California state liquor law generally prohibits a retail licensee from donating alcoholic beverages.
But there are a few exceptions.
The exceptions involve donating to certain organizations holding a temporary license. Those organizations a retailer may donate alcoholic beverages to are:
1. A member-supported television station, which is also a non-profit charitable corporation, holding a temporary off-sale beer and wine license OR a non-profit charitable corporation that receives and administers donations for public television holding a temporary package off-sale beer and wine license.
In either case, the temporary license only entitles the temporary licensee to sell the donated beer and wine at auction. (Section 24045.2 Business & Professions Code)
2. A women’s educational and charitable organization, which holds a temporary off-sale beer and wine license, “that is a part of a national organization having at least 10 chapters in California at least one of which has been incorporated since 1928, whose purpose is to foster interest among its members in the social, economic and civic conditions of their community and to give effective volunteer service.”
In addition, the temporary license only entitles the women’s organization to sell the donated beer and wine at auction for charitable purposes. The law further states, “None of the funds realized from this auction shall be used for administrative expenses of the auction and all funds shall be placed in trust for a charitable purpose.” (Section 24045.3 Business & Professions Code)
3. Certain non-profit corporations who have a special temporary on-sale or off-sale wine license. The temporary licensee may only sell the donated wine to a consumer and to any person holding a license authorizing the sale of wine.
This license is good for up to 15 days. If the license is issued for a period more than two days, then it can only be used “solely for retail sales in conjunction with an identifiable fundraising event sponsored or conducted by the licensee and all bottles of wine sold under this license shall bear a label prominently identifying the event.”
The ABC may only issue three of these special licenses to any corporation in a calendar year. (Section 24045.6 Business & Professions Code)
4. A member-supported television or broadcasting station who has a temporary on-sale beer and wine license. The retail licensee may also serve that beer or wine he/she donated at any event so licensed.
The ABC may only issue one such temporary license (valid for 30 days) to the television or broadcasting station per calendar year. (Section 24045.9 Business & Professions Code)
In summary, there aren’t many situations where a retail licensee can donate alcohol. And although the laws cited above permit a retail licensee to donate alcohol to the above organizations, the laws specifically say the donation cannot be made in connection with a sale of an alcoholic beverage.