Joe and Katelin Rupp’s Party for PEAK

We organized and hosted a successful fundraiser for Uplands PEAK in our home, and raised about $3,000.00, which helped PEAK purchase a new-to-them pickup truck to help cover transportation and hauling necessities. We learned a great deal and would like to share our experience for those who may be interested in hosting their own house party for Uplands PEAK.

We were married on May 28th in Rochester, NY (Joe’s hometown). Because it was a very small ceremony with about 20 family members in attendance, we decided to have a big party at our home after our wedding. We have all of the worldly possessions we want and need so it was a perfect opportunity to encourage our friends and family to donate in our honor to a cause that is important to both of us.

First, we ran the idea past Mark and Michelle about four months prior to when we had planned to have the party. Once we learned they were on board, we started assembling a guest list. We wanted to design an invitation that included some of the PEAK residents, and luckily, we were able to design one fairly easily (and for free) using Canva.com. We had postcard invitations printed and also saved the electronic file to email out to friends we may not see in person before the party. In addition to clearly stating that the party was a fundraiser, the invitation included basic information about the event – date and time, RSVP instructions, and the Uplands PEAK logo.

We started to distribute the invitations, and set up a Facebook event. The Facebook event allowed us to provide potential attendees with updates all at once, and link to external sites. We tracked invitees on an excel spreadsheet, and made sure that we had reached out to each of them individually before sending them an invitation to the Facebook event.  We also reached out to a few local businesses and asked if they would be interested in donating food or beverages for the party. Because Uplands PEAK is a 501c3, should businesses choose to donate goods or services to a fundraiser, they may request a tax receipt in return. Metazoa Brewing Company responded to our appeal, offered to set up a few kegs at our party, sell beer to guests, and donate $2.00 for each pint sold to Uplands PEAK. This worked out very well, because not only did it take some of the pressure off of us to serve beverages, but they tracked sales and issued a check directly to Uplands PEAK after the party. Metazoa donates 5% of its profits to animal and wildlife organizations, so their mission aligned well with our appeal to support PEAK.

We started brainstorming about food. We decided to open our home from 10 am – 10 pm, in order to accommodate as many people’s schedules as possible. We decided to start the day with breakfast foods – muffins and raw doughnut holes (homemade) and vegan doughnuts from a local shop. A co-worker and friend suggested that we borrow her family’s taco bar, which was hand-built from reclaimed barn wood for a wedding. Naturally, tacos were added to the menu for lunch! We planned on ordering pizzas for dinner if there was enough interest, and apple pie with vanilla ice cream for dessert.

We knew that it would be important to educate our guests about PEAK and share why it is such a special organization. Michelle and Mark had provided photos of the residents to us when we were designing our invitations. We printed some of these pictures, and paired them with the resident bios found on PEAK’s website. We also printed a sign with PEAK’s mission statement, website, and physical address. Mark and Michelle created an amazing video that we looped on a TV throughout the day of our party. The video highlighted PEAK’s history, mission, residents, and Mark and Michelle shared the need for donations toward a pickup truck for the sanctuary. Mark and Michelle also set up a web link for online donations, for those that preferred to give in this way, and for people who could not attend but still wanted to contribute. We shared this link on the Facebook event, sent it out in a final reminder email about the event, and printed a sign with the link to display at the party as well.

We invited friends from the vegan community, but many of our friends and family aren’t vegan – so it was also a great opportunity to feed them some good food and share information about the residents of Uplands PEAK. We hope that they got a little glimpse into our world and gained a better understanding of our choice not to eat animals. To that end, we also placed palm cards with information on our local vegan meetup group and a few Vegan Starter Kits on the same table as the monitor that was playing the PEAK video. We wanted people to leave the party with a memento that would remind them of what they had learned about Uplands PEAK, as well as encourage compassionate choices throughout their everyday lives. We decided on simple refrigerator magnets, and found two Etsy vendors that we really liked. We made sure we ordered enough magnets so that each guest could choose at least one.

Our party was big, but yours doesn’t have to be! You can host a party on a much smaller scale, still be a rewarding experience, and raise enough awareness and funds to make a substantial contribution.  We found this article by Dallas Rising to be very helpful as we planned ours. We learned some important lessons that we’d like to share with all who are planning on hosting their own house party in honor of PEAK.

  1. Write to Mark and Michelle and check in with them on the date of the party. They provided us with many great resources – a fundraising goal, a video, pictures, a fundraising page on their website, and many ideas. The fundraiser should be a collaborative effort with the organization in order to have the most impact.
  2. Set a budget. This will help you determine the size of the party as well as whether or not to include certain details, such as printed invitations and party favors. We didn’t set a budget, but did retain all of our receipts. Expenses are tax-deductible, so we tracked our expenses and provided receipts to PEAK.
  3. Take pictures! We had so much fun partying along with our guests that we only thought to snap a few pictures. I’m grateful for the pictures we have, but wish we had taken more of all of our guests.
  4. A long-running party doesn’t necessarily mean more guests – we had planned on partying for 12 hours with the intention of accommodating more schedules. Few people came during the first three and last three hours, and we had a full house between 1 and 6 pm.
  5. Last, but not least, consider the food. We prepared soy chorizo, jackfruit, and black beans for the tacos, along with a variety of fresh toppings. Many guests had never tried jackfruit, and exclaimed that with the options we provided, they did not miss the meat. The food can provide a teachable moment for people who might be open to veganism or incorporating more meat-free meals into their diets. Guests also liked the raw doughnut holes and muffins that we made (in addition to, of course, the doughnuts). I posted the raw doughnut hole recipe on the Facebook event page the week after the event. We could have provided recipe cards for people to take with them.

So many of our friends and family members pitched in to make the event successful and we are so thankful!

By Katelin and Joe Rupp

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