I am a member of a philanthropy group that has hosted several afternoon teas in the past (2011, 2014, 2015) including a holiday fundraiser tea in 2012. The holiday fundraiser tea was the most successful holiday fundraiser in the history of our organization but as an afternoon tea, it was a disaster (NOTE: Don’t ever plan an event with the Carmel Mountain Ranch Country Club. I usually don’t like to give negative reviews but if you read my post about our experience, you will see why). It left such a bad taste in our mouths that we spent the last few years trying to make up for that disastrous tea by catering our own afternoon tea events (we executed everything ourselves from start to finish!) and trying to win back our members’ confidence in the potential for afternoon tea fundraisers. We didn’t charge our members for these “member appreciation” tea events which also doubled as membership drives.
Nonprofit organizations such as Soroptomist International, Zonta International, Junior League, and Friends of the Braille Institute have a history and tradition of hosting successful afternoon tea fundraisers. For our 35th anniversary celebration, we decided to follow in their footsteps and host our first afternoon tea fundraiser. [Stay tuned … I will be blogging all about organizing fundraisers in an upcoming post!]
Still suffering from the embarrassing holiday tea fundraiser of 2012, our early recruiting efforts for the 35th anniversary celebration were dismal. Six months into the planning, we thought we might have to cancel the event. Two weeks before the RSVP deadline, our recruiting efforts paid off and we ended up with 16 tables (8 seats each) for a total of 128 guests (just 30 guests short of our goal)!
Here is a taste of the 16 beautiful table settings at our recent anniversary celebration:
We were so happy and lucky to have our tea catered by Marlene’s Tea & Cakes! Marlene outdid herself with the gorgeous presentation and delicious food. She and her staff did an excellent job with the table service and high praises were heard all around. Needless to say, our first fundraiser afternoon tea was a success in the food and service department and with that, our holiday tea fundraiser faded into distant memory …
In case you were wondering where to buy 3-tier caddies (plate stands), Amazon.com is a good source. I like this one because it’s simple and you can decorate it as you wish. It’s the same as the one in the photo above which has been spray painted gold. Use any 10-11″ sized dinner plate. You can get $1 white or glass plates at the Dollar Tree store that will fit this caddy just fine.
Though our fundraising efforts didn’t pay off as well as we’d hoped, the popularity and success of the overall event was evident when guests and members alike exclaimed that they couldn’t wait for “next year!” When the Tea Committee started planning the 35th anniversary celebration back in March, we knew we wanted to make the event a special one. We did not, however, anticipate making it an annual one! This gave us an incentive to start planning for next year with a focus on our fundraising activities to make it even better!
This event would not have been possible without the vision and contributions of the Tea Committee and Marlene Spawton. Congratulations and thank you for making it such a success!