Lady Gaga's performance at the Robin Hood Foundation gala last spring wowed the hedge funders and Hollywood types who packed the annual event. At this year's bash on May 14, reigning pop star Rihanna will take the stage.
While most charities offer up a rubber-chicken dinner at their fundraising galas and are lucky if they bring in $2 million, Robin Hood's annual shindig attracts the biggest names in entertainment and grosses tens of millions of dollars—more than any other charity in the world, fundraising executives say.
The event is so popular that the foundation must hold it at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center, where it can fit all 4,000 guests. Even the Metropolitan Museum of Art's Costume Institute Ball, long considered the most prestigious party in New York, is dwarfed by the 22-year-old Robin Hood fest. Last year, the Met took in a record $10.4 million for that soiree, while Robin Hood raised more than $47.4 million—and that was an off year after raising a staggering $87 million and $73 million in 2010 and 2009, respectively.