CHRP's Thanks 4 Giving makes a joyful noise

November 24, 2010

Have a favorite charity? Or want to make a one-off donation?

 

You can give painlessly AND watch/hear people banging on things, including the floor and themselves, by attending Chicago Human Rhythm Project’s annual “Global Rhythms” show, featuring tap and percussive ensembles local, national, and international.

CHRP head Lane Alexander (photo by Eric Futran)

“I sometimes call this the people’s benefit,” says CHRP head Lane Alexander, who came up with the Thanks 4 Giving program in 2005 in hopes of sharing the wealth, building community, and increasing audiences. “Prices are low, so everybody can afford to attend, not just people who can purchase $500 gala tickets. Our goal is to extend the run to eight shows and raise $500,000 for charity $7.50 at a time!”

That’s half the lowest ticket price. Because fully half the proceeds go to charity, or can go.   

Here’s how it works. First check the CHRP site, which lists the nearly 75 nonprofits signed up for Thanks 4 Giving this year, including About Face Theater, ETA Creative Arts, Porchlight Music Theatre, Urban Gateways, the Illinois Latino Cultural Center of Chicago, the Greater Chicago Food Depository, the DuSable Museum … Don’t scrooge out, there’s a variety of worthy causes.

Note the code of your nonprofit of choice, then enter it on the Harris Theater site when you buy your tickets. Voila! You’ve made both a holiday donation and plans for the post-Thanksgiving desert weekend. Four shows, each different, begin Friday and run through Sunday. And CHRP takes 10 percent off the ticket price for anyone using a code.

“We want partners in this big time,” Alexander says.

When he and Kelly Michaels (who died in 1995) started CHRP, a producing organization, in 1990, they conceived it as a fund-raiser for Open Hand Chicago, a Meals on Wheels for people living with HIV/AIDS. So Thanks 4 Giving is in line with CHRP’s history. 

But with the downturn in the economy and consequent loss of staff at many nonprofits, Alexander says, “It’s harder for them to publicize their partnership with CHRP and ‘Global Rhythms.’ But we’re committed to the program.”

CHRP supplies video, verbiage, photos, and between 70,000 and 100,000 postcards to partners, along with stickers printed with their codes. “We’ve made it as user-friendly as possible,” Alexander says. “The partnership works best when they make a commitment throughout the year. You have to repeat the message.”

“Lawrence Hall Youth Services [which treats and houses at-risk youth] just joined last year, and they had the biggest success of anybody. They stuck postcards in their newsletters and sent dedicated e-blasts. And they verbally acknowledged the event at a couple of functions.”

Between 2005 and 2007, Alexander says, “Our revenue went from $24,000 to $105,000. The first year, $12,000 went to the partners. By the third year, it was $35,000.” But in 2008, Alexander says, “OUR bubble also burst. That was the year we couldn’t get [Brazilian body-percussion troupe] Barbatuques into the country.” Visas were denied at the last minute, and “Global Rhythms” was canceled.

The following year, 2009, “was the first post-economic-collapse show,” Alexander says. “Levels went back to about the same as our second year, 2006—about $75,000.” So far, sales this year are up over last.