How to Serve Alcohol at a Charity Fundraising Event

Written by | Event Information

Licensing Requirements

You have your guestlist and venue nailed down, your food service figured out, the right band booked, but wait…what about the booze?!  I receive many questions in this area, and the rules have changed a bit in the last twelve months.


Remember that in Tennessee, wine and spirits, and any other alcohol over 8% ABW (10% ABV), is licensed by the Tennessee Alcoholic Beverage Commission (“TABC”), leaving the governance of all beer with an alcohol content of up to 8% ABW  to the local beer boards.


To receive and to serve wine, spirits and beer at your charity fundraiser, here is what you need to know:


Wine and Spirits

  1. A group or a charity looking to host a fundraiser first needs a “special occasion” license issued by the TABC.  This is a type of Liquor-By-the-Drink license, which is the license type issued to retailers of alcohol.  Liquor-By-the-Drink (LBD) licenses or On-Premise Consumption licenses may be issued to restaurants, hotels, private clubs and other establishments that are eligible under Tennessee law. An LBD or On-Premise Consumption license allows an establishment to sell and dispense alcoholic beverages that contain an alcoholic content eight percent (8%) or greater by weight, for example, liquor, wine and high alcohol content beer.
  2. A special occasion license is valid for one twenty-four (24) hour period.  Here are the specific requirements:
    1. A special occasion license is available to a bona fide charitable or non-profit organization, or a bona fide political organization (in other words, there must be a charity involved);
    2. Applications must be submitted to the Nashville office at least two weeks prior to the event. Applications submitted less than two (2) calendar weeks prior to the event are subject to a late fee of $100.00;
    3. All proceeds generated from the sale of alcoholic beverages pursuant to the special occasion permit must be deposited into the special occasion permittee’s monetary account(s);
    4. No charitable organization shall be eligible to receive more than twelve (12) special occasion licenses in a calendar year;
    5. If a special occasion licensee is purchasing alcohol for the event, it must be purchased from a retail package store (note that you may also received donated alcohol to serve at your event);
    6. Any entity holding a special occasion license or members of the licensee may transport wine and other alcoholic beverages to the location for which the special occasion license is issued. No customer or patron is allowed to transport alcoholic beverages away from the designated area of the event;
    7. Special occasion permittees shall be responsible for complying with state statutes, rules and regulations related to the sale of alcoholic beverages to minors, the sale of alcoholic beverages to visibly intoxicated persons and/or the sale of alcoholic beverages by the bottle;
    8. Alcoholic beverages cannot be sold or consumed between 3:00 A.M. and 8:00 A.M. on weekdays and 3:00 A.M. and 10:00 A.M. on Sundays, unless the county has made an exception, in which case, alcohol cannot be served between 3:00 A.M. and  12:00 noon on Sundays.
  3. For more information and to apply online for a special occasion, please contact us or visit the TABC website at:–lob-.html.



  1. For the proper beer permitting of your fundraising event, the process works similarly throughout the state, so I will use Nashville as an example.  The Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County Beer Board (“Beer Board”) permits special events through the review and processing of an On-Premises Consumption Beer Application: (Beer Application Here).
  2. Upon meeting all requirements, a special event permit may be issued to any person en­gaged in the sale of beer for consumption by the purchaser upon the pre­mises of the seller for a specified period of time, and in conjunction with certain types of activities, including, but not limited to fairs, bazaars, and similar public or private social events.
  3. To be eligible for a permit, the applicant shall establish the following:
    1. That no beer will be sold except at places where such sale will not cause congestion of traffic or interference with schools, churches, or other places of public gathering, or otherwise interfere with public health, safety and morals; provided however, nothing in this subsection shall apply to places of business that are located in the terminal or main building at public airports serviced by commercial airlines with regularly scheduled flights;
    2. That no sale shall be made to persons under twenty-one years of age;
    3. That no person, firm, corporation, joint-stock company, syndicate, or association having a least a five percent ownership interest in the establish­ment has been convicted of any violation of the laws against possession, sale, manufacture, or transportation of beer or other alcoholic beverages or any crime involving moral turpitude within the past ten years; and,
    4. That no sale shall be made for on-premises consumption unless the permit so states;
    5. That no person having at least a five percent ownership interest in the establishment has been released from incarceration within the past ten years for conviction of any crime involving moral turpitude. Proof of the date of release from incarceration of any applicant convicted of any crime involving moral turpitude shall be furnished by the applicant to the beer board prior to the consideration of such application. For purposes of this subsection, “moral turpitude” means premeditated murder, all sex related crimes, the illegal sale of Schedule I and II controlled substances, and crimes of fraud or embezzlement.
  4. In addition to the above, there are some location restrictions to be aware of that can be found here, under M.C.L. 7.08.090:   Click Here For More Informationm.
  5. For your special event, you will need to gather and submit to the Beer Board the following documents and approvals with your beer permit application:
    1. Letter of permission to use the property from the property owner;
    2. Health Dept. inspection approval;
    3. Fire Marshall inspection approval;
    4. Certificate of Registration or Tax Exempt Letter from Charity or Non-profit organizations;
    5. Certificate of Existence (for Tennessee corporations);
    6. Certificate of Authorization (for out of state corporations);
    7. Proof of Legal Status (for non-U.S. Citizens);
    8. Letter of Security – from licensed person or company providing security (must state date, time, place, number of security officers); and
    9. Street Closure Permit (if applicable).


Some event holders choose to enlist the services of a licensed caterer for the providing of their food and beverage service, however some choose to solicit donated alcohol and handle the special event permitting process outlined above themselves.  If a licensed caterer is not involved, any event holder will want to make sure that there are licensed bartenders/servers handling and serving all alcoholic beverages.


For more information or any questions relating to the above, please reach out to me directly.  The best of luck with your next event!

Last modified: June 20, 2018