go, and that’s a lot more than I’m doing! In the case of the OP, I think it’s nice that she agreed to attend the spaghetti dinner to show support for her friend, but now she’s in a bit of a tight spot since the event isn’t coming together. I can imagine Abby might ask her, “why isn’t anyone coming??” which is a hard question to answer without hurting her feelings. I think Admin was a bit harsh since the OP did in fact agree to attend the dinner, but now OP has to seriously consider what else she might be willing to do to support her friend.

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DGS April 2, 2014 at 1:06 pm

With Admin on this one; Abby’s spaghetti dinner doesn’t sound stupid – it sounds lovely. I’m sure massive foundations did not start with galas – they started with a small event at someone’s house, and then, they grew. The auction sounds really neat as well.

A few nit-picky comments (forgive a curmudgeon):
1) How much space do you need to eat spaghetti? Presumably, if Abby has a small house and a fairly small gathering, one could have a big tinfoil pan full of strained al dente pasta drizzled with olive oil, a big pot on a very low heat filled spaghetti sauce and various toppings (shredded Parmesan, etc.) and a big bowl of salad with tongs on the kitchen counter and stove area with stacks of plates, bowls, utensils and napkins nearby. Then, folks could carry their food to the dining-area and eat on the table or on their laps (which would be a tad trickier, but still doable). (And now, I’m hungry).

2) Why is it okay to buy candy bars, hoagies, etc. to support a cause but not okay to attend a benefit, however small? Wouldn’t it feel more personal to actually attend an event rather than buy a useless trinket or a random food item?

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Anonymous April 2, 2014 at 1:07 pm

Actually, I agree with the OP. It’s possible that Abby needed an outside perspective on this, and it sounds as if the OP only wants to support Abby, and help her come up with the best plan possible, so that she can raise as much money and awareness for Multiple Sclerosis as possible. A lot of people on E-Hell think that inviting friends to “fundraising” parties is rude, or at least not likely to be successful, and so, if Abby had found an outside venue, and found an outside organization to donate the food, then it could be a public event, with minimal overhead, and be much more successful than an Abby-run, Abby-financed, private fundraising dinner at Abby’s house. Also, I don’t really understand why people have spaghetti dinners as fundraisers–spaghetti is stupidly easy to make, and it’s hardly a “special event” kind of food.

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Rap April 2, 2014 at 11:02 pm

They make spaghetti because its cheap, easy to make, difficult to screw up and all in one pot, so clean up is easier. That way, when you’re running a spaghetti dinner to raise money for something, you’re pretty much guaranteed some profit. Not that I helped out at many a spaghetti dinner fundraiser at the volunteer fire house.

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Anonymous April 3, 2014 at 10:28 am

Okay, good point. Well, if I was friends with Abby, and she’d invited me to her “private home” spaghetti dinner, then I’d probably ask her if she needed help planning and cooking (I make a pretty good vegan spaghetti sauce), and in the course of helping, I’d say something about possibly expanding operations, and advertising more broadly, so that more people could participate, AND it wouldn’t be so much “inviting friends to a private home fundraiser,” but rather, “inviting EVERYONE to a community fundraiser,” which would be both more polite, AND more effective. But, if this was combined with offering practical assistance, it wouldn’t come from a place of “you’re doing it wrong,” but rather, “let’s make this even better.”

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clairedelune April 2, 2014 at 1:09 pm

I’m with the Admin, and I’m confused about how the OP’s proposal would be considered “the right” way to go about this while Abby’s was “all wrong.” All OP is suggesting is that Abby (a) not invest any of her own money in the event; and (b) find a bigger/more commercial venue. The relative propriety of an event is very rarely determined by the size of the venue. Surely OP has heard of people using or donating their homes for fundraising events?

It’s poor etiquette to treat what should be a social event (e.g., a wedding) as if it were a fundraiser. But it’s not poor etiquette to HAVE charitable fundraisers, period.

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Dee April 2, 2014 at 1:14 pm

I think this goes to the issue of what constitutes an invitation – which this is not – and a fundraising event. Perhaps the friends were uncomfortable about the conflict between being a favoured guest and being expected to open up their wallets, and decided they would be so uncomfortable with that conflict they would much prefer to stay home and even make a donation from there. I don’t believe the friends are rejecting Abby, just the awkwardness of the event. Maybe they should be more generous and just go and grit their teeth, but really, would that make the hostess feel better than a cancelled dinner? I am assuming that Abby isn’t clueless and would figure out the reason for the lack of enthusiasm one way or another. I know I would really hesitate to go as I would always question, from that point on, whether Abby wanted my company because of what she could gain from it or whether she just liked me for me. It would taint the relationship. Invitations with strings attached makes people very uncomfortable, for good reasons.

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Lenore April 2, 2014 at 3:05 pm

Wow, OP, admin pretty much said it all – you’re supposedly so close with her, but you’re disparaging everything she’s doing? What’s so wrong with a spaghetti dinner with a silent auction to raise money? I really hope you see this and realise that you have managed to make yourself look terribly uncaring and shallow :(

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kingsrings April 2, 2014 at 3:25 pm

I agree with EHell Dame. Where is the problem here? It doesn’t seem to me like she’s doing anything rude at all. Just because you, OP, would do it a bit differently Abby is all wrong? She’s simply holding a fundraiser and isn’t imho making any kind of etiquette blunders regarding it.

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Kate April 2, 2014 at 3:36 pm

OP, I hope you are otherwise generally a good friend to Abby. You clearly think she’s a good person, and she’s giving something a shot. She’s not quitting her job to be a rock star, she’s trying to raise money for a charity with spaghetti. If it fails, it fails — and if that is the case, she could use the support of a good friend.

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AnaMaria April 2, 2014 at 3:42 pm

I’ve heard it said, “Funny how small a five-dollar bill seems at the mall, versus how large it seems when the offering plate is passed.”

I have done lots of work with charity over the years and I am baffled by the responses some people get- angry messages from people saying how dare we invite them to a fundraising event and try to guilt money out of them (just check “not attending” on your RSVP, for Pete’s sake!), or the classic facebook message “We really support your cause but money is just too tight to donate right now,” followed by a status update saying what a great appetizer, dinner, dessert, and bottle of wine they just had at a five star restaurant.

Charity is just that: charity. If you support a cause, donate some time or money to it (and, if you happen to get a free dinner in return, be thankful!). If you don’t or can’t, just politely RSVP “not attending” without any false excuses.

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:) April 4, 2014 at 2:59 am

I am not one to care about what people are spending and if a person can’t donate for whatever reason (even if it is buying a solid gold pimp cup) I don’t judge them.

What I do abhor are the share messages on facebook. Awareness of breast cancer and the status saying ‘I lost my ** to breast cancer plz share n donate :) If u dont share you dont care’ and they have a saintly glow when they have not donated or done anything constructive.

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JeanLouiseFinch April 2, 2014 at 3:51 pm

Send me her name. I would volunteer to make/supply the salad or better yet, I’ll make the bread. I’ll be glad to go for spaghetti or for nothing at all and I will donate. My daughter was recently told that she might have MS (it is really difficult to diagnose), so I would be willing to help with fund raising. Anyone raising money for MS is automatically a good friend of mine. Maybe she should stuff flyers in her neighbors’ mailboxes for a separate party for them. The only thing she seems to need is a way to generate a receipt for tax purposes.

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just4kicks April 3, 2014 at 11:38 am

Agreed! MS is very difficult to diagnose. My Dad went through the wringer while his team of doctors tried to find the problem. He was told he had ALS, no, that’s not it. A brain tumor? Nope, not that either….Parkinson’s? No. While we were all devastated when we found out it was MS, it was also a relief in a small way that he could now put a plan together and move forward with appropriate meds and therapy.

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GrizzMagoo April 2, 2014 at 4:00 pm

Personally, I would rather have a nice spaghetti dinner with friends than a warm, gross, saran-wrapped, soggy-breaded, slapped-together sandwich (hoagie)….Maybe it wasn’t just the charity auction. Is it possible that she and her husband are caring for FIL and feel the need to be sociable? And who better than to invite to your fundraiser than friends who are (supposed to be) supportive and caring….And come on! It’s five measly dollars!! Most decent sandwiches cost more than that anyway!!

Perhaps she wasn’t trying to fund the foundation indefinitely, only trying to have some control over a uncontrollable disease that is clearly affecting her family. It probably makes her feel good to be able to help her FIL in whatever way she can, and that is all that matters in this situation. If people don’t want to come they can RSVP that they can’t make it – case closed.

I heart your words of wisdom Jeanne… Please keep it coming.

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Lindy April 2, 2014 at 6:12 pm

I’m not sure why everyone is being so negative about the OP. Where does it say she isn’t supporting her friend? She clearly states that her family are the only takers for this fundraiser, and her sister has donated a haircut that they will have to be the only bidders on in the auction unless some other people can be persuaded to attend which isn’t looking likely at the moment. I don’t get the impression that she has been negative about this to her friend, just that she is frustrated that she can see this fundraiser isn’t going to work in the form it is in.

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AnaLuisa April 2, 2014 at 4:16 pm

I am fully with OP here.

First, where I come from, we are not used to this kind of charities. If we donate, we either do it privately or an event is hosted by an institution, not a private person, and the invitations are not personal.

I would consider the way Abby addressed her friends a well-intentioned and mild, but still sort of an emotional blackmail. Does it mean that you should feel ashamed if you refuse something to a dear friend who has done many good things for you in the past? If this friend asks you to spend an evening doing something you do not feel attracted to, and pay money for a cause you would probably not choose to support by yourself, you should either suck it up, go and feel uncomfortable, or feel ashamed that you refused her? By addressing you directly and assuming you would definitely want to come and donate, she is putting you in a quite awkward position. And I think this is not exactly what friends should do to friends.

I would be much more willing to help if she asked me to do something for her directly – help her paint her house, clean her garden, do her shopping for her, even lend/give her money if Icould afford it and she was in trouble – in short, something which would be directly defined as help and would not pretend to be a “fun event”. If I wanted really to oblige, I’d be rather willing to donate the money to the charity of her choice directly, without her having to make all the fuss about the dinner.

It’s perhaps the cultural differences, but I hate the idea of begging money from family and friends for charities, because they could feel cornered and would perhaps give only out of fear of hurting my feelings, or even worse, because they would feel guilty if they just say no. And this is not a position I would like to get my dear ones in.

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AnaLuisa April 2, 2014 at 4:21 pm

Ana Maria,

and would you bear a clear response “I do not want to donate”?

Because for a charity to be really a charity, nobody should be guilted into it.

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NostalgicGal April 2, 2014 at 6:25 pm

We have a lot of this sort of stuff here, both for various diseases; someone’s place burned down; someone had major illness and needs help with stuff; then there’s church groups, kid organizations, clubs, and more.

1) There are a lot of churches, even the school lunchroom, or one of the fair ground buildings (yes we are county seat and have fairground facilities) that are available to members, to the good cause, or for a reasonable rental fee, to hold a major feed. If it’s come to donate to a cause, come eat pancakes/spaghetti/tacos/burgers/etc; there is a set amount a plate as ‘donation’. That way stuff gets covered, and the ‘profit’ goes to the cause.

2) If it’s not a major feed then they sell food to preorder. You buy the dozen burritos or whatever for so much; or the candy, cookies, nuts, whatever; and it’s delivered on X date or can be picked up then.

3) Sometimes they have a ‘run/walk’ (5 or 10k or mile or whatever) for said cause; and that case participants often get sponsors for the distance they do cover, etc. Money raised goes to said cause.

4) Motorcycle ‘poker’ runs, you pay to enter and the winner or winners gets a small amount of the pot or some other stuff donated. Most of the pot goes to the cause.

5) Raffles. Quilts or a shotgun or something else donated. Money from the tickets goes to the cause.

6) Hold a kid’s event and get sponsors (people or companies) to put up $ to the cause to pay for the event and whatever’s left over (1/2-3/4 the amount raised) goes to the cause.

7) Golf tourney (we have a full golf course, most of it’s ‘brown’ though and out of bounds might have rattlesnakes, play at your own risk) where foursomes pay an entry fee; there are some prizes (usually donations) and the money raised goes to the cause. They warn try to have the foursome reasonably matched and they try to send the better ones first so the true duffers (raises my putter in shame) can do the course last and not hold it up…

8) The ‘Grocery Grab’. Local scout troop sells tickets, pretty steep per ticket, then they draw a winner. 5 min to load a grocery cart with what you can grab, the scout troop pays for what’s in the basket; and the remainder raised goes to the troop. They usually take in a few times what they have to pay. Done near a holiday.

I would say that Abby has heart in right place but needs to change some parameters to make it happen. OP, you’re the one that needs the tuffet to sit on inside the door to e-hell out of the two. Help her MAKE it happen then.

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:) April 4, 2014 at 3:13 am

I won a quilt once from the guide dog society. It was one of the most amazing things EVER. Ps quilters that do contribute to this type of thing, your contributions are so worth it. My quilt to this day is treated lovingly because i think of all the care that went into it. :D

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Otterpop April 2, 2014 at 7:23 pm

Horror of horrors! She invited OP to a spaghetti dinner where she provided all the food and did all the preparation. All OP had to do was donate whatever she thought appropriate using the honor system. There might have even been a silent auction (which are kind of fun) with no mandatory participation. What exactly is OP complaining about? Nothing legitimate I think.

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Huh April 3, 2014 at 8:54 am

Silent auctions are fun and aren’t mandatory participation at big events. In your friend’s living room when your family are the only attendants is no longer fun and pretty much now mandatory. That’s where I would feel awkward in this story. Going over to friend’s house with my family (since OP said her family is so far the only ones going) to eat spaghetti and make a donation to a cause sounds fun. Now going into your friends’ living room to make “bids” on donations, some of which you provided? Say you’re prepared to bid $20 on one item. But you’re it, and there’s a whole table full of items…see what I mean?

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ermine April 2, 2014 at 8:28 pm

Hello? Abby’s father in law is DYING. Of a horrible, horrible disease. And OP is complaining about getting spaghetti instead of hoagies? Have some compassion, OP. Instead of criticizing Abby for the way she’s organizing her event and talking smack about her behind her back (and all over the interwebs), why can’t you just support her and enjoy some damn spaghetti? OP sounds like a terrible friend.

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Dee April 3, 2014 at 11:07 am

I have no idea how OP could be more supportive of her friend; she’s donating her time and money for a cause she may not be interested in, she is worried about her friend’s feelings about this doomed charity event and is wondering how to best deal with that, and she wonders how it could be done better so her friend is not in this awkward position next time. I would cherish a caring friend like OP. And now we’ve thrown in the mix that Abby’s FIL is DYING of a horrible disease?!? Where did that come from?!? I don’t think many of the commenters here actually read the OP’s submission, and that seems be the real shame in all this.

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Rap April 3, 2014 at 11:25 am

Well, technically if Abby’s FIL has MS, that is a terrible disease that he will eventually die from. But yeah, while I don’t see what etiquette breach OP is concerned about, I really don’t understand the hostility directed at the OP, who *is* attending the dinner, not spurning her friend

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Cat April 2, 2014 at 9:13 pm

If I have a good friend who has done wonderful things for me, I will give her five dollars, eat spaghetti at her house, or dance on her lawn under the full moon if she asks me to do it.
Good friends are hard to find. Mine put up with my memories which I insist on sharing, bad jokes, and those days when a saint would want to give me a good shaking. Friends do that for one another.

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ketchup April 3, 2014 at 9:52 am

I will dance with you!

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:) April 4, 2014 at 3:15 am

exactly. My bff loves this cafe. I do not care for this cafe. But if she wanted to go to the seven fires of hell, I would drive there.

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Kate April 2, 2014 at 10:09 pm

I am very confused as to why people think OP isn’t supporting her friend. She might not think her friend is going about this the right way, but she is obviously supporting her regardless. At least, obvious support is what I would call the OP and all her other family members who know Abby attending! Maybe there is a difference of opinion in the definition of supportive?

I have to agree with OP to a certain extent about the way a fundraiser for charity should be run. For one thing, some people are really, really bad cooks and think they are good cooks. For another thing, I don’t like to eat at anyone’s house unless I have seen their kitchen. What some people call hygiene makes me physically ill. I know of one person who lets her cats get on the kitchen counter while they are cooking, and another who thinks it is okay to use a used tissue to wipe a counter clean!

Maybe these are some of the reasons OP suggested getting businesses involved and offering something different than a spaghetti dinner.

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Brit April 3, 2014 at 4:20 am

She submitted the story to an etiquette site. Yeah, how supportive can you get?

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Rap April 3, 2014 at 7:44 am

Well, unlike Abby’s other friends, at least the OP is attending. What about the six couples who turned down two separate nights for a spaghetti dinner and the opportunity to donate next to nothing for it?

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Jess April 2, 2014 at 10:19 pm

From the sounds of it, it seems that OP’s biggest issue is that Abby didn’t follow her advice on how exactly a fundraiser should be conducted.
While it is grating to have a person disregard your advice, remember that Abby didn’t “pull” this advice – it was provided by OP, and it is unreasonable to assume that a person is obligated to always follow your personal advice, especially if they did not ask for it.
Maybe this is the reason why OP thinks this story is appropriate for submission?
“my rude friend won’t let me backseat drive her charity events and now I don’t want to go”

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Angeldrac April 3, 2014 at 12:30 am

Oh, yes – Abby totally went about this wrong! Here she was thinking she could just have a casual, well-intentioned fundraising event amongst good friends and family to raise money for her FIL’s condition. Didn’t she realise how selfish and awkward she was being???
(Ok, got the sarcasm out of my system, now)
I really don’t get people’s hang-ups about this kind of thing. Isn’t this what having good friends means, that you can afford to do casual well-meaning things like this once in a while? If she went on a larger scale with a bigger community, venue etc., she would have had to get also rfs of council approval (well, if it was in Australia, she would have) and it would have been far more complicated and time consuming.
I think this is a good thing she’s doing – if OP is so against it, just flick her $10 and say you can’t make it.

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AnaLuisa April 3, 2014 at 1:25 am

I think most contributors are utterly unjust to OP.

Remember, she and her sister were the ONLY ones NOT to decline Abby’s invitation, and seems to be concerned about Abby’s time and money being invested with a much weaker result than she had expected.

Why on God’s green Earth would they deserve a cauldron in E-hell? There were other invitees who turned the invitation down without batting an eyelid. And even those would NOT deserve any sort of hell.

There are several things which make me cringe.

The first one is that I find the idea of “personal” fundraising almost as tacky as a home-selling party, and even more laden with guilt (not everyone is assertive enough to be able to decline what might seem a favour to a relative/friend, and even more so if the money is going to a “clean” cause). I understand this can mostly be a cultural difference as many posters have said they consider it quite common. I’d say okay then, but as long as there is absolutely no social pressure for you to feel guilty if you decline (and to tell the truth, I feel this from quite a lot of posts here).

The second one is that I feel an unmistakable tinge of emotional blackmail (not necessarily on Abby’s part, but many posts reflected this) and even a hidden threat in thinking like “you are my friend, I’ve helped you a lot of times, so you are obliged to do what I want, even if you do not like it, because this is what a friend should do, and if you decline, I will reconsider helping you in the future”.

I understand where the point is, and that it is definitely bad only to take and not to give. But I would assume that if Abby is a good family friend for years, definitely the favours would have been mutual? I cannot imagine having a friend helping me for years and not doing anything for her in return. Would this be the first thing OP would do for Abby? Probably not. I disagree that friends would be obliged to do whatever the other friend comes up with unless they want to be labelled ungrateful, disloyal and the like. One thing I appreciate very much about our good friends is that we can be open to them enough to say “I am not willing to do this because I don’t feel like it/do not support this cause/whatever”. And I do not think this makes us bad friends at all as there are many other occasions when we do come and do help.

I just wanted to say that I would like to feel free to decline some activities of my friends I disapprove of, and still remain friends. For me, friendship is a balanced relation where I give and take over the years, and I therefore easily can afford to decline now and then without any negative consequences to our friendship because I have done many other favours for that person in the past and will do in the future.

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Rap April 3, 2014 at 8:02 am

I have to admit, even with my close friends, who indeed I do favors for and have favors done in return, this set up sounds awkward.

I also will admit, I have friends who I enjoy being with and would gladly help them with things, but I would also feel awkward to be at their home as part of a charity fundraising dinner, being solicited for a silent auction and cash donations.

I agree that the OP is being jumped for daring to not like the lovely spaghetti charity dinner at Abby’s apparently small home and don’t see that Abby is placing a lot of social pressure on her friends to donate to her charity. Yes yes, she is saying donate what you like for the dinner and in theory you can bring your entire family for a five buck donation…. but assuming folks are in the same social circles, don’t you think part of the awkwardness here is that everyone will know how cheap or generous you are in supporting Abby’s charity? And if you decline…. well, you’re just not a supportive friend -look at the comments directed at the OP, who isn’t even declining to attend. That’s even the admin’s position, OP is counting the cost of the favor and not supporting her friend.

That said

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Michele K. April 3, 2014 at 8:25 am

Ann did nothing rude. She is trying to hold a charity event at her home. If it is not the OP’s cup of tea, she had the right to politely decline the invitation. Yet, OP seems to think it is more productive to try to change Ann’s event into something that is more her “cup of tea” (selling hoagies or candy bars vs. having a spaghetti dinner). Or to suggest that Ann expand it into a larger event (getting businesses to donate product or venue).

Or to submit the story to E-hell for judgement. That is where I think the E-hell Dame was coming from. OP is so hades-bent on making Ann’s event into something it is not, OP comes across as not supporting a good friend.

Ann doesn’t seem the type to alter a friendship over a declined invitation. But, OP sounds like the type who may be, IMHO, a fair weather friend.

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Brit April 3, 2014 at 9:24 am

I agree with you. Lovely intentions, but for me, charity is giving your OWN money/time and that’s it. Not making other people give theirs.

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Sansa April 3, 2014 at 11:32 am

I agree, AnaLuisa. I enjoy reading the submissions and posts here but, sometimes, the advice seems to flip-flop. For one post it will be “friends shouldn’t shake you down for ‘donations’ and decide how I spend my money and time”. Then it’s “oh, OP’s not supporting her friend because she doesn’t want to go to this charity supper and she dares to mention other ideas, so she thinks friend is doing it wrong”. Maybe OP was thinking if Abbie changed it up a bit, offered something other than spaghetti, it might produce better results. When the first invite did not produce enough results, Abbie changed dates and it seems that even that has not helped improve attendance.

It’s pretty clear that while Abbie is trying to do something out of the goodness of her heart, it is not going too well and OP & family *is* supporting her by agreeing to come and donating an auction item. Can you imagine how bad Abbie might feel if only OP and family show up?

While I agree that if you feel passionately about a charity or have a loved one affected & want to help, you certainly do something that will benefit the charity. In this case, Abbie might spend more money than she brings in and that isn’t really helping. Maybe she should donate the money she would have spent on the spaghetti dinner ingredients to the charity and find a different way to help.

Also, I agree with the poster who said maybe Abbie is not as great a cook as she thinks. Spaghetti seems easy enough, but some people can muck that up. My sister, for example, used to put the noodles in before the water boiled so it ended up as a huge glob of half-cooked pasta and she burned the meatballs for the sauce. I don’t know why she didn’t read the directions on the pasta box or pay attention when she cooked the meatballs. She wondered why her husband said he loved spaghetti but wouldn’t touch hers and why Mom’s spaghetti turned out better than hers.

I think someone also mentioned a “free meal”. It’s not free if you have to make a monetary donation, a donation of services or goods for a silent auction and possibly be the only attendees/bidders.

I strongly agree with the last paragraph of AnaLuisa’s post. If you cannot occasionally decline an invite from a friend without negative consequences, then maybe your “friend” only likes you for what you can do for or give them.

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Daria April 4, 2014 at 2:01 pm

I wonder why Abby doesn’t contact her state or local chapter of the National MS Society and get involved in organized efforts where her desire to help would do the most good, and where she might interact with like-minded people instead of putting her friends on the spot by trying to enlist them in her cause. If I were the OP that’s what I’d suggest to Abby.

For those who are chastising the OP for writing about this from an etiquette standpoint — well, etiquette governs/informs social behavior and Abby is trying to use a faux social event to further her personal aims. I’d say it’s a fit.

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Whodunit April 3, 2014 at 9:40 am

I’m with OP here . She was invited to a charity’s event that is not her cup of tea, but is going anyway.

Now it looks like it’s to be cancelled because the host didn’t do a very good job if “selling” it, and OP us just saying what would have worked.

I think OP is confusing etiquette issues here by suggesting that OP was trying to hustle friends at an intimate party ( which we know is wrong) instead if hosting a true charity event,

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