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Fundraising - Module 5

Planning a mid-winter dinner  

Mid winter is a good time to get people together for a dinner and raise some funds.
The tips below can be used equally well for a mid –winter lunch or to celebrate any other seasonal festive days.

Lunch or Dinner
  • When making this decision consider the age of your parishioners and any other people you want to invite.
  • Older people and young families often prefer lunch (no transport issues/can bring the children etc).
  • Dinner often works better for working people.
  • Profile who is likely to attend and this will help with determining the timing of your event.
Planning your event
  • Do a budget.
  • This will determine what you need to charge to cover your costs and make some money.
  • Allow enough time to plan your event- this will ensure you have adequate time to promote and prepare for it.
  • Draw up a master plan and allocate tasks. 
  • Ensure there is an overall co-ordinator who is responsible for overseeing the smooth running of the event.
Promoting your event
Think about the ‘channels” you have available to promote your event. These can include:
  • The Sunday notices
  • The parish website
  • Workmates/family/friends 
  • If you ask, friends will often undertake to assist with ticket selling. You can allocate them an achievable number to sell on your behalf.
  • Others who have an interest in your cause outside of the parish
  • Community notice boards and local shops in your parish area
  • Consider your local community paper - you can talk about your project and include information and contact details about your dinner.
Costs to consider
  • The food – do you want to theme your event? 
  • For example; a mid-winter Christmas dinner, a Sunday roast, an ethnic meal etc.
  • Some themed events are cheaper than others to run. Consider the price point for your parish.
  • When you have settled on; a budget, any sponsorship, and a ticket price plan your menu.

The drinks
  • Are you serving alcohol? Ensure this is well supervised especially if younger people are present.
  • Have a good choice of non-alcoholic drinks.
  • Drinks are usually extra to the meal costs i.e. people buy their own, but it is good to include one drink on arrival.

  • Think about who may like to support you from the local community.
  • If you are involving the wider community versus just the parish let your sponsors know when asking them for assistance.
  • Sponsorship can involve the donation of goods or a substantial discount on any goods purchased.
  • This can be particularly helpful in terms of meat and wine etc.
  • Ensure you include your sponsors name(s) on all tickets and promotional materials.

The kitchen facilities
  • Think about the cooking and food storage facilities that are available to you at your chosen venue.
  • You will need to plan your menu with this in mind.
  • For example, it may be easier to whip cream just prior to serving and keep pavlovas cool -close by- versus having them creamed in the fridge and using valuable fridge space.
  • You may need to borrow microwaves to supplement oven space when reheating food.
  • People living close by may be happy to help with any extra oven space and bring the food over prior to serving.
  • Practice good food handling techniques. Follow these links:

  • It’s best to split the tasks so everyone has a great night. People don’t mind helping for a good cause.
  • Draw up a roster with a list of required tasks and go from there to find who you need.
  • Always include a couple of ‘spare’ people to fill any “on the day” roles.

The cooks
  • You will need people who are prepared to cook menu items off site and bring them to the hall etc.
  • Be cost sensitive. You can’t expect people to donate large quantities of food. Offer to reimburse costs –as required- and you may be surprised with the amount of help offered.

The tables
  • You will need people to set up and take down the “dining room”.
  • You may want to decorate the tables or the venue. Include this cost in when planning your budget. 
  • There a number of websites which have good ideas for economical table decorations. Follow the link:
  • You may need to hire glassware, crockery etc depending on what you have available. A simpler less environmentally friendly way is to consider using disposable plates etc. Consider this in your planning/costings if it is a requirement

The waiters
  • You will need a hand to serve, plate, or put out the food. 
  • Your confirmed numbers will determine which is the best way to serve your meal and determine how many people you will require to assist with the above.
  • You may want to use these same people to clear the tables at the end of the function.

The dishes
  • You will need people to wash and clean up.

  • You may want to have some music and dancing for an evening event.
  • There are often people in your local community who are happy to perform, compere etc at no charge.
  • It pays to check out their music etc before engaging them.
  • You may want to have something to entertain the children if it’s a lunch time event. Suggestions include supervised games, a magician etc.

  • A door raffle is an easy way of adding to your funds.
  • You may want to run it locally prior to the evening also.
  • Local business will often supplement your raffle prize.
  • For example, gourmet grocery hampers which include a voucher for a Turkey or ham are good fundraisers at Christmas. You can ask people to contribute grocery items –it is best to provide a list of suggested items- and then top up as required. Pop the items in a basket and wrap in cellophane etc and you have a great looking prize.

  • You may like to consider a small auction between dinner and dessert.
  • Apart from goods you can auction services ranging from baking, gardening, baby sitting, use of a holiday house, to legal services etc.
  • A lively auction adds fun to the event.

  • If you want to make this an annual event it’s good to record what well for next time.
  • What you might do differently.
  • Keep a list of helpers names for next time
  • Make sure you thank your sponsors and your helpers. A hand written note is good letting them know how it went and how much money you raised.
Please let me know your stories and successes and how you got there. I can be contacted by email or call 04 471 8590.

Anne Hannah, August 2011

Download a copy:   Planning a mid-winter parish dinner.     pdf copy.

No reira waiho ko te aroha o Te Matua Kaha Rawa hei korowai mou.
May the love of Almighty God enfold you!