Ask the guy organizing a charity tea event!

<Moderator approved thread about a charity event>
To quote cromulent:

I occasionally organize charity events. Right now, I’m working on an “English” style Tea that will benefit a local organic food garden. We’re going to serve sandwiches, scones, pastries, and, of course, tea. (I put “English” in quotes, because we don’t really try to be authentic…just close enough to please our target market.)

Basically, a local church in a poor neighborhood had a large plot of land, and decided to turn it into a garden. People in area have individual plots. We also have an area to grow large amounts of food, which we donate to our local food pantries. We even had a homeless guy maintaining a plot, so he could grow his own food.

This thread is not about trying to get donations to the garden…but it is about the process of designing, planning, and executing a charity event. It’s a lot of work, but I find it very rewarding.

So…any questions?


Are you able to use any of the garden grown food in the food for the event? Or is that the plan in the future? Are you going the full porcelein and bone china route?

We’ll have some garden food - banana bread and other vegetable bread will be with garden ingredients, and we may do a lemon grass iced tea.

The garden is really only about two years old, so most of other fruits are not in mass production mode yet. That means I can’t use them in the pastries, although I try to be in the spirit of things we grow.

We also have bee hives at the garden - the bees help with pollination, and produce very good honey. We’ll have some honey out for people who like it in their tea, and also have some available as a thank you gift for people donating over a certain level.

Last year we used very nice china - the church has about 70 serving sets of china, and we have another church that lends us theirs to supplement.

It helps create a nice atmosphere…eating pastries, sipping tea…sitting in a garden a block away from I-95. It’s our little oasis.

Are you going to tell us where it’s at in case we want to stop by and be all hoity toity? I’ll bring my bowlers hat.

Sure! It’s in South Florida. If you’re in the area, PM me and I’ll tell you more.

Um…**twickster **told me I can name the charity, but I didn’t ask about posting a direct link.

The official name is the Second Annual Tea in the Garden. It benefits The Fruitful Field.

Of course, if anyone does want to show up…probably best to let me know anyway. No one there knows me as D/a. :stuck_out_tongue:

Feel free to post a link.


I think it sounds like a fantastically fun event. I hope it does well.


Right now, we just have a “Save the Date” placeholder on the blog.

Pictures from last year can be seen from our Flickrstream.

You can roam around either link to get a little more information.

More tea, vicar? :smiley:

Will the tea be made John Lennon-style or will you use theHitchens/Orwell method?

I’m hoping that doesn’t come into play…but it is an outdoor event, in a garden, near a major interstate. Maybe no one will notice :stuck_out_tongue:

We don’t have many options. We will have a large “urn” of hot water, and a select of tea bags. People will be grabbing their favorite tea, and add water…or the other way around.

We will have one station with really hot - boiling, even, water…it’s a camping stove, with a sturdy kettle holding water. It’s for the more rustic look, and will be stashed in a different part of the Garden, to encourage guests to wander around.

Although I do have to say…I’ve heard many tea people claim that you don’t want the water to be boiling…and that each tea is a little different with respect to the right temperature. That being said, I expect everyone to use not quite boiling water, and to throw a random tea bag in afterwards. I want to do loose leaf tea, like I do at home, but it becomes tricky to do en-mass.

Good on you!!!

I also organize charity events for very different groups (motorcycle rallies for the troops and dinners for animal rescue). One thing I’ve found in common is that people LOVE raffles. They will happily spend a dollar for a ticket to win something like some homemade dog cookies, or a model of a motorcycle made out of nuts and bolts. I’d guess that a big jar of that honey would sell a lot of raffle tickets.

Another thing I’ve learned is that people are happy to bring items. For the animal rescue events, I ask that people bring pet food or old blankets. For the troops, I offer up a list of items that would be helpful. I never say that its required, but people always seem to show up with things along with the entry fee. For your event, I’d suggest that you suggest that people bring food to donate.

Good luck with your event. You are right, it is a lot of work, and the jitters when it’s actually “show time” are crazy, but its such a good feeling to see everyone enjoying themselves and its an even better feeling to see how generous people can be, even with the current hard times.

I’ll watch this thread to see any other advice that might be forthcoming.

Thanks, flatlined.

We talked about doing a raffle. The church we are associated with is careful about anything close to gambling, and they wouldn’t approve it. :frowning: I agree tough…it’s a great way to raise funds.

I’m a huge fan of running food drives at events. I have a friend who throws a huge crawfish party every year, and I convinced him to ask for canned food donations too. It’s easy, and makes a big difference in the local community. It’s a simple WIN. Anywhere there’s a crowd…there’s an opportunity.

The jitters for me start when we open up registration. It’s the “will people actually show up” thoughts that get to me. I’m a pretty organized person when I want to be, and I end up having event logistics planned pretty well. By the dayof the event, I know what’s going to happen in most circumstances. But until I see enough people register, I worry that we won’t meet costs.

Luckily, we have a few big ticket donors that I can count on…they really appreciate the effort we put in for the event, and make sure it’s worth it financially. :slight_smile:

Too bad about not being able to do raffles. I guess that rules out the ever popular 50/50 drawing.

Do you sell T-Shirts at the Tea Party? Those are something that give me fits every event. People love them and buy them, but how many of what sizes should I have made? I started off getting an even split (same number of small, mediem, large, X-large and XX-large), but that didn’t seem to work. Then I started going by the last event, which didn’t work either. Now, I drink a couple of beers and then flip coins, which seems to work as well as anything. If you do sell them, what do you do with the left over ones?

Are you able to use volunteers to make the food? Do you have to get a food service permit?

Do you rent tables, or do you borrow them. I’ve been borrowing them, but its really a chore to return them.

How many people are you expecting and when do you start pre-selling tickets? How do you get the word out?

I hope you have a smashing event, collect lots of food and make tons of money!!

Those cakes looked fantastic.

Will there be a lovely spread? And will it include cucumber sandwiches?

Is there a trifle in all this? And will you have a cake stand?

If you’re having scones, I suggest to be proper English like, to pronounce it like the word “gone”, with a scone there must be butter, then jam, then thick whipped double cream or full fat cream plonked on top. Personal preference, course.

Also I suggest that the water is boiled when having tea.

Hope everyone has a good time! :slight_smile:

I wish I could come help. I’m a baker by profession, it’s not just my username, and we’ve done a number of themed teas.

Tough about the raffle. I don’t suppose pointing out that lots were tossed by some of those Old Testament guys, to decide things, would help!:stuck_out_tongue:

The cafe I work in started, just last year, a garden to grow fresh herbs and a few veggies for our product.

(Long post…responses to flatlined, Acorns…but not Bacon, and Baker.)

We’ll be selling shirts this year…but I’m not really involved. We have generic garden shirts that we sold at another event…I’m not involved in that one. They ran out of some of them, and not others…so we have a little baseline. I fully expect to have too many of some and not of others. We’re lucky to have a core committee member who owns a print shop. He doesn’t do shirts, but a friend of his does…so we get a good deal. I suspect your plan (drink and flip) is a useful as any other.

No food service permit needed. We have some church members who will make various banana/etc bread. I’ll make most of the scones and pastries, and maybe some other desserts. My Mom will make some scones, and another committee member will make the gluten free scones. I never use all my vacation days at work…so I’m going to spend two on the Thursday/Friday before the Tea and spend them in the kitchen.

Again, the joy of Church work. :slight_smile: <Odd thing for an atheist to say, 'eh?>
The Church has a few dozen tables, and lots of folding chairs. We’ll probably use them…although they are the long banquet type. We’d like to have some round tables to make a cozier environment. If we do that, they’ll be borrowed. I’m not sure what we’ll have to do for logistics.

Last year we had ~45 people…but it was almost a rain-out. We expect closer to 100 this year. We’re already sending out Save-The-Date messages. Tickets will be on sale officially by the end of January, giving us about one full month of real sales.

Well, there’s this thread on SDMB… Ok…seriously, we have a mailing list of about 300 people who have come to the garden to volunteer. We have a network of Churches that will list us in their bulletins. There are a few organic gardens and co-ops in the area that we have relationships with…they’re going to post signs for us. The committee members have their personal friends - we’ll try to “drag” them out. The Church Pianist has a following of her own - she’s probably going to play for us, and people will show up just for that. And I have a friend who works for or local paper - she’s offered to run a pre-event story for us. So…I have high hopes for a good turnout.

Thanks! Me too. I’ll keep the thread posted. We’ll make a decent amount at the Tea…and we’ll keep our major donors happy…people who give us money with or without the specific events…but like the overall stuff we’re doing. A little politics doesn’t hurt, at times. :slight_smile:

Ok…first…GREAT user name. I’d personally prefer bacon without acorns…but maybe that’s just brunch talking.

Lovely spread? Yes! Check out the photo stream I posted above. It’ll be even nicer this year. We got a new committee member dedicated to the decorations. She’s done a lot of events before, and has a network of “table hostesses” she’s drawing on. These are people who LOVE to go to Society events…decorate and host a table…and make it a success. We’re giving them general themes and directions, and letting them run with it.

Probably not…only because it’ll be hard to serve. We want as much as we can to be finger food. It lets people taste different items without getting too messy. I have a thread going over in Cafe’ Society about menu items, and one of the suggestions was a nice Victoria Sponge layer cake. I’d love to do it, but it will make things that much more complicated. :frowning:

I’m making them as proper as I can. :slight_smile: We’ll provide the scones, jam, and clotted cream. The guests will put them together, but you bring up a good point…most of them won’t know the right way. We should have some pictures or notes explaining the traditional method…so people who want to can get the full experience. I think I’ll ask the Cafe’ Society ppl for some input on that…but it is something I hadn’t thought of yet.

Thanks…even with the limited turn-out last year, it was a blast…and we got great review.

I take it you’re not in South Florida, then? I’d love professional help. I’m an embedded software developer by trade - I just bake for fun. I hold my own for an amateur…but it takes me a bunch of test batches to get something right.

Sadly, no…probably not. As an affirmed atheist, I can’t begin to understand Church politics. One of the committee members is heavily involved with the internal finances and politics, and he assures me that we have to tread very carefully in that area. It’s a shame, but I’d rather steer well clear of it.

That’s awesome! I know a few places down here who are using rooftops to grow stuff. Herbs are pretty easy…and fresh herbs make such a difference in some dishes! And it’s cheap and healthy.

Thank you for responding and the compliment. You’re very thoughtful with your replies :slight_smile:

With a Victoria Sponge, it’s the easiest cake you can make, just a simple plain sponge with jam and whipped cream in the middle, some people don’t have the cream though but that’s just too much detail, it doesn’t matter either way. A tea is a wonderful experience! Can’t wait for warmer weather so can have one again.

Almost thoughtful enough :slight_smile: I don’t mind MAKING a Victoria Sponge cake…but serving it will be complicated. It means a dedicated dish, with serving implements…instead of finger food that people just pick up and put on their plate. Not a big deal, but more complicated than not doing it. And we have a lot going on.

I actually like the idea enough that I’ll probably make it for some random gathering or party…but it probably won’t make the tea. I really enjoy baking different things for my friends even when I’m not running events. It’s one of my few creative outlets.

Oh, it doesn’t need serving implements, it’s finger food, people just pick it up like a slice of cake, it’s not messy. Oh God, it sounds like I’m trying to push cake onto you :smiley: I’m not atall, I definitely agree, you want to keep it as simple as possible whilst having a variety.