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Dining with Friends

"Dining with Friends" is a weekend of independent fundraising parties to benefit Manatee Literacy Council. These events must take place anytime between Friday, February 23, and Sunday, February 25, 2018. Download the flyer (PDF).

How does it work?
Supporters agree to plan and host parties on behalf of Manatee Literacy Council. The host sets the theme, the guest list, and the budget. During the party, the host asks guests to make a charitable gift to Manatee Literacy Council. It’s like regular private party, except with a fundraising element.

There is no limit to the number of hosts or parties that can take place during “Dining with Friends.”

Why doesn’t Manatee Literacy Council hold a traditional event like a luncheon or gala?
Events like luncheons and galas are very expensive for organizations to put on, and they tie up resources that could be better used for programs. While events can be fun, guests often feel obligated—rather than excited—to attend them. They have to buy a ticket, figure out what to wear, hire a babysitter, and force themselves to “be social.”

"Dining with Friends" is completely different. It takes away the overhead expenses of a luncheon or gala, allowing Manatee Literacy Council to devote as much of its operating budget as possible to fulfilling its mission. “Dining with Friends” has the potential to bring in as much or more in donations as a traditional event, but the fundraising expense is divided among many hosts throwing many small parties, so the net proceeds to the organization are tremendously higher. Plus, guests will actually want to attend these parties because they know the host and because the parties promise to be much more intimate and entertaining than a big event.

According to Network for Good, the number-one reason people donate to a charitable organization: someone they care about asks them to. (See the rest of the reasons here.) Because you care about Manatee Literacy Council, there’s a good chance your guests will donate to support the cause.

What is the goal of “Dining with Friends”?
The primary goal is to raise funds to support Manatee Literacy Council’s mission to “empower adults to independence through literacy.” Like all fundraising events, we also hope to expose our mission to people who wouldn’t know what we do otherwise. Plus, we want it to be a fun experience for everyone involved.

How do I sign up to host a party?
Call Manatee Literacy Council at 941-746-8197 or email Marilyn Cox at marilyn@manatee-literacy.org. You can sign up anytime between now and February 16, 2018.

Hosts will receive a packet with blank invitations and donation slips, plus access to shareable marketing materials and success stories to use for the fundraising “ask.”

"Dining with Friends" Explained 

Download these FAQ (PDF)

Do guests have to pay for tickets?
No, because there are no tickets. These are individual parties thrown by individual hosts. Just like you wouldn’t charge guests to attend a dinner party at your house, you should not charge guests to attend a “Dining with Friends” event that you host.

Do guests have to donate?
Guests are under no obligation to support Manatee Literacy Council. Think of “Dining with Friends” like a Tupperware party. When you invite guests to a Tupperware party, guests know that there will be merchandise for sale. You, as the host, provide food and refreshments, and it’s usually a nice social experience as well. If a guest chooses not to purchase Tupperware, that’s perfectly fine.

In the case of “Dining with Friends,” a donation to Manatee Literacy Council is like Tupperware. Guests can choose to either make a charitable gift or decline. There is no obligation. However, if guests do choose to donate, they’ll be supporting a local organization that "empowers adults to independence through literacy."

We suggest that you let your guests know in advance that there is a fundraising element to this party, that way no one is made uncomfortable. On the back of the blank invitations that hosts are given to send out, there is a blurb about “Dining with Friends” that mentions that it’s a fundraising party.

Who pays for the party?
The host. Your “gift” in this case is the party itself. The nice thing about “Dining with Friends” is that you as the host can make the party as simple or as elaborate as you choose. It’s all about what you and your guests would consider fun. If your guests would be happy with pizza and board games, then your party will be relatively inexpensive. If you choose to offer caviar and champagne, then it will be more expensive. Spend as much or as little as you feel comfortable spending.

Is the host expected to also make a charitable gift?
Of course not, but we won’t stop you if you want to donate! Just know that we are truly grateful to you for hosting a party. You are helping Manatee Literacy Council with a major fundraiser that will support our mission and vision.

Will Manatee Literacy Council help me advertise my event?
While we cannot advertise individual parties, we will be promoting the overall “Dining with Friends” event concept through digital and print media.

As a host, can I invite whomever I want?
Absolutely! You control the guest list.

Do I have to invite a certain number of guests?
Nope. You can invite as few or as many guests as you’d like.

Does the party have to follow a certain theme?
No. The party can be whatever you would like it to be. Yours might be a dinner party at your home while someone else’s party is a picnic at a local park. If the dates of “Dining with Friends” happen to coincide with a birthday, anniversary, or other event, there’s no reason your party can’t serve two purposes: to celebrate the special event and to support Manatee Literacy Council. You’re only limited by your creativity and your self-determined budget. All we ask is that you use the provided “Dining with Friends” invitations and marketing materials to make it clear that your event is in support of Manatee Literacy Council.

How do I initiate the donation part of the event?
It’s up to you and the flow of your event. Perhaps you will make a simple toast before dinner and direct guests to a donation slip at their place setting. Maybe you will incorporate photos and success stories (Manatee Literacy Council will provide these) into a slideshow that you play throughout. There’s no right or wrong way to initiate the charitable “ask”. Think about your guests and what would be most impactful for them.

How do I collect donations?
As a host, you’ll receive blank donation forms and envelopes. Guests can make donations via cash or check. If they prefer to use a debit or credit card, they can make online donations through PayPal (they do not have to have a PayPal account to donate this way). Hosts will be provided to a link to a designated donation page for “Dining with Friends” parties. You can send the page link to your guests, and they can make their donation at their convenience.

The host is responsible for returning all cash and checks to Manatee Literacy Council within two weeks after the party.

Are donations tax deductible?
Yes, donations made to Manatee Literacy Council are 100% tax deductible.

The most important thing to remember is that guests should not donate to you, the host. That means they should not make checks payable to you, then you in turn write one lump check to Manatee Literacy Council. If you go that way, then only you, the check writer in this case, would receive a tax acknowledgement. Checks should be made payable to Manatee Literacy Council. Online donations through the provided PayPal page will automatically be distributed to Manatee Literacy Council. A donation solicited on our behalf is fully tax-deductible only when it is made directly and entirely to Manatee Literacy Council.

Once all donations are received and recorded by Manatee Literacy Council, individual donors will receive tax acknowledgment letters, provided they included a mailing address or other contact information with their donation.

The Literacy Council of Manatee County dba Manatee Literacy Council is a registered 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation. A copy of the official registration and financial information may be obtained from the Division of Consumer Services by calling toll-free within the state (1-800-435-7352) or from www.freshfromflorida.com Registration does not imply endorsement, approval, or recommendation by the state. One hundred percent (100%) of each contribution is received by Manatee Literacy Council, Registration #CH210. The Literacy Council of Manatee County dba Manatee Literacy Council is tax exempt under section 501(c)(3) of the revenue service tax code. Tax ID #59-2116479.

Can someone make an anonymous donation?
Yes. They can simply give cash and not fill out a donation form. Or they can write a check or fill out a donation form but indicate that they wish to remain anonymous. In that case, only the staff member processing the donation will know the donor’s name.

If guests are worried that they’ll be added to our mail or email lists, they can always contact us to be removed from correspondence. Manatee Literacy Council’s Donor Privacy Policy is available here.

Are my party expenses tax-deductible?
Your tax professional can advise you if the expenses you incurred to hold the party are eligible for a tax deduction in 2018. Keep any associated receipts. 

How will I know how much my party raised?
Approximately one month after “Dining with Friends,” we will contact you to let you know the dollar amount your party raised (taking into consideration any online donations attributed to your specific party). And, of course, we will thank you profusely at that time too.

I’m not able to host a party. Can I still participate?
Even if you cannot hold a party during the official “Dining with Friends” dates, you are always welcome to throw a fundraising party and donate the proceeds to Manatee Literacy Council. Your proceeds just will not be considered part of the overall “Dining with Friends” event total.

Do I have to attend other parties?
Not unless you’re invited to another party/parties and you want to attend. Think of your event as one party in a series of simultaneous parties, all raising money for the same cause.

Manatee Literacy Council is not responsible for any injuries, damages, or theft sustained by event coordinators, volunteers, participants, or any other individuals related to a third-party event. We cannot provide liability insurance or coverage for third-party events. Events and event organizers must comply with all local, state, and federal laws and obtain any necessary permits or licenses.


Manatee Literacy Council
3501 Cortez Road West, Suite 6, Bradenton, FL 34210