Best Charity

Last fall was a very bad season for charities not involved in post-9/11 relief efforts. This is why the Florida Philharmonic's ballsy, successful campaign to raise $2.5 million was so remarkable. Coming on the heels of so much bad press for the philharmonic -- the musicians' strike in 2000 and its ensuing tensions, James Judd's abrupt resignation in November 2001, the resignation of its executive director in December 2001, continued budget deficits -- it's simply amazing they pulled it off. Robert Levinson, past chairman of the orchestra's tricounty Governing Council, ticks off the campaign's three dimensions: The orchestra's 84 musicians donated part of their salaries; the front office staff cut costs largely by laying off employees; and board members past and present both donated their own funds and leaned on their friends for about a million dollars -- while checks in small denominations totaling $20,000 to $30,000 rolled in. Voilà! $2.5 million found, roughly half in cost savings and the remainder in donations, in six short weeks. The orchestra is saved. Suddenly, for the first time in years, everyone involved with the philharmonic is playing from the same sheet music, and what you hear is the sound of success.



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