Jeffersonian Dinners

This past weekend we were a part of the planning and executing of a Jeffersonian Dinner. A church is growing and kicking off a capital campaign and found this model very useful as they grow their partnerships. They used this dinner model to discuss ideas and strategy with some of their key players.

So, what is a Jeffersonian Dinner?

The name is derived from Thomas Jefferson and is a nod to his elegant dinner parties featuring an audience of affluent, educated dinner guests. Jefferson would lead a conversation that was dynamic and inclusive. Today, a Jeffersonian Dinner is an opportunity to launch an idea, grow a network or activate fundraising resources.

Here are a few key components that separate a Jeffersonian Dinner from any other dinner party:

  • The conversation is focused at the entire group. There are no side conversations happening as everyone is listening to each other and engaged. Because of this, the dinner should be held at one large table where everyone can see and hear one another.
  • There is no pitch or formal presentation. Just organic, flowing conversation.
  • A carefully selected opening question will set the theme for the evening. This might be asking people how they first became involved with the organization or discussing good leaders they know.  It should elicit stories.
  • A mix of people should be invited and the attendance should be under 20 guests. Ideally, some people know each other and others do not.
  • Guests should leave the dinner with an idea of what their next steps are. This may be to make a donation, be an ambassador, or make a connection.

Interested in hosting your own Jeffersonian Dinner and not sure where to start? Let us know! We had a lot of fun with our first one and look forward to planning more in the future! The Generosity Network was also a helpful tool for us and provides some great resources on their site!

Share this post

We offer a complimentary consultation to discuss your event needs.