Last month, more than 700 tuxedoed and ball-gowned revelers gathered in the Museum of Natural History’s Milstein Hall of Ocean Life for the annual S.L.E. Lupus Foundation gala. As the attendees feasted on black American caviar, Margaret Dowd, the foundation’s executive director, was marveling at something else: the size of the crowd.
The foundation had not seen so many people at its annual gala since 2007. “It’s been very tough the last few years, and we had to cut expenses drastically,” she said. “In 2009, many of our donors said, ‘Our portfolios were really harmed and we have to cut our donations, but we’ll be back.’ And they did come back. This year has been much, much better.”
The benefit raised $2.5 million—a significant jump from the $2.2 million raised at last year’s. Things have not returned to the 2007 level, when the gala’s $3.2 million haul set a national record, which has yet to be topped, for lupus research funds collected at a single event, but the foundation is on track to raise 10 to 12 percent more this year than the previous one. Ms. Dowd added that the nonprofit’s spring luncheon saw such a dramatic spike in attendance this year—a 30 percent increase—that next year they plan to hold it in the Plaza. Read More