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How to Host the Ultimate Sit-Down Dinner for Raising Funds

If you are looking to host a fundraising dinner, here is what you need to know. 


Running a non-profit usually means that donors are your biggest, if not the only, source of income. You depend on them almost completely, and your ability to keep contributing to your chosen cause is very often in their hands. Maintaining a good relationship with your donors is of paramount importance for the survival of your non-profit

One of the biggest points of contact with your donors is a sit-down dinner for raising funds. You get to interact with them, inspire them and secure the future of your organisation all in one night. This is why events like these are of the utmost importance. And you need to make sure that they are absolutely perfect, worthwhile and straight to the point.

However, easier said than done. The pressure is pretty high, and that can affect even the best plans. Sometimes, you aren’t even sure how to begin planning and what should be written down on your sit-down fundraised dinner checklist. No worries, we are here to help. The funds aren’t going to raise themselves, so keep reading.


Things That Matter – Cause and Call For Action

No item on your checklist is as important as your cause. The only goal of the night is to inspire people to donate their money towards your cause, and to make them believe that you will put it to good use. Not only do they need to feel sympathy and the desire to get involved, but they also need to trust that you will do the absolute best with what you have.

This isn’t always easy to achieve, but you should focus on the personal touch and true stories your organisation has to share. It always helps to have people whose lives you touched, improved or even saved with your program to be there and interact with guests, if not give their own perspective. Make sure that your donors know the statistics of how their money is being spent, but, first and foremost, focus on the stories.


Next Step – Food Planning

Once you have taken care of the most important piece of the puzzle, it’s time to move on to the other, smaller ones. Between a whole bunch of less important tasks to take care of, one stood out above all else. The food. At every possible event, weddings, birthday parties, bar mitzvahs, it is the item people remember best. If the food was bad, everyone is going to remember it.

For a sit-down dinner, everyone expects a proper meal. In order for your guests to be able to pay full attention to the program, they can’t spare any time getting annoyed about food. Not having enough of it, having it arrive late, or be in an inadequate state. Nothing ruins a good sob story like rare chicken. Not to mention that inadequate handling of food can lead to poisoning. It would be best to hire a chef and to let them worry about all the intricacies of a good fundraiser menu. That will leave you with more spare time to focus on the tasks only you can handle. Make sure the space is also equipped with fire ducts that will drive all the smell and smoke out, as well as a sprinkler system to stay on the safe side.


Space Should be Comfortable, but Affordable

After the end of the program, your guests should have some free time to mingle with each other, talk to the organisers, as well as interact with the champions of your cause. The venue you choose needs to be able to provide them with just that, even if it means moving from one room to the next. If there is no place for everyone to be comfortable once they get up from their seats, you might be in trouble.

Another thing to have in mind is that you still have a budget constraint. The adequate venue can’t be too pricy; otherwise, every other item will be in jeopardy. Look for a location that represents the values you want to embody where your staff, as well as your guests, will feel comfortable.


Kindness Doesn’t Cost a Thing

As the famous billionaire Mark Cuban recently said – Kindness is one of the most underrated business skills nowadays. And that goes for the non-profits as well. On every possible occasion, and especially when it comes to sit-down dinners for your donors, you need to be kind, polite and understanding. Everyone from your staff as well as all of your waiters, caterers, and the remaining supporting staff needs to be understandable, tolerant and open to constructive communication. Rudeness leaves a mark everywhere and it will definitely leave one during your dinner if you aren’t being careful enough. The last thing you want is for some high-profile donor, who could make a significant contribution to your cause, to leave unsatisfied because of a snarky comment from one of the staff members.


Page last edited May 30, 2019 History

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