Using Food to Set First & Last Impressions at Your Event

First and last impressions matter, especially when asking donors for their support.

At a fundraising event guests expect to see the best from your non-profit as soon as they check-in, and during checkout you have one last opportunity to create a positive image of your organization—something that not only affects the outcome of that fundraiser, but also how your guests respond to future requests for funding.

Take full advantage of these parts of your program by providing great tasting treats for your guests to enjoy. Not only will it distract from the chaos that can surround those processing points, it will also give you a great head start on making the right first and last impressions for your organization. Here are a few ideas to get you started planning:

It’s a Party!

Reflect the theme of the night with ingredients and presentations that underscore your mission. A non-profit that benefits children could incorporate a miniature playground into their table displays, or choose foods that play into the nights activities, such as regional dishes for a cultural heritage fundraiser.

Finger Foods and Fun Conversation

Cultivate conversation, rather than chaos at check-in, with offerings that encourage mingling among your guests. Easily held finger foods allow guests to move around and shake hands while enjoying a plate of tasty appetizers. Try toasted crostini topped with salmon, cream cheese and a spring of dill or chicken satay skewers for an evening affair, or fun mini corn-dogs and a selection of craft beers for a more casual after work event.

Morning, Noon, and Night

The timing of your event plays into your food choices. Offer pastries, fruit, and quiches for a bright and early event; tea sandwiches and crudités for lunch; and more substantial appetizers for an evening occasion. Options like these set the stage for your guests to enjoy themselves as they take time out from their day to support your cause.

Capitalize on the Moment


Sponsorship opportunities abound during check-in and checkout! Offer your corporate supporters an opportunity to greet your guests with a beautiful array of appetizers; or send them off with a package of products they can take home. Display their brand on tables and gift bags and give them a shout out during the program.

Every part of your event tells a bit more about your non-profit’s mission and solidifies the impressions your donors. The great tasting treats you serve at check-in and checkout will offer a sensory experience your guests will remember long after you’ve closed the books on another successful fundraiser.

Tips to Get You Started Planning Your Menus

  • Create an interesting tablescape, with big focal points and beautiful arrangements
  • Offer food options that will create a balanced plate
  • Avoid common food allergy ingredients
  • Create fun event-themed drink names
  • Promote local producers and grocers


Share your thoughts