Boost your Fundraising Efforts with Culinary Experiences

You may not even know it, but chances are, you are a foodie. Are you hooked on the current season of Top Chef? Have you waited in line for the local gourmet food truck to serve up its specialty? Foodies come in all shapes and sizes, ranging from the casual enthusiast to gourmet connoisseur.

With the steady increase in interest in food channels and travel shows featuring regional cuisine (think Anthony Bourdain’s Parts Unknown), as well as an emphasis on local cuisine and concepts like farm-to-table dining, culinary tourism continues to gain momentum as travelers seek authentic cultural experiences that stimulate all of the senses.

In fact, research from the United Nations World Tourism Organization indicates that more than 5 million international tourists said food and wine were their primary reasons for travel, which will generate more than $6 billion in spending.

It’s safe to say that quite a few people who will be attending your upcoming fundraising event have at least a casual interest in food – and some are likely self-declared “diehard foodies”. Food and wine enthusiasts can indulge in the best of both worlds with a culinary tourism experience. Consider offering a selection of culinary travel fundraising packages as part of your silent or live auction.

One example: Tuscany, Italy.

Winspire’s Tuscany Culinary Escape includes a private cooking class, lunch and a wine cellar and olive oil mill tour in the charming town of Lucca. Gourmets and wine buffs descend on this hidden Tuscan Valley to enjoy local specialties. The Garfagnana Valleyis famous for its prosciutto, pork, pecorino cheese and honey.

Fortunately, the area also boasts beautiful areas for walking, hiking and biking, so you can work up an appetite in between meals. This package includes a 5-night stay at the Renaissance Tuscany Il Ciocco Resort & Spa.

Tuscany Culinary Escape

Closer to home, Napa and Sonoma valleys are a wine and food mecca. Winspire has relationships with some amazing wineries and restaurants in this region and offers more than a dozen unique food and wine auction packages.


Regional cuisine is popular, with Charleston and New Orleans serving up some of the best food in the country. The James Beard House in New York City auction package includes a private dinner party for 12 people. Recognized as the center of America’s culinary community, the James Beard House’s mission is to celebrate, nurture and honor America’s diverse culinary heritage.


James Beard House Dinner Party

Private 5-7 Course Tasting Menu with Wine Pairings at the James Beard House in New York City for 12

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Whether someone prefers a hands on experience (Le Cordon Bleu, Napa Valley Epicurean Adventure) or desires to sample the best of the best with some of America’s top chefs (Pebble Beach, Newport Mansions and South Beach Food & Wine Festivals), culinary trips will appeal to those in your audience who have a taste for culinary adventure.

Many travel experts agree that gastronomy and the hunt for authentic experiences is the future of tourism, as the hunger for more hands on, cultural travel is on the top of many peoples’ bucket lists. The shift from people wanting to “go and see” has moved toward the desire to “do and even taste” their way through a particular area or region. Offer these trips to your donors and see for yourself!



Winspire Development Director Sharon Ruback

About Sharon Ruback

Having been a member of the Winspire team since its inception, Sharon works with hospitality and travel partners to expand and enhance Winspire’s portfolio of experiences.

A self-proclaimed armchair traveler, she focuses on developing trips and experiences that will bring a “wow” factor to charity fundraising events. The better the experiences she puts together, the more money Nonprofits can raise. With 200+ packages — and more in the works —  the possibilities are endless! You can also find Sharon on Google+.

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