How to Put on a Spaghetti Supper Fundraiser

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How to put on a spaghetti supper fundraiser will help you plan, prepare and execute a successful and profitable event.

The purpose of a fundraiser is to raise funds usually for an organization, church, or civic group. With the state of our economy, increasingly more events are being held to help family members, neighbors, and friends out of financial crisis. It has become the modern day barn raising.

Without careful planning, your event can actually cost your organization money. Ideally you want to begin planning 3-6 months in advance. Allotting this much time allows the opportunity to explore several possibilities to minimize costs.

One of the cheapest and fulfilling meals to prepare for a fundraiser is a spaghetti supper. Initially it needs to be decided whether to do this by plate or as an all-you-can-eat buffet. A very large eater will top out at three plates. Most people max out at one. It is wise to have servers on a buffet to minimize waste. There is nothing worse than plates piled high with uneaten food left on tables by those that want to make sure they get their money's worth. Assess how many individuals you have available to work on your event.

With calendar in hand, decide on at least three possible dates for the event. Keep in mind other happenings around town. It may or may not be advantageous to host your event to coincide with other goings on.

Next decision is where to hold the spaghetti supper event. Unless your organization has a dining area and kitchen facilities, you need to research hall rentals. Be prepared to discuss possible dates. Make it known if you are a nonprofit or hosting a nonprofit event. This may bear on price. If the establishment serves alcoholic beverages you should use that as a negotiating factor. They handle drinks (soda, water, coffee, tea), you handle food. Both of you benefit. Let it be known that you will handle food preparation, service, and cleanup. Check out their facility. Look for dishes and utensils and whether you can use them. Is there a dishwasher available. Are large pots, strainer, hotel pans, cooking utensils available to use. Is there cooler or refrigeration space for you. Can you use steam table and thermometers. Will you have access to the kitchen all day of your event or do you need to fit in to their schedule to prep. Check establishment's occupancy and seating, Board Of Health Certification, and fire extinguishers. Make up a contract.

You can also contract a hall to do all this for you. Note that you will only make $1-$2 a plate. If you are limited on personnel, this may be the alternative for you.

It is advised to sell tickets to your fundraiser. This gives you a rough idea of how many you will be serving and how much food you will need. Based on occupancy and seating, this is the maximum number of tickets to print. Ticket must note Event, Date, Time, Place, Cost, Ticket Number, Contact Phone#, if beverages are available at bar or included, any other pertinent info such as raffles, etc. Ticket sellers should be issued an envelope to record name, telephone and ticket #s of purchasers in case tickets are lost or stolen. If paid by check, there is ample time to clear before the event.

Advertise, advertise, advertise. Post flyers at supermarkets, laundromats, gas stations, church, malls, the place the event is to be held. Take advantage of free press. Most newspapers will publish particulars of nonprofit events if sufficient time is allowed

Spaghetti Dinner for 50-60 people - Plated

                   Supplies for dining area: 

                   Knife, 2 forks, spoon wrapped in napkin

                   Extra napkins

                   Red checkered table clothes 

                   Centerpiece for each table

                   3 pounds grated Parmesan or Romano cheese for topping (1 or 2  shake containers per table)

           For serving:

                   Dinner plates

                   Salad bowls or plates

                   Dessert plates

           Spaghetti with meat sauce:

                   10-12 pounds spaghetti

                   10-12 quarts spaghetti sauce (3 #10 cans)

                    8-10 pounds hamburger or 1-2 oz. meatballs (4 1oz. or 2 2oz. per plate)

                    50-60 small crusty rolls

                    individual butter or margarine pats

           Tossed salad with Italian dressing:

                    6-7 pounds salad mix

                    50-60 individual dressing packets or 1 gallon dressing served in 2oz. portion cups on side of salad plate 2/3 full


                    5 cake mixes yield 60 cupcakes, 4-5 tubs frosting

                    or 1 sheet cake 

                    or 60 brownies

                    or 120 cookies

To prepare food the day of or day before, bring water to a boil in large stock pot. Add generous amount of salt. Add 3-4 lbs. spaghetti gradually to not allow water to stop boiling. Cook until just barely al dente. Drain and add immediately to hotel pans or shallow plastic food storage containers. Add ice to stop cooking process. Once cool, drain and place in food storage bags with some olive oil to prevent sticking. Refrigerate. Repeat until all needed spaghetti is done.

Gently brown ground beef in large skillet in batches. Drain fat and store in metal hotel pan. Cover and refrigerate. Meatballs are already cooked and should be kept frozen until ready to use. Bake cupcakes, cake, brownies, or cookies and frost.

The day of the spaghetti supper, at least 2 hours in advance, meatballs should be added to a hotel pan(s) and some sauce added. Cover with aluminum foil and place in a preheated 350 degree oven or over 2 burners on the stove, medium heat. The stove method requires stirring to prevent burning. Once heated, either keep warm in steam table or in low oven. Do not allow food holding temperature to go below 180 degrees.

Spaghetti can be heated by placing covered hotel pans in oven or steam table or by keeping boiling pot of salted water on stove and dipping spaghetti as needed using a large metal strainer. Heat (meat)sauce on stove or in oven in covered hotel pan(s). Hold in low oven or in steam table.

Salad can be individually plated with dressing and stored in cooler on large trays. Rolls and butter pats are done at serving time to keep maximum freshness. Deserts can be preplated and stored in cooler.

Tongs work best to plate up spaghetti. Top with about a cup of sauce. Use ladle for portion control.

Planning ahead gives you time to get supplies donated for a nonprofit fundraiser. Supermarkets require a request in writing at least a month in advance. Hand deliver to the manager so you can discuss items needed and at least a reduced price on items purchased from them. Florists may be willing to donate flowers nearing toss date for centerpieces. Department stores may help you with paper goods and plastic ware. Restaurant supply warehouses will usually help out especially if you are a regular customer of theirs.

If donations are made, acknowledge them. Send a thank you note after the event. Make a speech at the event letting all attendees know how successful it is and who to thank for it including those who helped with serving and cleanup at the spaghetti supper. 


Jeffrey Tymczak
Posted on Jan 14, 2012
Posted on Jul 18, 2010