Brian Chilson

Earlier this month Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported that wholesale alcohol distributor Southern Glazer’s Wine and Spirts Inc. recently notified its Arkansas customers that it would be cutting back on its liquor donations.

The sudden change leaves nonprofits who have long relied on the practice seeking out alternatives, some with little time to spare. The reversal left Arkansas Foodbank rushing to find a replacement for its 21st annual Empty Bowls fundraiser, the Dem-Gaz reported.


“This is a big deal,” said Kelley Bass, chief executive officer at the Museum of Discovery, which has relied on Glazer’s each year to support the organization’s Spark! Fundraiser. “It’s a big deal in terms of [financial] impact and it’s a big deal in terms of a breakaway from a very longstanding practice.”

The report includes other nonprofit organizations who had to scramble this month to find other means to stock the bar for recent parties, including Arkansas Enterprises for the Developmentally Disabled and The Methodist Family Health Foundation.

An interesting angle from the report is that the company’s decision only affects Southern Glazer’s Arkansas customers.


Glazer’s sent an email to customers May 4 notifying them of the immediate change, which a company official said was a business decision that will help reduce costs in Arkansas. The privately held wholesale alcohol provider, with offices in North Little Rock, is based in Miramar, Fla., and is the largest wine and spirits distributor in the nation, covering 45 U.S. markets and Canada.


The decision only affects Arkansas operations, according to Rebecca Weaver, a company liaison for charitable contributions in the state. “Things change and times change,” Weaver said Monday. “Costs are increasing and getting higher.”

Bass gave more specifics on why the liquor donations are so important for fundraising events.

“This changes the nature of the profitability of nonprofit events, because alcoholic beverages can be a fairly large component,” Bass said. “For those of us who have been able to accept these donations, it changes the financial ramifications of your event when you have to pay for the alcohol.”


The party is not completely over. Glazer’s will still make a donation for one event per month, but it will only be providing — cue the guitar solo — table wine.


However, if there’s a valid permit in place, Glazer’s will provide spirits, wine and champagne for purchase, the email said. The Museum of Discovery’s Spark! fundraiser in November is one of the events that made the cut, according to Bass.

Glazer’s declined to give the specific reasons for its policy change, the report stated.