As charity season fast approaches this fall, you want to make sure you are well equipped to go to charity and philanthropy events as a single.  A common misconception is that only couples go to charity events together.  But you would be amazed at how many singles go to charity events! One of the main reasons for this is that tickets can be extremely expensive if you are early on in the dating process, and many people will not shell out $350 for an event if they have just met you.  Charity events are a great way to meet people who have a vested interest in something you are passionate about and want to support. It is a pre-qualified way to meet someone who has a common connection with something you support either personally or through your job. 

I recently attended the Giorgio Gucci Celebrity Charity Gala at The Pierre Hotel presented by Emperors Brand and sponsored by The Luxury Marketing Council, Chance TV, Bentley and Rolls Royce. The event raised money for over 25 attending charities. While I was at first nervous to go to the event alone, I saw many other singles walking onto the ‘step and repeat’ without a date or partner.  I was shocked at just how many singles there were! Taking photos alone was only the first hurdle to get over and getting seated at a dinner table alone is the next.  Remember that everyone is just as nervous as you are at these events, even if they are going there with a date.  The primary reason you are at the event is to support the charity so, if you are alone, walk around the silent auction and talk to people about the items they are bidding on.  Ask them questions about the charity.  At the dinner table, find out if they have attended events for this charity previously.  If you centralize your conversation around the charity, you will have a surefire icebreaker and will feel less awkward when walking around alone.

When you first walk into the room, walk in with a sense of confidence even though you may be nervous.  Be friendly, but do not be overly friendly; people may see this as “leeching” and may become uncomfortable.  Try to “work the room” and meet as many people as you can, and always be “light and polite.” Keep the predominant focus of the conversation around the charity, not around your business.

One of the worst things you can do at a charity event is stand out as a “business card pusher.”  I was mortified at how many people I saw trying to put their business card in Gucci’s hand when he shook it for a photo.  I am all for being aggressive, but do not be so overly aggressive that it appears pushy.  This will not only turn everyone off around you, it will surely turn off the person you are trying to speak with.

Rachel Heller, a New York City socialite and actress, who is also a columnist for Social Life Magazine says, “Walk around like you are surveying the room like you are looking for someone, but don’t look overly miss-placed or confused.  Try to find out about the charity- learn about the charity and make it about the charity- you are going there for a purpose.  Whether it is to learn about the charity, or you are going there for work, never make the objection to meet someone- remember the purpose is to support the charity.  Don’t go into the room looking to catch a fish.  Go in the room with the objective that you are there to help the charity.  If you hit it off with someone after learning more about the charity, then that is an added bonus.”

One of the most common areas of concern for singles at charity events is what to wear versus not wear. The art of dressing at charity events is truly a fine art! You want to dress elegantly while still appearing trendy. My top tip is to always err on the side of elegant. 

Below, style guru Derek Fabulous has the following tips for singles at charity events.

Style tips for women on what to wear at a charity event:

Never get a spray tan that day because it comes off on your gown

If you are going to wear Spanx®, make sure you can’t see them through your dress.

Always carry a personal card or business card with you. Without the card, you will never remember who you met. “If somebody asks for your card, you should always have one.”

Your “social card” should have your name and phone number and it should be very personal.  Men become intimidated by women in business and carrying a personal card is a very sexy way to make it a more enjoyable experience rather than handing out a business card.  It creates a mystique or an aura around you. Spray perfume on it and have fun with it!

Dress lengths: Any length is appropriate, as long as it is cocktail or better!  I saw some women at a recent charity event that weren’t even in cocktail dresses and did not think it was appropriate.  On the same hand, I saw women in ridiculous gowns and thought, “This is not the Oscars®.”

Heavy makeup is not sexy.  If the makeup is too simple you will get lost in the crowd, but if it is too heavy then it looks too clammy.  

Pick your accessory and pick your makeup.

If you do more to the mouth, keep your eyes at a minimum and give yourself some contour.  I noticed a lot of eye, a lot of lip and a lot of cheek all together.  It’s overkill.

Your dress should fit.  I saw so many tops that were too small—heavy cleavage is inappropriate—especially at a charity event!  Buy a dress that is your size.  You could look just as sexy as something in your size, as opposed to something that is too small.

Clutches are the way to go for evening and especially cocktail.  You want to coordinate, but it doesn’t have to match.

Style tips for men:

At least wear a black suit or a great suit with a tie.  If the attire is black tie, do not wear something that you would wear to the office.

If it says black tie optional, then cocktail is fine.  A suit is fine, but not a sports jacket with a casual trouser.  A lot of the men make the mistake of dressing overly casual.

If you are shopping on a recession budget for a charity event, Derek Fabulous recommends shopping at the following stores: Century 21, Macy’s, TJ Maxx®, and Loehmann’s.  “These are fantastic places to shop for budget cocktail,” said Derek. 

Derek also says that shopping for a charity event is a year round thing. “So many people don’t shop year round for this, but shopping ahead is the way to go because that’s how you get the best price.  How many times have you gone shopping and said, ‘I need this but I don’t have an event go to right now and then you want to kick yourself for not getting it.’  My rule is shop as you see it- even if you don’t have an event in the foreseeable future to go to.  It is always better to have it when it is the right piece at the right price.  You are better off having a collection because you will inevitably spend too much money for an event like this if you have not bought it ahead of time.  Always buy classic and buy ‘you.’  Swapping is also a cost-effective way to shop for charity events.”

Derek’s final word of advice for singles at charity events is to be nice to everyone because you never know who can introduce you to someone else. “Your body language is key.  Feeling warm and smiling is equally as important as dressing well.  Confidence is really sexier than anything you could ever put on. You could be in a gorgeous outfit but if you look like an ice queen no one will approach you.  If you have a beautiful attitude, people will be more apt to speak to you.  You never know who you will meet. Think of it as a job—there is no choice and that is how you should always act.  When you live that way, it becomes who you are.”

Finally, many well-known matchmakers often attend charity events. So even if you do not click with anyone at the charity event you are at, introduce yourself to matchmakers who may be able to pair you up with your perfect match! If you meet someone great and do not happen to get their name, be sure to check sites like or which have tagged photos of the events to make it easy to re-connect with someone.  Remember to have fun, look elegant, and keep the focus on the charity and you will be sure to build relationships that will hopefully lead you closer to what could be “the one!” 

About the Author
Kristen Ruby is the President & Founder of Ruby Media Group, a Social Media Marketing, Public Relations & Personal Branding Agency. Follow Kris on Twitter @sparklingruby or via her blog.
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