Theme Parties for Profit:
non-profit art center auctions theme-based parties for profit. Byway
themes and resources may lend themselves to adapting this idea as
a fund-raiser for byway organizations.
Deborah Divine of the Kansas State Byways Program
shared the example of the Salina Art Center’s successful auction
of theme-based Rave Review parties as a fund-raising idea that could
be adopted by byway organizations and tailored to byway themes. Wendy
Moshier, director of community development for the Salina Art Center
in Salina, Kansas, credits the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas
City as the inspiration for the original idea of the parties that
package a meal, an activity, workshop or other experience around
a theme. See How
Initially, the Salina Art Center scheduled parties
for a September-through-December timeframe. The Center now makes
the parties available for purchase via a large fall auction, “Grape
Expectations,” offering parties that are scheduled at times
throughout the calendar year. The auctions draw primarily on the
45,000 population of the Salina area.
Initially, the Salina Art Center mailed a brochure
highlighting the parties for a set price. People could purchase tickets
for as many of the parties as they wished to attend. Some parties
were limited to six people, some sold to hundreds of people. Most
of the parties average 12 to 20 guests.
The Salina Art Center solicits party hosts, which may
be a single couple or several couples or individuals co-hosting.
The hosts develop their own party theme or expand upon a suggestion
made by the Center. The hosts donate their expenses as a gift to
the Center. The Center’s insurance covers the volunteer donors
through special event liability coverage.
The theme-based parties have included an Italian dinner
for 18 with entertainment; an authentic Lebanese dinner for 12; a
Thomas Jefferson Party featuring a living history re-enactor and
a meal made with historic recipes; and a bowling birthday party or
pool party for kids.
A Women’s Retreat gathered together 12 women
in a country home setting for an elegant dinner on Friday night,
a Saturday breakfast followed by a photography workshop, a meditative
body work session, an art experience, and an interactive discussion
led by a clinical psychologist.
A Mother-Daughter Tea Party included marimba quintet
and vocal quartet, fabulous foods and photos the mother-daughter
Ms. Moshier estimates that the Center has worked with
50 to 60 different hosts over the past three years to host about
15 parties a year.
When the party calendar expanded to include parties
at any time of year, people sometimes had difficulty committing to
an event that was scheduled several months away from the time they
received the brochure mailing. To alleviate that waning interest,
the Salina Art Center began hosting a fall auction event that is
now quite popular.
The auction event is an invitation-only event that
includes beverages, food, a jazz band and access to silent and live
auctions for $35/ticket. Members of the general public can ask to
be added to the invitation list, which has about 1,500 names. The
event costs the Art Center $5,000 to $7,000 in expenses, much of
which is underwritten by sponsors.
The auction price of the parties varies. A children’s
birthday party may bring $400, while an elegant dinner party for
12 may sell for $4,000. In 2003, the Center, which has held these
parties for more than 10 years now, made $25,000.
Why Rave Review Parties:
• Engage the public in supporting an organization
with a fun event
• Engage the business public through sponsorships
• Allow the donors to use their creativity and
craft their own event as their resources and imagination allow
Art Center – Wendy Moshier, Director of Community Development,