The Anchorage Mayor's Charity Ball: funding charities for twenty years.

Author:Anderson, Tasha

The Anchorage Mayor's Charity Ball (AMCB), a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization, made its first appearance in 1993. Since that time, the Ball has donated $2.7 million to more than sixty charities.

It was founded by Robert Penney, a group of volunteers, community leaders, and then-Mayor Rick Mystrom. Henry Penney, Roberts son and current president of the charity's board of directors, clarifies that AMCB is not a part of the Mayor's office. "It was my father's idea to try to leverage the [Mayor's] office for charity. [But AMCB] is completely separate from the Mayor's office, [though] the Mayor has historically attended every year."

High Attendance in 2013

Last year's event grossed $264,000 in gross revenue. After expenses, the AMCB was able to donate $207,000 to the four randomly selected charities. Henry Penney says that last years' attendance was quite high with almost eight hundred attendees, though he attributes that partly to it being the twentieth anniversary of the event. Generally attendance ranges from the high six hundreds to the low seven hundreds.

In addition to dinner, the event includes live and silent auctions and dancing. "It's a lot of work," Penney says. "We start in March." To keep costs as minimal as possible, all of the work put into AMCB is volunteer work, from the organizers to the emcee. "Typically we've been fortunate in getting Paul McGuire [to be auctioneer]," Penney says. "He's done it the last few years," and will again this year.

Part of the charity's success is that all of the organizers aren't just focused on raising money, but on planning a pleasant evening for all in attendance. "We try to keep the live auction event relatively brief but profitable--so we usually keep it to about a dozen items." Following the auction, guests can dance, socialize, and bid on the silent auction items. "Predominantly we raise a fair amount of money," Penney says, "[but] it's a really fun social event on top of everything else."

Charity Review Process

A second huge boon to AMCB's success is the charities themselves. Penney explains that they're selected through a reviewed, but random, process. Each charity is asked to complete an application which certifies specific criteria, such as the charity must be a 501 (c)(3) organization; it must have a physical address in Anchorage for three years preceding application; it must have articles of incorporation filed with the State of Alaska or be a recognized chapter of a national...

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