Dinner Fundraiser Ideas

by Michelle Key

Getting people to attend your event might take a little coaxing, but the promise of good food is sure to help. Planning just the right fundraising dinner can help you get donors excited about your event, and feeding them well encourages goodwill that can translate into donations for your organization.

Formal Dinner Party

A well-planned formal dinner could make your fundraiser the event of the season. Secure an elegant location, require formal attire and, most importantly, plan a menu that is worth the asking price. "Fundraiser Insight" magazine stresses the importance of luxury in a successful fundraising dinner, and suggests reinforcing this image by ensuring your dinner has all of the trappings, including attractively decorated tables with centerpieces, place cards and formal dinnerware.

Dinner Theatre

Bring in donors with the promise of good entertainment by hosting a dinner theatre event. Fundraiser Help suggests either using your own staff or contacting a local theatre group for assistance in organizing a murder mystery dinner theatre, and recommends including a silent auction for added donations.

Potluck Dinner

Save on food costs and give your event a feeling of community by hosting a potluck. Options for generating donations include charging an admission fee or holding a raffle or silent auction at the event. For a more innovative alternative, "Fundraiser Insight" suggests asking participants to share the recipes for their dishes and creating a cookbook that you can sell for additional revenue.

Progressive Dinner

While similar to a potluck in variety, a progressive dinner offers the added benefit of saving money on locations, supply rentals and decorating. Ask friends of your organization to offer up their homes or businesses and schedule each course in a different location. To ensure a lucrative and environmentally friendly event, consider renting vans for carpooling. Make sure someone involved in your cause who can answer questions and start relevant conversations is present in each vehicle.

Spaghetti Dinner

A spaghetti dinner can be a fun and social event for any organization. Focusing your fundraiser on a specific type of food can help with planning and decoration efforts, as well as give direction to your advertising and sponsorship efforts. According to Step by Step Fundraising, adding a colorful salad bar and well-stocked dessert table can ensure that your guests are satisfied with their meal, encouraging more generous donations.

Cooking Contests

Make your fundraising dinner a participation event, and save valuable dollars in your budget, by hosting a cooking competition. Choose a popular local cuisine as the theme for entries, and encourage guest participation by securing relevant prizes such as cooking utensils or restaurant gift certificates. "Fundraiser Insight" recommends a chili cook-off as a popular option.

About the Author

Michelle Key has been writing professionally since 1999. She has written training manuals, technical guides, press releases and marketing and fundraising materials for clients including Ruby Tuesday Inc. and Great Smoky Mountains Institute at Tremont. Key attended Maryville College, where she majored in writing/communications and music. She became a certified chiropractic therapist/assistant in 2002 and spent 2009-2010 attending naturalist certification courses at the Tremont Institute.

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