Orlando Food Bank Finds Success With Prepackaged Fund-Raiser

By Mitra Sorrells April 26, 2011, 9:50 AM EDT

Photo: BizBash

Second Harvest Food Bank's Wine, Women, and Shoes Event
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When leaders of the Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida started thinking about launching a new fund-raiser, they opted to buy into a prepackaged program offered by a Sonoma, California company, rather than create a new event from scratch. Wine, Women, and Shoes is the large-scale equivalent of a party-in-a-box, and Saturday’s event at the Royal Plaza hotel netted more than $80,000 for the food bank with relatively little effort.
“This was totally plug-and-play. They do these all over the country, so every mistake has already been made, and we knew the do's and don’ts up front,” said the food bank’s development manager, Sasha Hausman. “And they were there for consult every step of the way, which was so important for us.”

The food bank paid an undisclosed fee to buy into the Wine, Women, and Shoes program. As part of the arrangement, the corporate office for the fund-raiser created an event Web site, helping with marketing; provided auction items, logos, and signage; lined up six wineries to provide tastings and sell wine; and also supplied some of the boutiques that participated in the event. The food bank provided staff for the event, lined up additional vendors and auction items, solicited sponsorships from area businesses, and recruited 20 local men to serve as roaming “Shoe Guys” who displayed the vendors’ merchandise on silver platters.  

The food bank’s vice president of development, Greg Higgerson, said his organization had heard about the success of a Wine, Women, and Shoes fund-raiser in Sarasota and decided it was the ideal event to raise awareness of the nonprofit among an important demographic. “These women are in a perfect situation in terms of their means and their inclination to help others. So it’s going to create awareness of our mission with some well-targeted folks for the future and hopefully build some long-term relationships for us,” he said.

More than 300 attendees spent several hours in the hotel’s ballroom, shopping from vendors selling shoes, jewelry, purses, and other items. Each of the 11 participating boutiques donated 20 percent of their revenue to the food bank, while the wineries donated 10 percent of wine sales. The food bank also received all of the proceeds from the 175 silent and 11 live auction items. Hausman said they raised $80,000 from sponsorships, ticket sales, the live auction, and the raffle. She is still gathering figures from the silent auction and vendor sales.

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