SCRIPT: Giving in America: The Glitz vs. the Poor 12/05

'Tis the season of giving. And that means it's make or break time for charities. A time for glamorous fundraisers in glittering halls. A time when people with money turn out to be wined and dined and write checks. Turns out, people are giving more and more. So why are the poor getting a smaller percentage? We asked Chief Investigative Correspondent Brian Ross to find out.

R. COURI HAY, PUBLICIST

In New York City, it's all around charities. Social life in New York revolves around giving. And so every single night there are five, six, maybe even ten parties during the busy season a night where you can go and give to a worthy cause.

BRIAN ROSS, ABC NEWS

Separating the rich, the powerful and the famous from their money has become a crucial part of what's known in New York and Hollywood as the charity game.

HOLLY PETERSON, "NEWSWEEK"

Brian, I would call this a game of keeping up, catching up, and sucking up. You have to be in the right crowd. You have to be seen as a generous person, and you always, always have to give money to your boss' favorite charity.

BRIAN ROSS

When it comes to charity in these circles, nothing but the best will do, creating a level of opulence that can seem incredibly out of place if the true goal is to help the needy.

R. COURI HAY

It's glamorous and the women look beautiful, and everyone's dressed up in beautiful gowns and jewels. But they're raising millions of dollars while they do it, and they're looking good. Well, wow. I mean, what could be better than that?

BRIAN ROSS

R. Couri Hay is a publicist who makes his living in the charity game. Trying, as he says, to marry luxury and philanthropy.

R. COURI HAY

It is not easy to raise a million dollars. And so it's got to be glamorous and exciting. Celebrities really help. Oh, boy.

ANGELINA JOLIE, ACTRESS

I'm very honored to be here tonight to support Witness and its critical work in Sierra Leone.

R. COURI HAY

We're still in celebrity culture. So, everybody wants a celebrity at the party.

JIM CARREY, ACTOR

I believe in charity. I just don't believe in talking about it.

R. COURI HAY

You know, you add a celebrity, you're adding excitement, and people pay money to be near a celebrity.

BRIAN ROSS

Americans are expected to give some $250 billion to charity this year. Much of it in these next few weeks before the end of the year when donations must be in to count for a tax deduction. So now the charity game is in full swing.

HOLLY PETERSON

It's a chance for these people to show off their wares, to show how much money they've made, to show how well they're doing, to show how beautiful they are, to show how thin they are and to show how chic they are.

BRIAN ROSS

"Newsweek" Contributing Editor Holly Peterson knows all about it firsthand. She's written about and is part of the upper crust of the New York social scene. A kind of Park Avenue whistleblower.

HOLLY PETERSON

I've played this game myself. I chair about four charities a year.

BRIAN ROSS

You chair four charities.

HOLLY PETERSON

Uh-huh.

BRIAN ROSS

And how do you get people to give to your charities?

HOLLY PETERSON

I have generous friends. The key is to get glamorous, important, rich and powerful people on your board.

BRIAN ROSS

And if you don't have them?

HOLLY PETERSON

If you don't have them, you're screwed.

BRIAN ROSS

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