The Journal The Authority on Global Business in Japan

The Charity Ball committee works throughout the year to plan one of the largest annual events held by the American Chamber of Commerce in Japan (ACCJ). We usually start out focusing on which charities we will support, working closely with the ACCJ Community Service Advisory Council to identify them.

In recent years, we have received input from more members, and we like to think that we are making a real difference in our local community. Through the years that we have been a charity event, we have helped—and continue to help—the homeless, abused, and neglected. We have assisted families, men, women, and children in various ways, as well as provided mental health services, assistance to those fighting cancer, and help for areas recovering from natural disasters.

While these causes are a big part of the annual Charity Ball, the event is also our biggest social gathering. And with that in mind, we endeavor to create an evening that—we hope—is fun, exciting, and memorable. After picking a theme, decorations and entertainment follow, and we are happy to listen to ideas from ACCJ members on what they would like to see at the Charity Ball.

To try to involve more of the ACCJ membership in our fundraising efforts and raise awareness of the Charity Ball, we initiated our annual wine taste-off some years back. This event gives members a chance to choose the wine we will serve at the Charity Ball. With the help of several vendors—and a price point that fits our budget—this event has continued to be popular.

One of the events that we added this year was a fundraiser for Houston,TX’s recovery from Hurricane Harvey. One of our committee members, Lori Hewlett, is a Houston native, and this was something she was passionate about doing. The Charity Ball Committee and the ACCJ supported this effort.

Organizing a fundraiser on short notice presents logistical issues, but with the help of Tony Evans from fundraising group Charity Bar, we were able to secure a location and a price point that made sense. From there, we worked on sponsorship and were fortunate enough to enlist the help of Little Texas, a small bar in Meguro, with the help of its owner, Grace, of country dance group Dancing Texas.

With their great help—and the support of our Japanese friends who are passionate about all things Texas—we were able to raise ¥400,000 for Houston on the evening. A few weeks later, we were invited to Little Texas to receive an additional ¥183,000 raised by the good people of Dancing Texas, bringing the total raised to almost ¥600,000! The funds were sent to local organizations in Houston and along the Texas coast.

The experience of seeing our local Japanese community show such strong support for Houston was really an inspiration, and speaks to why we feel that the Charity Ball—our effort to give back to our host country—is a very important part of the ACCJ’s community outreach.

Barbara Hancock is chair of the ACCJ Charity Ball Committee.