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Can my organization serve or auction off alcohol at our fundraising event?

In this FAQ:

Special Event Liquor Permits

Yes, nonprofits may serve alcohol at its event, but may need a special event liquor permit issued by the Colorado Department of Revenue, Liquor Enforcement Division or local liquor licensing authority. 

Special event liquor permits are required when the nonprofit:

  • Has an event and wants to sell alcohol beverages
  • Has an event that is open to the public and alcohol beverages are available
  • Has an event where there is a cash bar
  • Has a public event where donations are requested
  • Has a public event where admission fees are required
  • Plans to auction off sealed bottles of alcohol

Nonprofits that plan to serve alcohol at its event that is subject to the special event liquor permit, must apply 30 days in advance of the event. Nonprofits must also provide food snacks at all times that alcohol beverages are being served. 

Special event liquor permits are only valid for the specific date and location described in the application. Your organization will need to apply for a permit each time you have an event that includes serving alcohol(30 days prior to the event). 

Exemptions from Special Event Liquor Permits

A special events permit is not required if:

  • alcohol is being served to members of the organization and their guests, at a private function held by the organization, and beverages are not sold by the drink. Any fees associated with the event must be uniform to all, regardless of alcohol being consumed or not.
  • The venue (of the event) has a permanent liquor license. The licensed retail premises must be responsible for the payment of alcohol beverages from the suppliers.  

Donated Liquor for Events

Nonprofits may serve donated liquor at its event. However, there are additional regulations pertaining to donated liquor. Read the Colorado Department of Revenue's Bulletin 16-08 for more information. 

Auctioning Off Alcohol

On March 1, 2018, Governor Hickenlooper signed SB18-067 which went into effect immediately. This bill allows nonprofit, fraternal, religious, and philanthropic organizations, as well as institutions of higher education, to auction sealed bottles of alcohol for fundraising purposes at venues that hold liquor licenses. SB18-067 allows nonprofits and other listed organizations to legally auction alcohol at these venues and avoid potential fines for breaking Liquor Enforcement laws.

However, there are still important rules that organizations must follow. 

  • Alcohol must be sealed when it is brought to the event, and must remain sealed until the alcohol is brought home.  
  • Nonprofits still must apply for a special event permit, be exempt from a special event permit requirement, or hold the fundraising event at a venue licensed to sell alcoholic beverages. 

Find more information about SB 18-067.



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These articles, samples, and resources are offered for informational purposes only and should not be construed as professional advice. If used, your organization should tailor samples to best fit the organization’s specific circumstances. We encourage your organization to seek appropriate professional assistance as needed.

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