ED-logo-greenFundraising is about more than getting people to open their pocketbooks. It’s also (maybe more importantly) about building support and loyalty for your organization and your mission. An Earth Dinner is a wonderful way to educate through personal stories and connection while giving your followers a meaningful, memorable experience at the same time.

Earth Dinner fundraisers can take many forms and we’ll go over a few of them here. This is by no means an exhaustive list, so be creative! The only requirements are to use as many local, seasonal and organic ingredients as possible, know the story behind your food, and inspire meaningful conversation about food, farming and our connection to the planet. These qualities can be applied to so many types of activities.

1) Bake Sale: Encourage all bakers to use local, seasonal and organic ingredients where possible. Create small signs to tell the buyer the ingredients and a little story behind the food, such as where the recipe came from or about a farmer who provided any of the ingredients.

2) Social hour: Have finger-foods made with local, seasonal and organic ingredients where possible and scatter conversation-starters around the room for folks to use as they please. Casual, friendly, inviting and fun!

3) Speaker event: Choose a local farmer or food-related business or non-profit leader to speak about food and/or farming issues. Encourage a Q&A or conversation session afterward.

TM speaking to 2008 staff ED_web size

4) “Restaurant Week”: Ask local restaurants to offer an Earth Dinner menu or menu item for a day to a week and then donate a portion of the proceeds to your organization. Educate wait staff to speak to guests about what an Earth Dinner is and what the proceeds will benefit.

5) Breakfast: Community breakfasts are popular around the Midwest and South. Schedule them during slow times, like winter, when people just want to get out of the house, or around other community events, like fairs, when lots of people will be in your area.

ed-info6) Sit-Down Meal: Use Earth Dinner decks or conversation questions at the tables to inspire conversation among guests. Let them peruse the questions as they wish, or provide a focus question for each course. Keynote speakers are not necessary unless desired, as conversation is the focus for the evening. Ask the chef to speak about the food, and have each table share a special memory or conversation before concluding the event.

Before getting started, consult your town or state’s food safety regulations regarding selling food or charging admission to a meal if you will be providing the food yourself (if you’re using a caterer, you won’t have to worry about this).

Registered 501(c)3 non-profit organizations are eligible to receive a Raffle/Silent Auction Kit from Organic Valley. The kit contains 52 coupons, each good for one free OrganicValley product. Submit a request online here.

Download a Sample Earth Dinner Planning Checklist, customizable publicity resources and conversation questions on the Earth Dinner homepage to get started!