The Crystal Charity Ball is one of the most prominent events on the Dallas philanthropy circuit. With more than half a century dedicated to assisting various nonprofits, it can hardly be overlooked.
But one detail that seems to slip through the cracks to those not deep within the crevasse who diligently keep the organization running, is the history behind the name.
In 1952, Nancy Ann Chandler, née Smith, recruited 16 women to serve on the first committee of an organization that would raise funds for nonprofits that served children in the Dallas community.
know before you go
WHEN: Saturday, Dec. 5
WHERE: Hilton Anatole Dallas
WHO: Crystal Charity Ball committee members and guests
THEME: An Evening of Celestial Radiance
Funds raised in 1952
Funds raised in 2015
Total raised in 63 years
After much deliberation and decision-making, the Dallas Polio Chapter was selected as the group’s first beneficiary. That year, the committee was able to present a check for $17,730 to the organization, kicking off a tradition that would go on for another 63 years.
On Dec. 6, 1952, 350 guests attended the inaugural Crystal Charity Ball, hosted at the Baker Hotel’s Crystal Ballroom. The site of the debut event serves as the inspiration for the organization’s name.
Since the initial event, the Crystal Charity Ball has perfected its beneficiary selection process, allowing the effort to benefit multiple groups rather than one. It has also added details, like the Children’s Book, that aid the fundraising effort.
For 63 years, the event has evolved into an effort that has raised almost $124 million for many nonprofits in Dallas County.
“It is a sincere and very serious commitment,” said 2015 Crystal Charity Ball committee chairwoman Michal Powell. “We find beneficiaries that align with our missions and we raise money for them … but we don’t just fund the agency; we fund very specific projects within each agency.”
But, as Powell explained, while “ball” is in the name, it’s only a small portion of the organization’s identity.
“[The ball] is an exclamation point of the year,” Powell said. “It’s a celebration of what we’ve done that year.”
While much planning goes into the pinnacle event held each December, the organization spends four months in the thorough beneficiary selection process. The remainder of the year is dedicated to raising the amounts committed to each organization.
This year marks the second that Dallas LIFE has been selected to benefit from the Crystal Charity Ball. To the nonprofit, the ball is more than an evening of splendor.
“Crystal Charity is a fabulous cheerleader strongly supporting those organizations that are providing change,” said Bob Sweeney, CEO of Dallas LIFE. “Their encouragement, words of support and ability to raise funds among their donor base continue to be a blessing to all the homeless children of Dallas.”
Another veteran beneficiary is North Texas Food Bank. The organization, which has been selected for the third time, recognizes the effort in the selection process.
“I think about it as the Good Housekeeping seal of approval,” said North Texas Food Bank CEO Jan Pruitt. “In their [selection] process, they do a lot of due diligence, making sure they’re putting their money where it’s best used. When you get chosen, you feel there’s a bar and you’re reaching that.”