When Ernestine Ulmer famously said, “Life is uncertain. Eat dessert first,” she was not providing advice to those organizing benefit auction dinners! In fact, we would argue that delaying dessert until the conclusion of the event is the best planning option. At the typical benefit auction dinner there is a lot of talking and activity. For the host organization, raising money is the primary goal for the event. This goal is best achieved if all attendees remain actively engaged and attentive for the full program and appeal. The serving of dinner is usually followed immediately with dessert. This may mean it is already on the table or a separate service, which in itself is disruptive to the program.
Waiting to serve dessert until the program is complete benefits both the host and the guests. For the host, it eliminates potential distractions to the important task of raising funds. Guests will want to experience this ‘completion’ to the meal, so will stay, even if they feel they have contributed what they came to. It also encourages guests to remain after the program to converse with their friends eliminating some of the rush to check out. Everyone wins when dessert is served after fundraising activities are complete.