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From Dine Out to Dine IN – Confessions of a Technophobe

29th Apr 2020 - Maria Clarke

Despite the coronavirus outbreak causing disruptions to our fundraising activities, our Glasgow and District Branch were determined for their fundraising event to go ahead. Here's how they adapted their plans to host a successful (virtual) dinner.

Dine In Zoom (002).jpg

Before we start, there are two things you need to know:

1 The Glasgow and District Branch have been hosting a Dine Out to raise money for Blood Cancer UK since 2009. This happens every other month.

2 – I hate technology!

Our original plan

  • Get a restaurant to offer a two course menu with coffee and tablet (fudge), where possible!
  • We aim for £10 a meal, but we’re willing to go as far as £15 if it’s a really good offer. We then add an extra £10 a head to go towards Blood Cancer UK.

This idea came from the Branch in Milton Keynes. We picked it up in Glasgow and ran with it ever since.

Fundraising made easy

Sit down and enjoy a lovely meal with friends, where you pay £10 each towards Blood Cancer UK. We used to have between 40 and 60 people attending, but over the years numbers have gone down to around 20 and 40 people. But even with 20 people, that’s £200 raised. What’s not to like?

And then came LOCKDOWN!

Clearly Dine Out was off limits for an indefinite period. Would our community of diners ever come back to us? I was lamenting this with Catriona, our Relationships Manager in Scotland, where she proposed a virtual Dine In instead.

A timid little voice in my head thought, 'Interesting!' A much more familiar voice screamed, 'Techy! Danger! Run!' However, a short period in a darkened room convinced me it was manageable. After all, it was just a meal with your household, wasn’t it? Where’s the technology in that? What’s there to be afraid of?

Maybe make the meal a wee bit special, especially if like me, you are the sum total of your household (apart from the cats). Push the boat out and treat yourself. If you’re into a wee bit of technology, maybe share it on Facebook and create a community? Easy!

But would anyone go for the idea? With Catriona holding my hand (virtually!) we set up a Justgiving page. I emailed our supporters suggesting that although a Dine Out was not possible, how about a Dine IN?

You decide the menu and the budget. You decide the donation.

I awaited reactions with some trepidation. After all, what was I really offering? Cook yourself a meal and pass me your dosh. I wasn’t going to keep it, but still... To my astonishment, I received a first £50 donation, followed by really enthusiastic comments from others and promises that they would take part. Job done!

Not quite! My step-daughter in London (so not normally a Dine Out participant) suggested a family Zoom get together. I’ll leave you to imagine the battle going on in my mind. But once again, a period in the darkened room made it seem like maybe … just maybe, it could be a possibility. My other step-daughter – presently stuck in Italy – was also up for it, as was my brother in law.

Thus, the Clarke booking at restaurant Zoom was made and opened to others. Dine IN, in all its varieties – single people, couples, Zoomers, FaceTimers – was born. We had a wonderful family catch-up without having to wash a mountain of dishes!

What did we achieve?

  • We received more than double the amount of donations with our Dine In compared to our usual Dine Out's.
  • We maintained contact with our community.
  • A Dine IN is accessible to a wider audience.
  • A huge technological learning curve on my part. It’s a format that is flexible and suits any skill level. There’s always someone nearby with the know-how to help you.
  • We got lots of positive comments:

Virtual dinner party was great fun

Here’s to the time when we are able to share a meal and raise a glass together again

Positive all round? Maybe not. I’ll admit that it has its advantages, but I still hate technology!

If you've been inspired to either host or adapt your fundraising event into something virtual, we can advise you on how to make it a success. Please contact our Supporter Relations team on 0808 169 5155 or [email protected].