Holding a spaghetti dinner fundraiser is perhaps the easiest way to generate income for a good cause. The concept is simple: 1) get the word out, 2) sell tickets, 3) make spaghetti, and 4) make more money at the event. It’s number four where over-the-top success can really be achieved.  
You can certainly make money by just selling dinners. But why stop there? You have a room full of people eating, having a good time. Make it even more fun with extra fundraising opportunities.
With a little planning, imagination and execution, a spaghetti dinner fundraiser can be fun and financially successful.
Planning
Have a brainstorming session with your team. Your team may be 20 people or just two. It may even be just you. We hope not because that will make it tough. Anyway, start by asking the big questions. Encourage all and any ideas. Write them down.

What skill does each team member bring to the table? What kind of contacts does each person have access to?

Spaghetti Dinner Fundraiser Idea

Maybe there’s someone with a friend at a radio station or newspaper. Does anyone belong to a church?

What are your monetary goals? How much do you plan to sell dinners for? How many do you need to sell to meet your goals?

Do you expect kids and seniors to attend? How about college students? Military personal?

Will you offer salads, dessert, bread, ice tea, coffee, soda?

How will people find out about your dinner?

How else besides the ticket price can you raise money with your captive audience?

Once you have at least broad answers to these questions, give everyone their task with a timeframe for completion. Depending on the size of team, you may want to have committees: Promotion, procurement (buying the food), food prep, entertainment, etc.

You’ll probably want to set several follow-up dates somewhere between Day 1 and half way to the scheduled day; then a final day a week before. This will insure there are no major roadblocks and it will give you time for contingencies.

 

Ticket Prices
A quick internet search reveals the average price for adult tickets is about $8. Kids are $4 and seniors, military and college students are somewhere in between. Keep in mind that the proceeds from dinner sales are only part of the fundraising equation. Keeping the price low enough will insure you have plenty of folks in seats which is the main goal.

Publicity
This is one of the most important aspects of a successful fundraiser. You need to folks to buy tickets. More people equal more ticket sales and more opportunities for additional fundraising at the event.

Start with a press release. This will communicate the who, why, what, where, when, how much of your event.

Go to local radio stations, newspapers, TV stations and any small free publication that circulates in your town. They will usually give non-profits free “space” to advertise the event.

If there is a human interest story involved with the fundraiser, the media will probably be interested in running a story, giving your event more exposure.

Use the power of the web. With over 600 million users, Facebook is a great way to reach more people. Have each team member post something on their Facebook “walls” about the event. Out-of-town friends probably won’t attend but maybe they’ll send a donation.

Check your employer’s solicitation policies. Can send a mass email out to your co-workers? Hang a flyer in the break room? Place an ad in the company newsletter?

However you advertise speak to people’s emotions. Not in a fake or dishonest way, but tell them a story. The story of why you’re raising money. People like honest stories that speak to them.

Show Time
You’ve sold tickets, you have a captive audience, and now is when all your planning will pay dividends. And when the fun begins….

Emcee
If you can find a local celebrity emcee to keep the evening lively and to communicate the dinner’s goals and donation opportunities, you’re on your way to success. TV and radio personalities are great at this because of their speaking comfort. So are local civic leaders.

Donation Stations
Place decorative boxes or milk jugs throughout the room. Always have one next to the cashier. Encourage any amount even spare change. Donating by check? Make sure they know who to make it out to.

Silent Auctions
Here’s where the planning pays off. Get local businesses to donate items to be auctioned. They can be products or services. Who wouldn’t want a day at the spa? Dinner for two? How about a 2-night hotel stay?

Tape a bidding sheet next to a colorful description of each item. Monitor these sheets throughout the event. If a sheet has no bidders, you can start the bid. Seeing interest, this may encourage others to bid.

Raffles
Have your friendliest team member go around and sell raffle tickets. Don’t be pushy but ask everyone at least once. Raffle the nicest item you received as a donation. You can also raffle half the raffle proceeds—the other half going to the cause.

Wine Tasting
Spaghetti and wine: A perfect combination. Is there a local vineyard who would donate wine? If not, try a liquor store. Sell drink tickets (2 for $10).

Summary

With careful planning, you’re halfway to success. Then it’s only a matter of keeping the evening entertaining for the guests. Think of it like a party with a goal. If your guests are having a good time they’re more likely to open their wallets for the cause.