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How to Host a Fundraising Dinner in Your Home

My husband and I share the spiritual gift of hospitality. We love hosting and serving our community by creating a secondary home of belonging, grace, truth and God’s love. Yet, we also feel called to serve the community at large. And so we thought, how could we possibly combine our heart for hosting and our heart to give back? The answer: an intimate fundraising dinner in our home! I’ll admit we were a bit nervous to do something outside of our comfort zone but we knew it was the right next thing to do.

Most nonprofits are in need of financial support so, they meet the need by hosting large fundraisers that are usually attended by people over the age of 45. For our Millennial generation, my husband and I knew we needed to engage our friends in a different, less stuffy way while also, demonstrating the importance of giving back. The small gathering seemed like a great fit for us and met a need many local nonprofits are searching for.

THE PURPOSE

As a community of believers, we are called to serve and give back to those in need. We often spend time with out friends just “hanging out” or “chilling” which isn’t always bad. But what if our friend time was also an opportunity to meet a local need? When we gather together, we are equipping, strengthening and encouraging one another to serve the Lord by serving others.

When we gather to do good, we share the love of Jesus with our communities and bring glory to God. 1 Peter 4:10a-11b reiterates this characteristic of community on mission: “As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace… in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ.”

CHOOSE A CHARITY

For our dinner, we chose a local nonprofit that we knew very little about. I was friends with one of the staff members and decided we’d like to get to know the organization better and bless their cause.

We recommend using a local organization because you can invite some of the staff to attend the dinner to provide an intimate setting for Q and A. Maybe it’s an organization you’ve volunteered with for years or one you’ve been curious about. I doubt any nonprofit will turn down an opportunity to get their information to the community and receive a donation.

THE INVITATION

The invite doesn’t have to be fancy, but it can be a bit more formal. We created a nice pdf (see picture) and texted it to friends. Some formality with a nod to our Millennial methods of spreading the word.

fundraising invite

On the invite we included:

  • Information about the nonprofit
  • Why we wanted friends to join us
  • What they could expect from the evening
  • Donation amount to attend

We invited ten folks from a variety of circles: co-workers, neighbors, small group friends. We tried to ask people who we felt would enjoy this type of gathering and/or had shown interest in the specific cause before.

GIVING BACK

Tim and I wanted to use our gift of hospitality to not only provide a space for a nonprofit to give their information but also, for them to receive a donation. We thought it was best to ask for a donation to attend the dinner ahead of time so there was no uncomfortable “ask” at the meal. Because it was a smaller gathering versus a large public event, we wanted our friends to feel comfortable all evening without the intimidation of giving right on the spot. These days, nonprofits have online donations so we sent over the information to our friends for donating.

It’s kind of scary to ask your friends to consider giving so carefully consider how much you’ll ask and what you are providing in return.

THE DINNER PARTY

Tim and I’s donation was the cost of the dinner. Since, we were asking for a donation we wanted to have a formal dinner. We used cloth napkins and made a fancy cocktail for the dinner.

We had the meal catered (mostly because I do not trust myself to make a nice dinner) and we found a reasonable caterer that was happy to provide a discount when he heard what we were doing. There are always folks who find joy in giving back and are eager to help out.

STRUCTURE

We began our evening by introducing our friends to our guests of honor, the nonprofit staff members. During dinner we kept things fairly casual. And asked our guests how they got involved with this work. As host, think of some intentional questions that everyone could respond to and make sure to let everyone go around and share their name and what they hope to learn from the evening.

After dinner we gathered around the couch to hear about the nonprofit’s work and how people could serve, pray or give to the organization. We closed with Q and A and a prayer over the organization’s needs and the staff’s endurance in their ministry.

PARTING GIFT

We had an additional nonprofit who was aligned with the same cause provide a little gift for each guest—a small scented candle. The gift brought awareness to another organization doing the same thing but approaching the cause in a different way. It also provided just another thanks for our friends’ time and support.

LET’S GATHER TO DO GOOD

The evening was beyond Tim and I’s expectations. God made situations I thought might be awkward completely natural. He blessed the conversation. He blessed our gifts. He blessed the nonprofit who felt so encouraged and motivated to continue their work. But mostly God reminded us that He uses us to serve Him by meeting the needs of others. We hope to find more creative ways to do good together.

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8 Comments

  • Reply Shanique

    This is awesome and oh so detailed!

    I loved the creative approach you and your husband took and would totally do this.

    Thanks for showing us an example of what your invite looked like, it’s a great reference.

    You alluded to it a bit in your article that the evening turned out way better than you imagined as situations that you thought would be awkward turned out to be completely natural. My question to you, for someone that’s extremely reserved, what advice would you give re hosting and keeping conversations flowing for an event like this?

    Friday, January 12, 2018 at 5:10pm
    • Reply Bailey

      Think of your questions ahead of time! It may seem forced but you’ll be happy when the conversation starts to die down.

      Friday, January 12, 2018 at 7:07pm
  • Reply Nancy E. head

    What a great idea! Our local crisis pregnancy centers do a big dinner every year. Several small dinners like this one could be a big boost and garner volunteers too! God bless!

    Friday, January 12, 2018 at 6:25am
    • Reply Bailey

      Absolutely! It is a great way to get volunteers and their friends included.

      Friday, January 12, 2018 at 7:05pm
  • Reply Dustin Renz

    This is awesome. My wife and I have a heart for helping missionaries and other Christian causes, but I have never thought of doing it this way. I can see this approach working very well in our sphere of influence. Thank you for providing detailed information that we could use. The simple how-to format made it seem very practical and easy to execute. We will be doing this!

    Thursday, January 11, 2018 at 10:35am
    • Reply Bailey

      I am so encouraged to hear that you and your wife had had nudges to do this in the past. Hope this gives you the extra push to DO IT!

      Thursday, January 11, 2018 at 10:38am
  • Reply Edna Davidsen

    Hi Bailey!

    “How to Host a Fundraising Dinner in Your Home” was an excellent contribution to the Christian community about community life.

    It’s great that there are people like you and Tim who use the spiritual gift of hospitality.

    You wrote:

    “Most nonprofits are in need of financial support . . .”

    I agree that’s why it’s so wonderful that people with your approach exist.

    The nonprofits organisations do a good job following their purpose.

    Unfortunately, they often lack the knowledge about how to raise money.

    Your expression »demonstrating the importance of giving back« says it pretty well.

    Your blog post is relevant because it emphasises the role and responsibility we have to interact with contemporary culture.

    Peter 4:10-11 is one of the wonderful Bible verses because it’s focus is service instead of the “what’s in it for me approach”.

    Fundraising plays a much more prominent role in the United States of America than it does in North Europe because of cultural differences.

    My favourite part of this particular blog post was the example of how the invitation can look like.

    I have a question: Next time you’ll host such a Fundraising dinner, would there be anything you’d do differently?

    Right on my way to share on Twitter.

    Blessings!
    Edna Davidsen

    Thursday, January 11, 2018 at 7:33am
    • Reply Bailey Taylor Hurley

      Ooo that’s such a great last question. Something I’d do differently is being more intentional during the meal time and encouraging a dialogue. I’d also consider a cocktail party that’s again relaxed but invite maybe 25-30 people and only do drinks and appetizers and have a “larger” casual event

      Thursday, January 11, 2018 at 7:52am

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