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Dining in (and out) for life
Dining in (and out) for life
by Eric Andrews-Katz - SGN Contributing Writer

In major cities across the United States, most people have heard of and/or participated in some sort of Dining Out for Life event. The concept should be familiar. On a prescheduled day, restaurants across the city donate a percentage of the day's profits to a local AIDS charity. The event has been going on successfully for many years in many cities. But have you ever considered hosting a Dine IN?

My partner Alan and I have always enjoyed participating in the Dining Out For Life. Not only does it give us an excuse to go out for dinner but it also helps a great charitable cause. It also provides stimulation to the local economy; all of which are good things. Every year we'd pick a restaurant, invite friends and plan on a night out to do our share. Now, maybe it's just us, but our circle of friends grew. The number in our party got added to and that was great, but the problem became of where to go, how to please so many people, what time was convenient for all, etc....

Four years ago we came up with a solution; we'd create the Dine In. The concept is along the lines of its preceding inspiration, and now the Dine In has become an annual tradition with a few variants. We host the dinner at our house, the date is on a weekend, our guest list extends past 25 and we donate 100% of what we raise to a previously named charity.

As hosts, we offer a choice of two main courses. Usually a pasta dish is present with several selections of sauces in separate bowls. This guarantees vegetarian guests a main course choice and yet will please a crowd possessing diverse culinary tastes. The guests previously sign up to bring an appetizer, side dish, beverage, dessert etc. enough for 5-10 people, so it keeps costs to a minimum by distributing expenses. The money is raised by the $10/person MINIMAL DONATION requested of each guest including the hosts. No financial limit is ever set for a donation if any guest chooses to donate more, and they usually do. Even guests who cannot attend have been known to make their donations. The amount of the donation and the charity beneficiary are always clearly named so all guests are prepared with cash or check and they know where their money is going to help.

And the fundraising doesn't stop there. Many companies will set up a charity donation-matching system. These companies take advantage of the great tax breaks made for charitable donations, but they also offer a way to double funds raised. If one of the companies we work for doesn't offer this, usually one of our guests can arrange it through their workplace. Thanks to the generosity of guests and matching programs alike, these private dinners have raised over $800 the first year, $1500 the next and more than $2000 for last year's event.

It was Alan's idea to single out either Bailey-Boushay or RoseHedge AIDS hospices. Not only does it stay in-line with the original concept of having an AIDS organization benefit, but also these institutions are usually the first to get their funding cut and suffer the hardest from economic financial blows.

Being a natural planner, I am always careful to keep our event at least three weeks away from the Dining Out For Life. It's not a competition, and the idea is to attend both to raise as much money as possible. When participating in the Dining Out For Life, we tend to keep our group limited to two to four people. The Dine In is just another opportunity to enjoy a fun fundraiser, a wonderfully eclectic meal and still enjoy a large group of friends without a huge financial price tag.

In these times of economical crunches there is a danger that these well-needed institutions could lose all financial aid. People tend to be more conservative with their donations. But generally speaking, given the choice to drop $10 into a charity bucket or to donate $10 to an AIDS charity AND enjoy great food and company, the latter usually tends to be more appealing.

Hopefully, when people realize how easy it is to host a fundraiser like the Dine In, it will serve as inspiration. Everything helps when keeping these services afloat.

Dining Out For Life continues its yearly tradition on Thursday, April 30, 2009. With 16 years of great service in raising money for charities (such as The Life Long AIDS Alliance), the Dining Out For Life collects 30% of participating restaurant profits to cover grocery and care services for people living with HIV/AIDS and other illnesses. For more information or a full listing of Seattle's participating restaurants - or to nominate a restaurant for participation - please go to www.diningoutforlife.com/Seattle.

Dining in (and out) for life by Eric Andrews-Katz - SGN Contributing Writer In major cities across the United States, most people have heard of and/or participated in some sort of Dining Out for Life event. The concept should be familiar. On a prescheduled day, restaurants across the city donate a percentage of the day's profits to a local AIDS charity. The event has been going on successfully for many years in many cities. But have you ever considered hosting a Dine IN?

My partner Alan and I have always enjoyed participating in the Dining Out For Life. Not only does it give us an excuse to go out for dinner but it also helps a great charitable cause. It also provides stimulation to the local economy; all of which are good things. Every year we'd pick a restaurant, invite friends and plan on a night out to do our share. Now, maybe it's just us, but our circle of friends grew. The number in our party got added to and that was great, but the problem became of where to go, how to please so many people, what time was convenient for all, etc....

Four years ago we came up with a solution; we'd create the Dine In. The concept is along the lines of its preceding inspiration, and now the Dine In has become an annual tradition with a few variants. We host the dinner at our house, the date is on a weekend, our guest list extends past 25 and we donate 100% of what we raise to a previously named charity.

As hosts, we offer a choice of two main courses. Usually a pasta dish is present with several selections of sauces in separate bowls. This guarantees vegetarian guests a main course choice and yet will please a crowd possessing diverse culinary tastes. The guests previously sign up to bring an appetizer, side dish, beverage, dessert etc. enough for 5-10 people, so it keeps costs to a minimum by distributing expenses. The money is raised by the $10/person MINIMAL DONATION requested of each guest including the hosts. No financial limit is ever set for a donation if any guest chooses to donate more, and they usually do. Even guests who cannot attend have been known to make their donations. The amount of the donation and the charity beneficiary are always clearly named so all guests are prepared with cash or check and they know where their money is going to help.

And the fundraising doesn't stop there. Many companies will set up a charity donation-matching system. These companies take advantage of the great tax breaks made for charitable donations, but they also offer a way to double funds raised. If one of the companies we work for doesn't offer this, usually one of our guests can arrange it through their workplace. Thanks to the generosity of guests and matching programs alike, these private dinners have raised over $800 the first year, $1500 the next and more than $2000 for last year's event.

It was Alan's idea to single out either Bailey-Boushay or RoseHedge AIDS hospices. Not only does it stay in-line with the original concept of having an AIDS organization benefit, but also these institutions are usually the first to get their funding cut and suffer the hardest from economic financial blows.

Being a natural planner, I am always careful to keep our event at least three weeks away from the Dining Out For Life. It's not a competition, and the idea is to attend both to raise as much money as possible. When participating in the Dining Out For Life, we tend to keep our group limited to two to four people. The Dine In is just another opportunity to enjoy a fun fundraiser, a wonderfully eclectic meal and still enjoy a large group of friends without a huge financial price tag.

In these times of economical crunches there is a danger that these well-needed institutions could lose all financial aid. People tend to be more conservative with their donations. But generally speaking, given the choice to drop $10 into a charity bucket or to donate $10 to an AIDS charity AND enjoy great food and company, the latter usually tends to be more appealing.

Hopefully, when people realize how easy it is to host a fundraiser like the Dine In, it will serve as inspiration. Everything helps when keeping these services afloat.

Dining Out For Life continues its yearly tradition on Thursday, April 30, 2009. With 16 years of great service in raising money for charities (such as The Life Long AIDS Alliance), the Dining Out For Life collects 30% of participating restaurant profits to cover grocery and care services for people living with HIV/AIDS and other illnesses. For more information or a full listing of Seattle's participating restaurants - or to nominate a restaurant for participation - please go to www.diningoutforlife.com/Seattle.

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