How to Estimate a Spaghetti Dinner Fundraiser

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Pasta is cheaper than meat but fills people up just the same.
Pasta is cheaper than meat but fills people up just the same. (Image: spaghetti image by Bartlomiej Nowak from Fotolia.com)

Throwing a fundraising event is a great way to help those in need and bring your community together. Spaghetti dinners are very popular fundraisers because the supplies are relatively cheap and the menu is easy to plan. However, you still want to maximize your profits so you can meet your fundraising goal. To ensure that your spaghetti dinner is a success, take some time to estimate the costs involved.

Set a fundraising goal. Whether the event is for charity or to raise money for new team uniforms, you need to have an idea of your fundraising objective. Set a realistic, achievable goal. Make sure that the goal is flexible because you might have to amend the number once you figure out how much supplies cost.

Select a venue. To maximize profits, try to pick a place that is free of charge. Check with your local church or school to see if you can use a spare room or cafeteria. If it's a small fundraiser, you can possibly use someone's house. For venues that charge, ask when payment is due. If you have to put down a nonrefundable deposit to secure the space, you must be comfortable taking a financial risk in the event you do not sell enough tickets.

Estimate attendance. Once your venue is chosen, you will have a clearer picture of how many tickets you can sell. Figure out how many people can comfortably sit and eat in the space. Do not plan on overbooking to make extra money.

Price supplies. For the menu, plan on serving a simple salad, garlic bread and spaghetti with or without meat. For the pasta, plan on the typical serving of 4 oz. per person, or 1 lb. per four people. One jar of sauce is generally needed for every pound of pasta. Plan on 1 cup of salad and two slices of bread per person. For drinks, you can serve water, iced tea or soda. To be safe, plan on everyone drinking at least two servings, or 16 oz.

Calculate cost. Once you have priced how much it will cost to feed your estimated number of guests, add any applicable venue fees. Add this total cost to your fundraising goal and then divide by the number of guests. This will be your ticket price. If the ticket price seems unreasonably high, then you can buy cheaper brands of food, select another venue or amend your goal.

Tips & Warnings

  • Check your local laws to make sure you can legally have a fundraiser in your area. For example, some ordinances require a permitted kitchen to serve food.

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