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Taste of Success

A wine tasting party held by the Millburn (N.J.) High School Fifth Quarter Football Booster Club brought the football parents closer together while raising money for the program. 

When the Millburn (N.J.) High School Fifth Quarter Football Booster Club held an event to foster community amongst football parents, the first attempt was such a hit that the club decided to turn it into a fundraiser. Held in October, the second annual Wine Tasting Party drew 63 people and raised $2,000.

During the three-hour event, attendees could try six different kinds of wine and a single malt scotch while enjoying finger foods, desserts, and coffee. They could also browse 21 raffle baskets filled with themed contents that totaled from $75 to $200.  Live entertainment was provided by a local musician whose son is a member of the football team. Before concluding the event, door prizes were given, and the raffle winners drawn.

Planning the party took about six weeks, with the work split between four people. "We had one person communicate with the restaurant, one person to organize the wine and permits, and two others to gather raffle prizes and promote the fundraiser," says event promoter Melissa Simon. "It took a very minimal amount of time--the key was to not micromanage. By letting everyone do their own jobs, it all came together smoothly. Everyone knew what to do and how long it would take."

The event was held at a local restaurant that currently sponsors the football program and provided the food and coffee to the club at a discounted rate of $10 per person. The $30 tickets--sold in advance and at the door--included wine, finger foods, and desserts. A local liquor store donated the wine and arranged for the permits the restaurant would need to hold a fundraising "BYOB" event.

Once the date was set, Simon sent an e-mail to families of football players from fourth grade through high school asking them to hold the date for the event. When all of the details were finalized, fliers were created and posted in local businesses and ads were placed in the local newspaper. "Then we sent e-blasts," she says. "Those went out once a week, starting about four weeks in advance, up until the day before the event."

The most important part of the publicity, Simon believes, is to create interest and let word of mouth take-off. "Talk it up," she says. "Talk about it way in advance, to stir up a 'buzz' about it."



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