A Wine Tree is an activity at a fundraiser where bottles of wine are donated to be an auction or raffle prize.
In even simpler terms, a Wine Tree is basically a wine potluck to help support a fundraising event by defraying the beverage costs with donations.
The potluck idea is a no-brainer and an economical way to pay for the bar. However, organizing a Wine Tree for a fundraiser prize can be a great moneymaker.
Here are the basics you'll want to know for planning a wine tree fundraiser as well as specific tips to help determine the type of event you'll have - from big money raisers to smaller raffles, wine tree fundraisers are great to raise funds!
Wine Tree Fundraiser Basics
Assuming that all the elements of the event have been taken care of including the location, food and drink, entertainment, and the like, you can narrow your focus on the Wine Tree auction or raffle.
Determine Your Wine Tree Prize
Determine if your Wine Tree is going to be conducted as an auction, raffle, or both. For a crowd with cash, consider giving all bottles donated as one big prize. Or you can categorize donations based on the tips that follow this section in the article.
Designate a Wine Tree Coordinator or Co-Chairs
This team will procure wine, compile literature about the prize, print and organize raffle ticket distribution, collect raffle monies, set up the prize display, coordinate necessary raffle or auction items (i.e. raffle or money box), perhaps man the table at the event or reach out to volunteers, and follow up on prize allocation. Just a few simple tasks!
Get the Word Out!
Follow the usual channels for getting the word out about the Wine Tree prize including printing information on invitations, in newsletters, and email announcements. Of course word of mouth and enthusiasm about the cause always works!
Get the Wine In!
Hit up everyone you can think of for a wine donation. After all, it's for a good cause.
Are there wine or beverage stores in your area? The information sheet, booklet, or a simple tag on the wine bottle will let all know that the store donated to the event and that equals potential business for them.
Don't feel guilty about asking for a donation. Not only can their donation be a potential tax write off, you are publicizing their business by letting all know that they contributed to the cause.
Have a plan for collecting and properly storing all bottles before the actual event date. Perhaps there is a person on the event committee with a restaurant or bar that has a walk in fridge? Maybe a party equipment rental vendor can donate a refrigerator for a week? Don't stick the bottles "on ice" as the labels could get destroyed.
Big Money Wine Tree Fundraising Tips
Here are some great tips to make sure your fundraiser is a success for your charity, while still keeping things fun and exciting.
Since your target winner will probably know a little something about wine, request that donations be above a certain price point. Word your request as "Please contribute bottles that are over $20," or whatever price you decide.
Ask the donors to provide you with tasting notes and a price point for each bottle. Consider compiling the info into a book for people to browse through at the event and entice them into a bid.
Think about how you are going to display the wine at the event. A table display of all or some of the bottles and a wine information sheet or booklet is a must. You could set up a couple of wooden wine crates on end and hang grapes (real or nice fake grapes) from the slats.
To beef up your prize, consider adding donated accoutrement such as wine openers, a wine book, wine charms, wine buckets, or a nice wine rack, which will enhance your auction or raffle display.
Moderate Money Wine Tree Fundraising Tips
Maximize your bottom line by splitting up the wine donations into groups categorized by varietals, price points, regions, or some other creative way that will appeal to your attendees.
See what bottles are donated and group the wine based on what you have received.
Display the wine groups at the event highlighting special bottles and an information sheet about the prize contents in a decorative arrangement with themed accents (i.e. red grapes with red wine bottles).
Here are a few category ideas to get you started:
Red Wine Prize and White Wine Prize - Offer two prizes in a Silent Auction or raffle. One prize will include all the bottles of white wine and the other will be all the bottles of red wine.
Wine by Varietal Prize - If your cup overfloweth with donations, group the bottles by varietals such as Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, etc... Consider the value of each package and whether it would be a good fit for a Silent Auction or a raffle.
Wine by Region Prize - You can go as broad as North American wine or chop up the donations into regions such as Napa Valley or New York's Greatest Hits! Estimate the value of each prize and put a high-priced collection into an auction and something of lesser value into a group of raffle items.
Wine Baskets - Baskets are a favorite Silent Auction item and a good way to package odds and ends that are donated. A wine basket can have a multitude of themes from picnic to romantic dinner to a food and wine lover's basket.
Lower Cost Wine Tree Fundraising Tips
Another easy idea would be to raffle off bottles of wine every 15 minutes or so. This activity is ideal for the Silent Auction hour when people are browsing around the tables or during cocktails. I wouldn't recommend it during dinner, as it would be disruptive or later in the evening when people want to dance and volunteers are wrapping things up.
Sell raffle tickets before the event and at the event itself.
Set up a table at the event with a display of some wine, the raffle box, raffle tickets for sale, and a moneybox that locks.
Coordinate volunteers to man the raffle table.
Make sure you have a P.A. system to make announcements during the event about each raffle drawing and the winners.
Try to give the each bottle away as the winners' names are called. Keep a list of the winners to give the wine prize to those who don't claim them at the event.