DEAR MISS MANNERS: I was invited to an event that the initial e-mail invite described as "an evening of love" with an acquaintance who is a news personality -- in support of the animal rights charity she belongs to. I RSVPed to the group's e-mail address.
When the parking and shuttle instructions were e-mailed a couple of days later, the event was described as a fundraiser, a word that had never appeared in the original invite. (As a journalist, I was mostly going for a possible story idea, to say "hi" and, I must admit, "to network.")
I remember getting an invite from the group a year or two earlier, which asked for $40, to attend an event. This time no amount was listed, and I had no idea how much might be expected. I have nothing against the charity, but I am not a strong supporter, and it is not a cause I would ordinarily give to. I accepted thinking it was a group meeting of likeminded individuals, not a fundraiser.
Could I go in good conscience and not give anything, even if an attempt were made to make me feel guilty?
Moreover, when an "evening of love" becomes a fundraiser, are you obligated to follow through on your accepted invitation? Can you rescind the acceptance once the true nature of the event is revealed -- and must you provide an excuse, state the truth or be vague?
Shouldn't they just say upfront it is a fundraiser? I almost feel a bit snookered. Here is the part that will give you heart palpitations: Since it appears to be more of a business event than a social event, can I "just not go" without rescinding?
GENTLE READER: "An evening of love" with a "personality"? And you thought that would be free?
Here Miss Manners thought she was naive.
The answer to the last of your many questions is no. You don't have to go, and you don't have to donate to the cause, but it would be mean to cost the organization money by counting you in the total they plan to feed (presuming that that is included with an evening of love).
You need only say that you now find you are unable to attend. Canceling for such an event is not like rescinding the acceptance to a private dinner party, for which the only excuse is death. But if you want to make the point, you can simply note that you had not realized it was a fundraiser.
Or you could go, listen to the pitch and then decide whether you want to contribute to the cause. That, in theory, is how a nonticketed fundraiser is supposed to work.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: My son was invited to the prom by a girl from another school. She said, when I asked, that he only needs to pay for his ticket if he wants, but I think as a gentleman brought up in Texas, he should pay for both. What do you think?
GENTLE READER: That wherever she was brought up, a lady should know how to be a hostess and pay the expenses when she issues an invitation.