Don’t Hate, “DONATE” with a Plan! Tips for Charitable Fundraising at Your Restaurant!
It’s that time of year again…back to school and back to a more rigid routine. What does this mean for restaurant owners? Likely, request after request for donations to support schools, groups, and organizations as they begin their campaigns to raise funds. Unfortunately, you can’t support them all. If you did, you may no longer be in business. But for the ones that you do support, why not establish fundraising opportunities that you offer and master so that the experience is easier for everyone?
Check out this list of ideas that you can use for your restaurant. If these ideas aren’t for you, maybe they can at least get your mind rolling with some other fundraising ideas that your restaurant can offer.
- Donate coupons or gift cards to teachers at your local schools. The teachers can then present these coupons or cards to students who have good attendance, show academic improvement, and good citizenship in school. You can do this monthly, every other month, or several times a year.
- Sell group fundraising cards like Peel-A-Deal to organizations at a discount. You get the money up front and the organization does the rest. The only thing you need to do is order the cards, decide what coupon offers will be included on the cards and how much you are going to charge the organization per card. It’s common that the organization purchases the card for half of what you charge them, typically $5 for a $10 card.
- Host nights where a date is set with the organization and a certain percentage of the sales that evening are donated to their cause. You can even narrow it down to dining visits within a specific time frame as well as to a specific menu item. But, be careful not to narrow it down too much or the amount of funds you raise will be limited. Hoss’s Family Steak & Sea House is a restaurant who offers this type of program with their dine-in fundraisers.
- Offer a t-shirt fundraiser where a certain percentage of each t-shirt sold by the organization goes to their cause. The t-shirt, sporting both your restaurant logo and the organization logo, can be custom made for purchase with an agreed upon design. Every time that shirt is worn, it advertises your restaurant. You can even accomplish this idea using trendy bracelets or hats.
- Offer to cater an organization’s charitable event instead of making a monetary donation. This will allow attendees of the event to get a taste of your food while you offer your support. You will not only help the organization by saving them time and money in food preparation, but you’ll gain some new customers along the way.
- If your restaurant is in a high traffic location, offer space in your parking lot for a car wash (if accessible), a car trunk garage sale, or a flea market where funds raised go toward the group involved. You will likely get visitors strolling in to your restaurant for a bite to eat.
Benefits to Fundraising/Donations
There are so many benefits to fundraising within your community, benefits that will likely outweigh the cost to you.
- First and foremost, contributing provides you with a sense of pride knowing that you offered support to your community. It just feels good to give and nothing can beat that feeling.
- Tax deductions are available for charitable contributions to nonprofit organizations. There are specific guidelines with these tax deductions so make sure that you have documentation of each transaction, like a check or receipt. These items are necessary for your accountant.
- Sponsoring or donating gets your name out in the community. If your logo is on a group fundraising card or t-shirt, it will be seen and recognized. People are likely to support your business knowing that you are invested in the well-being of the community.
- It’s a great marketing tool! Let your customers know that you support the community on your website and on social media platforms. Posts, pictures, and hash tags are all great ways to get noticed.
So let’s say you decide to move forward with one of the fundraising ideas that are suggested above. Or, you currently have a fundraising program that isn’t working the way you want it to. We want to help! Here are some recommendations that will help you with implementing or changing your program to make the whole process much simpler
- Have a clear set of rules about giving to make it easier for you to identify who you will support. For example, maybe you’d like to only offer support to schools within your local community and groups directly related to that school. Therefore, if someone comes to you looking for donations from another school, you can graciously decline based on those clear rules.
- Create a budget for donations. Once you hit that limit, you’ve met your quota and that’s that.
- Create a policy where donation requests need to be in writing and at least one month before the event. Or, look into technology that helps with donation management like the Automated Item Request System or AIRS. This type of system makes the process so much faster and easier for you.
- Don’t beat around the bush. If you can’t or don’t want to donate, give a direct no. Leading people to believe that you are interested in helping will only make them want it more. If you are direct and give a no by following the above rules, you will have more success with repeat solicitors.
There are no if’s, and’s, or but’s about it; funds and donations are always going to be needed. Whether you choose to support them or not, schools, clubs, and organizations will be strolling in to ask for your financial support. With a well thought out plan and established limits on the opportunities that you offer, your fundraising process can be extremely manageable and benefit everyone in the process.