Neil Gaiman Promises Cheesecake Factory Menu Reading for $500K Fundraiser

neil gaiman cheesecake factory menu charity challengeNeil Gaiman

Update (June 7, 12:58 a.m.): While the donations continue to roll in, after nearly two weeks since its inception, Benincasa’s ambitious charity campaign (reported May 19) has only managed to earn 18 percent of its goal at $91,200. With a $500,000 goal in mind, the fundraiser (better known as #NeilCake) has yet to cross the $100K mark, with less than two weeks remaining.

Even so, the money that has been raised thus far is an incredible feat. Certainly more donations will pour in as days go by, though it’s uncertain whether the mark will be met in time (June 20, World Refugee Day).

Nonetheless, we hope Gaiman will be a good sport about the offer and be willing to read at least half of the Cheesecake Factory’s menu items. Personally, I think it would suffice for the author to pronounce “Toasted Marshmallows S’mores Galore.” Just once.

Update (literally a few hours later): With thanks to Benincasa, #NeilCake has officially become a thing on Twitter. At 7 percent of the way, the fundraiser has already accumulated more than $33,700.

Thousands upon thousands of fans continue to pitch in, with one sole supporter donating $10,000 alone. By the looks of it, Gaiman fans really want to hear the author recite the Cheesecake Factory’s lineup of tasty treats. Such enthusiasm has managed to impress even Gaiman himself.

If you want to help this cause, now is the time to donate! (Deadline: June 20)

Original article: Neil Gaiman‘s most recent charitable effort could be his sweetest yet.

On Friday (May 19), Eater Contributor Sara Benincasa gave quite the unusual (and ambitious) charity proposal to the best-selling author on Twitter. “Dear Neil Gaiman: for $500K to the charity of your choice would you read the Cheesecake Factory menu in its entirety onstage pls advise,” Benincasa writes in her offer.

In just a matter of hours, the Sandman author responded: “I have said Yes,” Gaiman replied. “If she makes it happen, for charity, I will do this thing.” This thing: a dramatic reading of all the glorious confections Cheesecake Factory is known to offer. Which includes well over 250 items, if you didn’t know already.

When asked what prompted her to pitch the sugar-coated deal to Gaiman, let’s just say Benincasa was under what some might consider a cheesecake coma:

“Last week I watched an episode of the sublime TV adaptation of American Gods, went on a goddamn elegant date to Cheesecake, woke up, drank coffee, and went into some kind of inspiration blackout,” she told Eater. “When I came to, I discovered I’d asked Neil if he’d read the entire Cheesecake Factory menu onstage in exchange for a $500,000 donation to a charity of his choice.”

neil gaiman to read cheesecake factory menu for charity
Cheesecake Factory

And thus, a Crowdrise charity for the United Nation Refugee Agency was born, which will aid the UNHCR’s global alliance committed to “saving lives, protecting rights and building a better future for refugees, forcibly displaced communities and stateless people.” According to Benincasa’s donation page, the $500K deadline has been set for June 20, on World Refugee Day.

Read Benincasa’s full fundraiser statement below.

I asked Neil Gaiman if he’d do a live reading of the Cheesecake Factory menu if I raised $500,000 for a charity of his choice. And because he’s not just a great artist but a great person, he said yes. He chose UNHCR, the United Nations Refugee Agency. I want to hit this goal by World Refugee Day on June 20.

You read that right. If we hit $500K, Neil has kindly agreed to do a live reading of the greatest restaurant menu of all time. It’s about 8000 pages, last time I checked. Have you heard Neil’s voice? Mellifluous, I tell you. There’s a reason he won an award for audiobooks along with all the 18,000 other things he’s won as an author/screenwriter/producer/raconteur/hero.

FYI, the hashtag for this silliness is #neilcake. Why? Because it is silly and good.

I’ll arrange with Neil at his convenience to do the reading within the next year in a public setting, whether onstage or online. If it’s onstage, I’ll sell tickets and donate profits after costs to UNHCR. Regardless, I will make the event available to the general public via livestream or a lovely video you can watch later whilst weeping at the beauty of Neil Gaiman saying “avocado egg rolls.”

You think you loved “American Gods” or “Sandman” or “Good Omens” or his “Doctor Who” episodes or the other 18,000 great things he’s written? This will almost certainly be better or at least involve more Snickers and Oreo references.

Most important of all: UNHCR does extraordinary work with refugees. According to UNHCR, “An unprecedented 65.3 million people around the world have been forced from home. Among them are nearly 21.3 million refugees, over half of whom are under the age of 18.” Refugees are often denied basic rights such as education, healthcare, employment and freedom of movement. Neil’s been active on behalf of world refugees for years. It’s a fantastic cause.

Please note: I’ve set the goal a little higher than $500,000 because I want to cover the processing fee from Crowdrise (it’s lower than other industry competitors, which is one reason I chose Crowdrise. You also have the option of covering your own fee when you make your donation.)

Also note: neither Neil Gaiman nor the Cheesecake Factory is a sponsor of this event. It’s just one cheesecake-addicted, “Sandman”/”American Gods” on STARZ fan’s idea. Let’s do something good. And let’s have fun doing it.

For more about UNHCR:

For more about me:

Thanks so much for reading about #neilcake.

— Sara Benincasa’s Fundraiser, Crowdrise

Learn more about how to donate here.

In the meantime, feel free to share your thoughts on Gaiman’s latest deal in the comments below!

Paris Close
the authorParis Close
Founding Editor. Give me Gillian Flynn or give me death.