Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Another charity wine tasting? woo. hoo.

First and foremost, it's of paramount importance for everyone that has resources, whether they are time, financial, or other, to give back to their community. Get involved in organizations. Sit on the board at least once in your life. Community service is a great way to exercise your skills for a good cause. Believe in a worthy cause, and put significant energy towards making that cause as much money as possible.

We are well into the season of the year in which Wine Galas abound. Each year, countless charity organizations decide that the best way to raise money is to host a wine tasting extravaganza. Make people feel like their $50-$500 ticket is worth it because of all of the awesome food and wine. Consumers pay the money, come taste the wines, and everybody is happy. Right? Well, not really. What is happening is these events are not only losing their caché because there are so darn many of them that they all blur together, but the supplier of the wines are starting to lose enthusiasm quickly because there are a dozen requests or more per year. The resulting donations end up being last years samples at best. The more events the more you need to say no. The more duplicate events, the worse it gets. I have been personally involved in planning several of these events, and it's always the same thing. The organizers of these events simply assume that the mere forum to taste this broad array of wines is a great way to promote one's products, and ultimately result in recognition and retail sales. this does not happen. In addition to the charity landscape sucking ass right now, no one has been able to reinvent the wheel.

I have a solution, sort of. The 2 battles that each of these events is fighting are originality/ differentiation and enthusiasm from the organizers and participants. It's time to change the format of these events. The reboot is long overdue, and as the economy is transitioning, it's time to differentiate from the crowded event landscape. Here are my suggestions of how to elevate your game:

1) Pick a new time of the year-Oct-Dec is so crowded, it's impossible to thrive
2) Pick a new venue. -No more Hotels or convention centers. Get creative. Outdoors is an awfully good place to start.
3) Pick a new format-Just because people are getting finger food and glasses of wine doesn't mean that they don't feel like cattle.
4) Act like a business. People want to help, but you're competing against other charities. You can't sell one cause over another, but you can sell them on what is beneficial for the people participating. Find out what would make them excited and want to participate, and don't assume restaurateurs and wine people will want to sit on a board. you need to go get the answer from them. Make it worthwhile
5) After someone says yes, stop asking for more-This is a huge turn off. If someone will come to an event, and stand there for 3 hours and pour wine at their expense, it's unfair to ask them to for more product. You'll inevitably get crap anyways.
6) When asking for donations, ask for something specific-sometimes the hardest thing is not deciding if to donate, but what to donate.
7) Make your event original and able to withstand the "elevator pitch" test, this is how you spread word of mouth for next year.
8) Always build towards next year. Better enthusiasm, will result in better word of moth, ticket sales and participation.


  1. To start with I would like to congratulate the cradores of this blog, mainly because when I read it I enjoyed it very much. A few years ago I attended a conference called guanacaste costa rica real estate, at that conference had many interesting topics. Perhaps readers may find no relationship between the blog and this conference, but if someday can attend, would realize that there is much to do with this blog.