Free Beer Fundraisers


It was fascinating to see shocked faces on people listening to my presentation at the Oregon Festivals and Events conference. I talked about how to raise money at street fairs while also building community. Their surprise came when I told them about free beer fundraisers at street fairs. The trick to raising money from beer and wine gardens is to get your beverage of choice donated, just ask for it.

Provide substantial marketing exposure to breweries by offering them a title sponsorship of beer gardens. Beer fundraisers give sponsors audience access. Invite the brewer onsite. Play 20 questions, feature their favorite band or demonstrate their brewing process if space allows.

Sponsors can be featured on printed menus or large signs and most will be happy to pay for them in exchange for the extra exposure they receive.

It isn’t legal for brewery or winery to give away alcohol for free. They can, however, make a donation to non profits. States vary in contribution methods of alcoholic beverages. Some can donate but aren’t allowed to serve it. Others can donate only through distributors. Follow your state rules carefully.

In addition to donating beverages, brewers and wineries, or their distribution companies can provide tables, cups, refrigerated coolers, even tents.

Media organizations love to sponsor beverage tents. People are captured in a defined area for a specific time. Offer sponsor tables within a beer garden. Help them provide games or interactive materials that add action and keep people having fun!

You may only capture someone’s attention for a short time. To maximize fundraising at beer gardens, provide details about your organization near serving areas, on tip jars.

Beer fundraisers are more successful when serving light, low-alcohol beers. Use 10-or 12-ounce cups. This way, the cost to attendees is low and less alcohol will be in each serving.

This fundraising activity for adults is greatly appreciated, especially on hot summer days. Make the most of beverage gardens by decorating with shade sails, colorful umbrellas, great signs and interactive fun!

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About Bridget Bayer

Bridget Bayer is an author and community organizer working to create vibrant main street business districts that support local economies. Bridget believes shared activities are a catalyst for positive change. Her professional work fosters community involvement by creating shared events that enhance communication, develop shared interests and support existing and start-up non-profit organizations. At home, Bridget focuses on innovative ecological practices, hates waste and dependably finds ways to eliminate it. After 25 years in the restaurant industry, she still loves to cook especially with locally sourced veggies including those homegrown from her garden. Bridget, the first mate on Ama Natura, lives on a floating home on the Columbia River in Portland with Peter Wilcox, instigator of the Inside Passage Decarbonization Project, and the lovely Luna, her favorite cat.