On tickets, taxes and how HoHoTO works

One of the big questions this year is: how come my HoHoTO tix and sponsor packages now have HST on them?

It’s a pain, we know, but we’re afraid we have no choice. Last year’s HoHoTO brought in $40,000. We hope and expect to raise even more this year. That puts us over the $30K small vendor tax allowance so we are not tax exempt.

But wait: isn’t HoHoTO a charity-focused event? Well, yes, but it’s complicated:

  • Every cent we take in (after some small expenses) goes directly to the Daily Bread Food Bank;
  • Daily Bread is a registered charity;
  • But HoHoTO is not.

By definition, HoHoTO is actually a revenue-generating event that is selling a product or service. We know this sounds wrong, but we don’t make the tax rules and we’re advised that HST must apply to all that we do. We wish that wasn’t the case too.

Couldn’t we just register to become a charity or incorporate as a non-profit? Sure, we could do that. And incur the registration costs, the admin overhead, the need to file all kinds of financials and other paperwork; inevitably to end up running a whole big operation just to navigate the shark-infested bureaucratic waters of the non-profit world.

We could do that. And every step of the process would, we know, suck more money away from the Food Bank.

Everything we do is designed to ensure the hungry people of Toronto get as much money and food as we can possibly generate, with the lowest possible overhead. We beg, borrow, cajole, and do everything we legally can to make sure our expenses are as tiny as they can be.

Want the numbers? At the first event in 2008 we managed to raise $25,000. Our expenses included drink tickets for sponsorships, venue security and technicians, plus PayPal fees and some printing costs. The wonderful people at the Mod Club waived the usual venue fees, including all the waitstaff who volunteered their time. All said, our expenses were less than $5,000.

HoHoTO 2009 raised $50,000 and we still kept the expenses under $5K. Of course, this means that we actually have to bring in around $55K gross for $50K net, savvy?

We think that’s pretty darn good for a 650-person party and, frankly, we’re not interested in adding any complexity that might increase the cost overhead.

HoHoTO works because of the absence of structure. We’re not an entity – we’re a bunch of people. We’re a community. We’re not a foundation. We’re not a charity. And we’re not, sadly, tax exempt.

We are, however, the best Holiday party you’ve ever been to and a great way to help feed a whole lot of desperately poor people.

HoHoTO Tickets Now On Sale!

HoHoTO 2010 is here! Time to polish off those credit cards and PayPal accounts and start feeding Toronto’s hungry.

There’s a story behind the ticket pricing this year, one we’re sure you’ll understand.

Our goal, as always, is to make as much as we can for the Daily Bread Food Bank – and to ensure a lot of people have a ton of fun while the money rolls in. You drink, they eat – it’s a simple equation.

Here’s how this works.

There’s a limited block of tickets available at the same minimum ticket price as last year (before the addition of HST). These tickets are meant for students (19 and older) or others who really, truly can’t afford more than twenty bucks. If that’s not you, please choose one of the other price levels.

The main pricing structure was inspired by a statistic that really hit home for us. According to the Daily Bread’s “Fighting Hunger: Who’s Hungry. 2010 Profile of Hunger in the GTA” (PDF), the median monthly household income for food bank users in the Toronto area is a mere $1,000.

The same report explained that the average monthly rent (market only) is $750 and the average monthly utilities bill is around $120.

Just let that sink in for a moment. According to our math, that leaves a lot of our fellow Hogtown inhabitants with a scant $130 per month or about $32.50 per week to live on.

Could you live on $32.50 a week?

That’s where we started for the ticket prices this year. We honoured a block at last year’s price of $20 (+HST). Then, we used a rounded version of this figure for a $35 (+HST) ticket that helps the Daily Bread Food Bank feed a household for a week*. You’ll see that the rest of the tickets relate back to this figure including a special block that are $130 (+HST)–the remaining funds that some are left with for the month.

If you’re able to spend a little more, you help feed a Toronto-area household a little longer. The money you give us directly impacts the lives of your fellow Torontonians. Please, please give as much as you possibly can.

To buy your HoHoTO ticket now, click that big red button over there on the right or just click here. And tell all your friends!

Help us help the world suck a little less again this Holiday season. Help us drink for hunger.

*Our numbers are approximate and are intended to give you a tangible sense of the good you’re doing by supporting HoHoTO & the Daily Bread Food Bank.

“HoHoTO 2010, Bigger and Better”

We’re doing it again!

 

December 16th 2010, HoHoTO returns for the third installment, bigger and better than ever.

The organizers pulled together the first event in 2008 over the course of 48 hours. The second iteration took a bit longer. This year, we set a lofty goal to exceed all of our contributions from 2008 & 2009 in one event – that’s over $80k and several thousand pounds of food! We know that this goal would take more time and a lot more effort. And once again, this goal needs YOU – our amazing supporters, our champions and our HoHoTO family.

 
2009 bash
 

HoHoTO has proven to be an extraordinary example of the power of self-organizing online communities. The Toronto technology, digital marketing and social media communities come together, through their Twitter streams and Gmail accounts, to create what has become one of the biggest and most exciting seasonal gatherings in Toronto. Together we can grab the attention of the media, authors and even a Queen. Together we inspire case studies, blog posts and a few bright lights to head to YouTube to send us holiday greetings. We can get prizes and make sure that your online avatar is updated for the holidays. We can even convince the army to donate their time and muscles to the food collection.

All of this is remarkable, but that’s not really why we all come together each year to do this. We do this because sadly there is a need. People in our community need our help.

The Daily Bread Food Bank (the beneficiary of our fundraising efforts) gives us the hard and devastating facts that compel us all to work so hard. This past year, food banks have experienced the largest increase in client visits since social assistance rates were cut by 21.6 per cent in 1995. The percentage of children 18 years of age and under requiring food banks remains the same, while the percentage of people 45 years of age or older using food banks is getting larger.

  • Overall number of client visits to food banks across the GTA: 1,187,000
  • Percentage increase in client visits since 2009: 15%
  • Percentage of children 18 years of age and under using food banks: 34%
  • Percentage of adults 45 years of age and older using food banks: 28%
  • Percentage of children who go hungry at least once a week: 15%
  • Percentage of adults who go hungry at least once a week: 39%

Those are the stats, but these numbers – though startling – can’t really give us the full picture.

Imagine that the monthly household income of your family is $1000. Yes, we said monthly and that’s the median average household income. Now, subtract your average monthly rent (market only) of $750 and your average monthly utilities of $120. What does that leave you…according to our math, $130 per month or about $32.50 per week. Now, you can understand why 54 per cent of single persons and 42 per cent of other household types have not eaten for a whole day because of lack of money. Imagine. Many of us spend more on coffee over the course of a month.

It just breaks our hearts. That is the reason that each year, we come together for HoHoTO. We wish we could do more, but we know for a fact that the efforts we make together as the HoHoTO community, has an immediate impact in the wider Toronto community.

We have fun putting together a celebration and we are proud of the spectacles we have created since 2008. But, at our core, we all know why we do this. We have realized this degree of overwhelming success because you understand the need, you are passionate about making a difference and you have committed to seeing our collective goal realized.

No one uses a food bank because they want to – they use it because they need to. Let’s work together this month and next to help those who need it most. Give all that you can…no amount is too small, every bit of support is appreciated. Let’s make this the best HoHoTO event so that we can all be proud of having a real impact in our community.

 

About The Daily Bread Food Bank:

 

Daily Bread Food Bank is fighting to end hunger in our communities.

As the hub of the food bank community in Toronto, Daily Bread supports over 170 member agencies in running different kinds of food relief programs. Our agencies run neighbourhood food banks where people come to access food hampers, as well as meal programs where people can access prepared meals such as soups or casseroles.

We are the largest provider of emergency food relief in the GTA. Daily Bread member agencies see a monthly average of 73,000 client visits Our agencies serve the majority of the clients accessing food bank hampers in the city and many of the clients accessing prepared meals. Our boundaries encompass the former cities of East York, Toronto, Scarborough, Etobicoke and York.

Daily Bread is non-partisan and all-inclusive. Our supporters come from every income bracket, cultural background, faith group and walk of life. Whether informed by faith or social justice, the one thing our supporters have in common is the belief that no one in our communities should go hungry.