Uncorking the Success to Fundraising with Wine

Fundraising with wine

It’s official, National Wine Day is May, 25th, but fundraising with wine can take place year round. Whether you are focusing an entire event around wine, or looking to include a few fun wine-themed elements in your already successful fundraiser, there is an exact science to both creating the perfect bottle, and to using this expertly-crafted beverage to raise funds that support your mission.

Wine Event Inspiration intimate wine tasting events can be great donor cultivation opportunities for nonprofit organizaitons

Hosting a wine tasting event can range from a small tasting with light nibbles, to a large party with thousands of guests. The style of the event depends on your goal. Are you hoping to develop a new audience? Are you hoping to steward your existing donors? Do you want to elevate the offerings at your Gala-style event? Some fun event themes/ideas include:

Host an Intimate Tasting Event

Partner with a local winemaker(s) or retail shops to host an intimate tasting event for your top supporters, or as an avenue to reach a new demographic. You can use this as a stewardship event (free) , or raise revenue off of ticket sales, a few special auction packages and a special appeal explaining how donations support your mission.

Host an online fundraiser or auction event open to anyone

Fill the bidding page with wine-themed baskets, wine accessories (glasses, decanters, barrel furniture), cases/bottles of wines donated from your board members’ cellars. Reach out to local wineries for wine tasting certificates or even plan a trip to a local or well-known wine region.

Center your large event around wine

Making it a point to include wine is almost every element of your large Gala-style event. Have wine-themed games and auction packages, an expertly-paired coursed dinner or a special bottle at each table and offer tasting opportunities throughout the event.

Engaging Your Wine Community

Where to find wine for your fundraising event?

There are two sectors of the wine community that would be helpful to tap into – the makers and the lovers! Let’s start with the makers.

Wine Makers

This can include wineries/wine tasting rooms/wine bars/wine retail shops, etc. These are the folks who are great candidates to help you procure top-notch auction items for your event, or even donate to be part of the experience (dinner wine, tasting bar, gifts, etc.)

Tips for Successful Wine Procurement
  • Start early!
  • Be okay with no, understand why they are declining your ask.
  • Build relationships along the way – play the long game. They may not be an item donor today, but if they get to know your mission, they’ll be more open to supporting you.
  • Check online for donation forms, but know a phone call or in person visit will deliver a higher success rate.
  • Learn their craft and teach them about your mission.
  • Timing is everything! The wine industry has busy seasons just like you do. Fall is often harvest time and not a great time to reach out.
  • What’s in it for them? Include information on the demographics that attend your event, maybe they’ll get a future wine-club member out of someone that won their auction item.

Wine Lovers

Now, to the lovers! Those that love all things wine, and are there to fulfill that passion while supporting our mission.

Tips for Audience Development:

Look into local groups/clubs who love wine (Facebook) and share posts about your event.
Ask wineries or wine-bars to help to promote your fundraising event to their audience with emails to their wine-clubs, a poster in their retail shop.

Building Wine Auction Packages (for any event)

Note: Keep in mind outdoor events with hot temps! Wine cannot be in the weather above 80 degrees, so make sure to have great visuals/photos to showcase in case you cannot have the physical bottle on-site.

There are many different ways a wine can be packaged for an ideal auction item or gift basket ideas for raffles. Depending on the value of the wine, it could be a stand alone item, or packaged with similar varetries to increase the value. Some ideas include:

  • Multiple vintages package – showcase the different characteristics the same wine can have each year based on the climate and other annual changes.
  • Regionally focused package – A variety of wines produced from the same region/area to showcase the characteristics of that specific location.
  • Packaged by varietal – A group of wines from different producers that are all made up of the same varietal (type of grape).
  • Packaged by winery – Showcase a specific winery’s current releases or library wines.
  • Large format collection – Magnum bottles can range from 1.5L all the way up to 9L size. These rare collectables are any wine-lover’s dream, and are often of enough value to stand alone in a package.
  • Limited release bottle package – One or more exclusive bottles that were limited release or only available to the wine-club.

Unique Wine Experience Packages

Escape to Sonoma Wine Country Luxury Travel Package from Inspirato for Good
Escape to Sonoma Wine Country with a Luxury Travel Package from Inspirato for Good for your next fundraising event

Putting together other wine-themed packages could include a basket of accessories, pairing with a bottle or two of wine or on their own depending on the value. Some popular wine accessories include decanters, specialty glasses (insulated or high-quality glass), ice buckets, openers, wine barrel furniture, wine-swag from the winery (hats, t-shirts, etc.) and more.

Experiences are what will ultimately bring the bang for your fundraising. Offer a wine tasting experience at a local winery/wine bar or a wine-paired dinner at a local restaurant, plan a staycation to a local wine region with accommodations, multiple tastings and culinary delights, or if budget allows, add a luxury travel package to the most famous wine regions in the world from Sonoma (CA), Oregon or Washington all the way to the Rhône Valley of France to your auction.

Tasting Notes: How to Describe Your Wine

The way in which wine is listed tells the story of the bottle and is respectful to the person who donated this prized possession. Your supporters will also respect the correct listing, making the value speak for itself. The general format is producer, name of the wine, region, vintage. Tasting notes are a great way to further explain the wine beyond the listing. Using websites like wine.com, Wine-Searcher and the winery’s website to describe the aromas and taste of the wine are an added bonus to those who know what they are after when searching for the perfect sip.

Another way to tell the story is through photos or videos posted on your online auction, on posters or a screen at your event, or printed in the catalog. Let people feast their eyes on the bottle itself, the vineyard the wine was made in, the winemaker who created this, or the winery it was produced in.

Wine Games and Revenue Enhancers (for any event)

Wine also makes a great entry point for event attendees to get involved in supporting your mission, without having to spend a fortune in the live auction on a wine region luxury travel package.

Wine Pull or Wall of Wine at your next fundraising event
A wine pull is a captivating auction game addition to your fundraising event that offers attendees the chance to contribute to your cause while also taking home a bottle of wine.

Check out some of our favorites:

  • Wine-pull or wall wine
  • Ring toss with wine bottles
  • Raffles (if allowed in your state, be sure to check online regulations)
  • Wine upgrade at the dinner table
  • VIP Wine Tasting Event (Sign Up Party)
  • Auction off a special bottle of wine in the center of the dinner table
  • Personalized etched bottles as memorabilia

Pop the Bubbles

In closing, while fundraising with wine can be intimidating, it is one of the most popular items at a fundraiser, and can really help to bring your organization’s goals to the next level with the right execution. Start early, do your research, leverage your connections, build relationships and get creative. Cheers!

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