Fantastic Food and Fundraising

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Fantastic Food and Fundraising

Lousy Food = Recipe for Fundraising Disaster

Fabulous food at your fundraising event matters – especially if delivering what donors desire is high on your list (which it absolutely should be!). We hear complaints about food too often – it’s cold upon arrival, inedible, only half the table has their entrees, rubber chicken, a server spilled something on a major donor – the list goes on and on! But did you know food actually impacts the amount of money raised at your event? Bad food equals a bad guest experience, and THAT means money left on the table – as we know, when guests are happy, they give more. Here are a few things to consider when food is on the forefront of your fundraising agenda. 

Know your Donors

Get to know the folks you call donors. Are they religious, health conscious, allergic, or restricted in their eating? Just knowing the answers to these simple questions will help you avoid a number of menu mishaps and keep your crowd content and in the giving mood. Don’t know? Survey them and find out.

Vet Catering Companies

Who will cater your event? It’s likely the biggest factor determining donor satisfaction, in terms of the quality of food served, the service itself and how happy (and GIVING) your donors will be as a result. Do major reconnaissance and select wisely. Check references and find out how satisfied former customers are/were. Put service and quality at the forefront of all fundraising decisions for happier donors. 

Just say NO to Buffets!

Seriously. No donor wants to stand in line – EVER – especially if they have to work to serve themselves the dinner they paid a premium for. Don’t make guests work at anything while attending your fundraiser. 

Furthermore, buffets are MOMENTUM KILLERS. They take far longer than any other type of service. This delays the start of the live program, and consequently, the velocity of the entire night. You never want the fundraising to start AFTER your donors have peaked energetically.

Many clients argue that buffets are cost-effective. But are they really? It may be a bit cheaper, overall, to go buffet-style, but the decrease in donors’ perceived value of your event will not make up the difference and you will lose money. If it’s not a great experience for them, they won’t won’t give to capacity, nor will they tell everyone how great your event was. A buffet might save you a few dollars a head in the short term but your bottom line will surely suffer in the long run. Trust us. Buffets are the death of momentum. Just say no. 

Dietary Restrictions

The days of two meal options – “meat or vegetarian” – are over. These days, you have ovo-vegetarians, lacto-vegetarians, pescatarians, vegans… it’s imperative to offer options for folks on most any diet. Not to mention food allergies – peanuts, lactose, gluten and caseins are common – it’s not easy to accommodate all of your guests! You must know who they are and if they can eat what you provide.   

Culturally or Religiously-Insensitive Menus

Again – you must know who is in the room. Consider your demographic before booking your catering company and determining the menu. You certainly wouldn’t want to offer shrimp and ham to kosher Jewish donors or beef to your Hindu guests. Are you raising money for a Catholic school on a Friday during the season of Lent? Be sure to have vegetarian options.

Hard and Soft Drinks

Not everybody drinks alcohol – keep this in mind when planning your drink menu. Not everybody drinks soda either! You can do much better (when it comes to nonalcoholic drinks) than soda. Consider offering a signature cocktail and a related “mocktail” – ideally, something that aligns with your mission or night’s theme. Add sparkling waters and juices (can double as cocktail mixers. Bonus!) to keep everyone happy.

It’s never easy to please everyone. But you can come closer to doing so – and the effort will be appreciated. We can help. Reach out!

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