If you are in the wine industry, you know that the request for wine donations is a common occurrence. Perhaps it’s the social aspect of wine that makes it a higher demand item for donations versus shoes or telephones.  Not only can wine supplement the fundraising aspect of an event, but it can also create the mood that will allow the bidders to bid high. So quite often the wine requested is not only for an auction, but to also grace the table of the guests.

There is no denying the symbiotic relationships between non profits and wineries when it comes to wine donations.  In an article published in the Napa Valley Register, many non profits said wine donations are vital to their operations. In fact, in answering the question: How important are donations from wineries are to the fundraising efforts of your nonprofit organization?

  • 58 percent of responding nonprofits said wine donations were “very important.”
  • 36 percent said they were “somewhat important.”
  • 96 percent of responding Napa County nonprofits said the wine donations were very or somewhat important.

It is so prevalent that in a Q&A on LinkedIn, the question was asked: “When contacting people for wine donations for events, should I contact the wineries themselves, or should I get in touch with their wine consultants?” Eventbrite even has a how to guide called: “How to Get Wineries to Donate to Your Event.”

When it comes to winery side of equation, wine donations are not only seen as goodwill that benefits the community, but a real marketing benefit akin to a consumer tasting.  Savvy wineries understand good public service is good marketing.

The problem comes when the requests are endless and from all directions. How do you choose which requests to fulfill and which to deny?  How can you manage expectations so that those rejected understand why?

One of our clients, Oak Knoll Winery, has addressed this challenge in a very clear and succinct manner that allows the winery to continue the donation process with fairness and direction.  They have created a charitable giving page on their website.  All requests will be funneled through this page for requests.

The key component of this page specifies their “Mission of Charitable Contributions” which is “…toward causes of promoting and supporting the needs of children, cancer research, awareness and patient support, and improving our local community.”

Additionally, they provide a Charitable Donation Request for a nonprofit to fill out with their request. The form asks a series of questions that brings the request to the winery fully qualified with key information.

Finally, if a donation is not possible, they also offer Special Pricing for 503(c) 3 Organizations.  Essentially, this fallback position doesn’t leave the nonprofit high and dry if they have a small budget for wine. They offer clearly stated lower price ranges, for which their wine can be purchased.

We thought this approach deserved recognition because it manages expectations (on both sides) and still continues the flow of donations to deserving nonprofits. Other notable formats we’ve seen lately include Francis Ford Coppola Winery and Naked Winery.

If you are winery is being bombarded by requests for wine donations on a daily and/or weekly basis, you can spend more of your time making and selling wine, as opposed to trying to manage donations indiscriminately, if you adopt a similar program.