Make the most of restaurant fundraiser opportunities by being prepared and focusing your marketing efforts to take advantage of online resources! Thousands of restaurants across the country actively support nonprofits by offering percentage of sales fundraising opportunities.
For example, Chuck E. Cheese’s has given more than $10 million to schools by giving back 15% of sales to schools on particular days in local communities.
Here is a step-by-step guide to
1) find the best venues for your particular size nonprofit or group and
2) advertise your fundraiser with little time and cost to raise the most net profit for your cause.
1. Picking a Restaurant Fundraiser
Thousands of restaurants will partner with you for a fundraising event, as it is generally added business for them and helps them advertise to new networks. The difficult part is picking the best one with which to partner. Follow these steps to find the perfect one for you:
- Identify your resources: Make a list of all of the local restaurants that offer fundraising nights near your office, program site, or school; or approach restaurants that you really like and ask if they might be interested in hosting a fundraising event. New restaurants might jump at the opportunity! You may already know that certain national chains, like Max and Erma’s and Arby’s, offer fundraising nights, but you might not know about smaller, locally owned cafes and venues that want to take part as well.
- Profile your supporters: Now that you have a list, you need to think about which restaurants are more likely to be visited by your members and supporters. For example, if you are a school, you want to have your fundraiser at a location like Chuck E. Cheese’s or a family-friendly restaurant. An art museum might choose an independent, foreign cuisine locale in their neighborhood on the other hand.
- Analyze the programs for rate of return: Now that you have your list narrowed down, compare your restaurants’ programs and pick the one that will have the highest rate of return:
- If a restaurant only offers 10% back but its menu is more expensive, you will make more money, so consider the price and average customer spending as well as the percentage offered. A fast food restaurant or coffee shop might give 20%, but 10% of more formal dining at a family sit-down restaurant will pay back much more.
- In addition, some programs last for a whole day or even a week while others are just fundraising “nights.” Your supporters might not be likely to go out on a Monday night, but would eat lunch on a Saturday.
- Also, some programs require you to pay for advertising and send a coupon to supporters, which is a cost to your organization. It might be worth it, but it might end up costing you more to advertise for the event with a paper flyer. Look for events that let you email a coupon that can be shown on a Smartphone when they go to dine, or that only require a verbal acknowledgement of participation.
- You also need to consider how far in advance you need to apply. Some popular restaurants have year wait lists!
2. Advertising Your Fundraising Night
Now that you have a restaurant identified and your night or fundraising day scheduled with them, you need to advertise your event to as many people as possible for it to be successful. Follow these steps to save time and cost:
- Identify your networks: Brainstorm all of the advertising channels you have available to you including:
- Social networks, both organizational and personal via volunteers and staff;
- Email lists, both organizational and personal;
- Organizational newsletters, websites, and blogs;
- Partners that have wide reaches and newsletters; and
- Newspaper and media outlets.
- Develop a web-friendly flyer/coupon for your supporters with simple messaging and post it on your website, in your newsletter, and within all other available media outlets.
- Send email blasts, tweets, and social media posts for the event every day the week of the event.
- Ask people to RSVP that they will go to the event and add a link for them to add it directly to their cell phone or email calendar. The commitment, though not formal, makes people much more likely to actually attend.
- If you have a visible, well-visited site or program, print flyers to hand out to visitors and program participants.
- Give an incentive to all employees, volunteers, board members, and others close to your work to bring the most people to the restaurant for the event. You can make this a small competition by offering a donated prize or a day off of work!
You can make a good return on a fundraising night at a local restaurant with little legwork if you research adequately, profile your supporters correctly, and spend a bit of time advertising.
The keys are to not skip steps and to invest as little capital as possible while still blasting the word!