House Wine helps nonprofits raise funds through wine tastings

Donnie Austin, a former engineer with Honda and an MBA graduate from The Ohio State University, wanted to create a local wine store that allowed for socializing and tastings, with an emphasis on being friendly for wine novices and wine connoisseurs.

He wanted a modern but casual atmosphere that made it easy for staff and shoppers to interact. Therefore, the staff is trained to connect with people and their level of wine knowledge.

Despite going above and beyond to meet customers’ needs, House Wine has found a way to be philanthropic, too. Any charity or nonprofit can schedule a tasting at House Wine in Worthington and 20 percent of the revenue from the fundraiser will go to that organization.

“Through wine, we feel like people can get together, have a good time, and raise some money for a good cause,” says Austin. “If the community thinks we’re the best place to buy and enjoy wine, it only makes sense to give what we can to organizations and people in need.”

A House Wine fundraising event revolves around its Enomatic wine dispensing machine,  a self-serve machine featuring 24 wines that, essentially, allows attendees to create their own tasting.

Each attendee receives a tasting card that tracks their purchases, so an individual can spend as much or as little as they like. The automated machine allows an event to remain simple while encouraging socializing and a focus on the charity.

House Wine has been offering the program since its founding in 2007. Since then, it has held numerous fundraisers customized to meet the needs of a particular organization.

“We’ve continued to improve our fundraising events to create a balance of making sense for our business, raising money for an organization, and giving guests a positive experience from the perspective of House Wine and the organization raising the money,” Austin said.

House Wine holds about 40 to 50 fundraisers per year. Local charities that have held such events include the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, TriVillage Mentor League, Worthington Organized Off-leash Friends, the Stefanie Spielman Fund for Breast Cancer Research, and Deaf Services Center. House Wine has also hosted several fundraisers for Pelotonia riders.

When asked for advice to others looking to establish a philanthropic component to their business, Austin suggests working within your means to do whatever you can, whether that’s donating time or money.

“You can also take advantage of tax deductions,” he says. “But all the dollars aside, it’s a positive way to connect with people in the community and what also means a lot to you on a personal level.”

Those interested in scheduling a fundraiser, or learning more about House Wine’s philanthropic program, can contact Donnie Austin via email at [email protected]

Philanthropic Pursuit is a monthly feature on The Metropreneur, powered by Community Shares of Mid OhioIs your business giving back to the community or partnering with a local nonprofit in a unique way? We want to hear about it. Contact Ryan Kovalaske at [email protected].