Donations.....when a client asks

Discussion in 'Professional Catering' started by shroomgirl, Mar 20, 2006.

  1. shroomgirl

    shroomgirl

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    Last Saturday I went to the Poet Society's fundraiser reading, (David Lehman!) and had been asked to donate food.....now the request came from my best/fav client. There were 2 other caterers preparing food, this event was for 75-100 people....over 100 showed, 5-7pm.

    The table included: Asparagus with white and black sesame seeds, red and green tortilla rollups, room temp crostini with pesto, feta and a sliver of dried tomato cooked on, sausage and meats on skewers......all were easy, low cost. I prepared morel duxelle in fillo tarts (warm) and choc truffles (bought, ran out of time and didn't make the mex. marshmallows).

    There are only a few things I donate time/product to, most involve culinary education. So, what do you provide when a client asks for donations? And what causes do you support with time/product?
    Just curious.

    Oh yeah, what I thought would be a staid evening was a laugh riot.....this guy's work was hilarious.
     
  2. panini

    panini

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    Shroom,
    We deal with this almost everyday in retail. Many years ago we decided to focus our attention on one organization each year. For the last couple of years though we have supported The Ronald McDonald House. It makes it a lot easier to say no to someone especially if you feel compelled to give. We always explain our position and request information on the organization they are with for consideration for the next year. It is also much more rewarding to be able to support something in a big way instead of spreading it all over.
    Just the way we do it. We donate to all the local stuff and auctions but we feel that is more advertising then anything else.
    pan
    PS Don't know why, but I file mailed requests for donations in the C.file. And honor most walk-ins
     
  3. chef mike

    chef mike

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    I donate packages to be auctioned at the Chef For Kids gala in the spring; the buyer has all year to use it. That's our local ACF chapter's break-off from the Chef and the Child Foundation, which is national. I always have a booth at the Taste of the Nation at the convention center- it's a big grazer with about 50 local restaurants participating; big support from the local wine brokerage. They support Share Our Strength and all the local food banks, as well as an adult literacy program. Lots of big corporate sponsorship, too.
    These are both good PR.
    I often donate a lunch for 4, or small ho'do' service for people like Nevada Child Seekers, or Secretary's day at Chamber of Commerce. Usually I tell them to make up the "certificate" and send me a copy of it.
    My experience with these things, strangely enough, is that they often don't get used; I don't know if people lose them, or just never find the occasion (like we save a fine bottle of something, waiting for the "right" time).
    I generally give the churches a break on price, or throw in something extra. I've found that a simple dinner at the Baptist church, or local parish, will often yield more referral business than some of those high profile, big time, V.I.P., high-roller muckety-muck events that tell me, "This is gonna be great exposure for you."
    For years, I did the annual Lutheran's Oktoberfest (one of my favorite menus)
    and only charged for my actual costs. I usually talked an employee or two, and my family (we're not even members) and some friends to help with the work. It was a lot of work, and sometimes the commitment would get in the way of accepting profitable events. After a while, it seemed like the demands were greater, and there were fewer of them doing any work, so that sort of faded away.
    I've loaned equipment, donated cakes for the "cakewalk", things like that.
    For a fraternal, like the Police Protective or something, I might not actually give anything away, but help them as much as possible with advice, planning,
    coordinating and a good price break on what I may be providing.

    That sounded like a real nice effort for the Poetry event, shroom.
     
  4. shroomgirl

    shroomgirl

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    Interesting you would say that you don't get biz from big time events.....I've found that to be true too. 99% of my biz is from referrals. I do participate in the James Beard Picnic every Fall, it's just fun to connect and see everyone....also great eats.

    I'll give away local peach ice cream for my birthday.....Ice Cream Day at the market, just seems like a fun thing to do and only costs $300-350.

    I like to cross promote, if I'm giving something away it'll be a basket from the market with producer products....or pies for the fire dept, police and city maintenance guys.

    The Ronald McDonald House is a great benefit for families who need it.....did not work for me though, I made dinner....hot dogs with natural casing, rice stick salad with veg/chicken, watermelon, green salad, roasted veg.......Everyone wanted the hotdogs and watermelon. Pan I agree with you, it feels better to make a difference to one group than to spread everything thinnly.

    I've got friends that don't know where the monies from events they participate go......their buddies ask and they show up with food.
     
  5. ricib

    ricib

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    Not sure if it's the same you are asking about shroomgirl, but two days every month I bake and bake and bake until I fall asleep, for A Soldiers Wishlist. That's pretty much the extent of me donating my time and work. Incidentally, yes, I pay for the ingredients too, so it's never any money out of their pocket. They get quite a bargain, and I get recognition throughout the world, literally. Even if they only know me as that guy who bakes for us, you know the "Cookie guy"... It's all worth it in the end.
     
  6. shroomgirl

    shroomgirl

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    Sure, ricib that's wonderful! What a thoughtful contribution. caterers, restaurants, wineries all get hit up for donations....picking and choosing what you'll contribute to is an interesting process. I agree with Pan about making an impact with one group rather than sprinkling it around.
    My youngest child has autism and it was interesting to see where/what fundage was available for parents with children that have severe profound disabilities. It wasn't pretty....and most services where generic not individually based.

    The base of my donating time, expertise, supplies is culinary education using local products....cooking classes with farmers, chefs and registered dieticians.
    teaching advanced culinary camp to middle schoolers, hosting Heirloom tomato cooking contests....a narrowed bigger impact than participating in various charity fundraisers as just one of the multitude. Or to things I'm not passionate about....
    It's important to me to be on various boards that affect "small farm sustainable ag"....in legislation. And I REALLY don't like hanging around politicians at all. I've been around long enough to know where resources are located....

    Choosing groups to belong to is another but similar topic...why you belong to a group says alot about you and your business.

    It's just something I've had to think about alot recently and thus the post.....
     
  7. jennykhughes

    jennykhughes

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    I donate time/food to our Local chapter of ASH, Harvest Texarkana. Organizing fundraising dinners and auctions and the like. It feels incredible to actually see your efforts go back into your local families. I get to see more of my efforts when I focus on only one organization.

    I have made some great local business contacts this way, too.

    I agree that exposure and word-of-mouth referrals from being involved in the things you are passionate about tend to be the more profitable in the long run anyway. Strictly social events, I've found, don't generate very much business.