Black Tie Bingo Raises Thousands

By Ben Hamill - August 07 2015

Black Tie Bingo

Black Tie Bingo is the mirror image of drive-in bingo, which I discussed last time. The name Black Tie Bingo may scare off some people who think it's strictly for high rollers but that could not be further from the truth. It is a good deal more expensive to play than the average charitable bingo event—tickets at Black Tie Bingo nights usually run about $150— but the causes that Black Tie Bingo events raise money for are also far more expensive to run.


Black Tie Bingo is also not a fund raising event with a long pedigree like the Carp Fair. Five years or so is the norm. The great success Black Tie Bingo has had raising money not only in Canada but around the world indicates that the combination of dressing up to make a big donation whilst playing a party game is simply a brilliant idea.

Around the World

The Fort Smith/Branson area will host its eighth annual Black Tie Bingo later this year to help fund the Fort Smith Library Endowment. NewsFour, a small local newspaper in Dublin is hosting a Black Tie Bingo night in November to raise money for itself. The newspaper publishes only six issues per year so even though they're already in their 29th year they feel the financial squeeze quite regularly.

Westmoreland/Frick Hospital, near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, runs a Black Tie Bingo night every March to benefit home and hospice care and family support services.

Here at Home

Closer to home, the Great War Memorial Hospital of Perth District Foundation announced that their annual Black Tie Bingo night once again raised about $85,000. The Guelph General Hospital has raised as much as $180,000 at their annual event.

The Misericordia Health Centre ran its first Black Tie Bingo in 2014. The 2015 event filled a large hall in Winnipeg and raised much-needed sums.

The Eldercare Foundation of Ottawa and the OutCare Foundation combined to raise $50,000 at a Black Tie Bingo event.

More Black Tie Bingo Nights Every Year

The list is quite extensive; I could go on and on but you get the picture. There are two questions to ask: why does bingo lend itself to this kind of charitable event and how can we expand on the idea of Black Tie Bingo to attract people who may be a bit intimidated by the name?

The Uniqueness of Bingo

Bingo is magnificently positioned as an attraction for heavy duty fund raising. Bingo is the participation sport for the athletically challenged. You need some good eye-hand coordination to daub every number in a 10-game card before the next number gets called. It's a game where everyone can give a hoop and a holler even when they haven't won. In a friendly bingo centre game you can get excited when you get close. So, especially in a charity bingo session, getting close is as much fun as winning.

Usually, when people come to fund-raising events to raise money for a hospital or other excellent cause they have to sit through a slew of boring speeches, clap politely, perhaps make a half-hearted toast, east some dried bird, and go home satisfied that they gave to a good cause. And, indeed they did!

Black Tie Bingo lets you play the part of big donor and the role of kid at the same time. As we said, tickets to Black Tie Bingo nights generally run about $150. Usually, the food and drink are somewhat more extravagant than what you usually get when raising money for a private academy or church. But the food and drink are mere extras. The big event is playing a little kids' game whilst all decked out in the finest of the finest. It seems like a contradiction in terms but it is really a brilliant juxtaposition of two profound human characteristics: the desire to be forever young and the desire to give of yourself pursuant to your means.

We've Only Just Begun

Black Tie Bingo has just begun to be a method of raising tens of thousands of dollars without the constant need to knock on doors. It turns fund raising into fun raising.

Budget for a Night of Black Tie Bingo

Most people of average means donate time and money to many small or large local causes but may be put off a bit by a $150 price tag to attend a formal event. Here we need to educate ourselves. Just as we budget our money for everything from food to holidays, we can budget our charitable giving to include one night helping out the local hospital or other major good cause. And if we choose to do so whilst playing our favourite kids' game, so much the better!