What You Need To Know Before Holding A Wine Fundraiser

Law Articles

If you're planning on holding a charity event and wish to serve or sell wine as part of the fundraiser, you'll need to get a special liquor license. There are currently several kinds available, and they come with special rules that need to be planned out months in advance. Here's what you should know, from what kind of license you need to where you're allowed to hold the event, so that your fundraiser is a success.

Auction License vs. Pouring License

The difference between the two is fairly straightforward. If you wish to raise money by auctioning off bottles of wine, you'll need to get a Charity Wine Auction License (CWAL). If you're simply holding a fundraiser in which you'd like to sell individual glasses of wine and use the proceeds for charity, you should apply for a Charity Wine Pouring License (CWPL).

Eligible Organizations

Eligibility for obtaining these types of liquor licenses is determined by how your charity is set up. According to Massachusetts law, it has to be a non-profit that's "organized under chapter 180 of the General Laws and registered with the public charities division of the office of the attorney general." If you fail to meet these requirements, you won't be able to get your application approved.

Where to Get the Wine

Part of your event preparation will include figuring out where to get the wine that will be sold or auctioned. This is where good planning and strong connections come in handy because purchasing the wine is restricted. All alcohol that's sold at the fundraiser must have come from donations. You'll also need to keep track of who donated so they can be named on the application.

If this is new territory for you, a little research can help when trying to find donors. For instance, some wine stores offer charitable donations when the fundraiser is held in-store. You can also get creative when it comes to encouraging companies, wineries, or individuals to give. For example, you could offer to distribute brochures or flyers that provide information about the winery or company that made the donation--a little quid pro quo. Keep in mind, though, that some organizations may try to encourage a small amount of compensation for their donation. Make sure they know that's against licensing rules.

Partnering with another Licensee

If you wish to partner up, you can get a Charity Partner Wine Pouring License (CPWPL) with another company or establishment that already holds a license. In these situations, the companies that donated the wine are allowed use their own employees to pour the wine at the event, without compensation. This can be highly beneficial for the charity since it will alleviate the burden of finding volunteers willing to pour. Another benefit to having a CPWPL is in how the proceeds can be used, which is discussed below.

A Few Words about Proceeds

With both the CWAL and CWPL, the money that's raised can only be used for charitable purposes. In other words, you can't pocket any of the funds or use it for personal reasons, like buying gifts for volunteers and putting gas for your car.

But with a CPWPL, the rules are a little different. The existing license holder can use a small percentage of the proceeds for non-charity purposes. If you do go this route, be sure to keep detailed documents on expenditures as the ABCC is allowed to conduct post-event audits to determine how proceeds were allocated.

Fundraiser Location

You'll need to know ahead of time where your fundraiser will be so you can put it on the application. It can be held at the main charity headquarters or in a place that's legally zoned to sell wine or other alcoholic beverages. For instance, you may want to hold the event at a golf course or a restaurant, which will earn you a CPWPL. If so, you'll need to get a letter of consent from the business and send it in with your application. Whatever address is on your license is the only place you can hold the event.  

How to Apply

Visit the Massachusetts Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission website at least 60 days in advance. You have to fill out the application online, then print it out and send it to the provided address. For more information on this topic, contact a company like Arizona Liquor Industry Consultants.


15 November 2016

Noni and the Accident

My name is Noni. When I was in college, I was hit by a car while crossing the street. My life was never in danger, but I did break a few bones and had a lot of huge medical bills. I was hoping I wouldn't have to get involved with an attorney, but unfortunately, it came down to that. I used a family friend who is an accident attorney to get some compensation. A few years later, I was hit while riding my bike and had to go through the same process. I suppose I'm lucky to be alive. And it's thanks to accident attorneys that I have been able to put my life back together. I started this blog as a way to let others know just how much lawyers can help you in certain situations.