Asking For Wine…In A Good Way

Over the years I've found myself in a position of asking my colleagues in the wine industry and  folks in the hospitality industries to give me things. "Donations" they are called. Some people are better than others at doing the asking. I fall somewhere in the middle. In asking for wines, airline tickets, hotel rooms, memorabilia and other items, almost always for auctions, I have learned one thing: You get your best results when you tell the potential giver that the donation will help the cause more than it will help them. Hand out

I'm doing this again for Specialty Wine Retailers Association as we gear up for an important fundraiser in Chicago where we hope to raise funds to move hearts and minds toward re-opening that state for consumer purchases of wine from out of state wine stores. That option was stripped from consumers and retailers in 2007. I'm looking for Big Bottles, Bordeaux Futures, Verticals, Horizontal Collections, airline tickets, Guest Houses in Wine Country, Limos Services, etc, etc.

Here's how the request sounds:

"Joe, this is Tom at SWRA. I need your help. I need to fill an auction in Chicago with great lots so we can raise funds to change the laws in that state to allow direct shipment of wine by consumers. Our event is on August 6. If  you can donate a six liter bottle of your Cab, you'd be helping us tremendously and we need it if we are going to open that state back up. All I can promise you in return is a mention on the program and a guarantee the money will  be used wisely to fight the good fight."

The reason I never promise more than good will is because I've been the object of requests on too many occasions to count. The PR Guy is often the first person people go to when they ask for these things. I've listened to schpeal after schpeal about how my clients will receive tremendous exposure by having their wine available for auction. And I've been to these events. The exposure is minimal, at best. And I can't bring myself to puff up reality.

At some point, the person being asked to help simply has to decide if they can afford to help and if the cause they are helping is worthy of their support. Those are really the only two questions that someone being asked to give must answer. On top of that, these are questions that wineries in particular are confronted with constantly. and they usually have pat answers that resemble "no"…unless they are taken by the cause.

Of course, my cause and the cause of Specialty Wine Retailers Association is critical and I can't imagine why anyone would say "No" to my requests. And this kind of attitude and ridiculous optimism is key. If you've ever spent time asking for things, you know that "NO" is coming your way. It's a lot like selling vacuum cleaners though—something I have experience with: If you hear enough "No's" you'll eventually get to the "Yes". But it's a matter of asking and asking with honestly.

By the way, all donations to this worthy cause and worthy event can be made by calling Tom Wark at 707-935-4424.

5 Responses

  1. Chicago Pinot - July 8, 2009

    Hi Tom! What’s the date/time of this event? Do you need help with planning or any help the night of the gala?

  2. Chicago Pinot - July 8, 2009

    Can we have a Quarters tournament that night to raise money? Please, please?

  3. 1WineDude - July 9, 2009

    Best of luck in Chicago.

  4. el jefe - July 9, 2009

    Twisted Oak will be donating some really good *%#&@! to this auction!

  5. [email protected] - July 12, 2009

    spiel after spiel

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