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Frequently Asked Questions About Restaurant Fundraisers

Interested in launching a restaurant fundraiser to support your cause or organization? Here are some frequently asked questions about setting up and running restaurant fundraisers!

What are examples of restaurant fundraisers?

There are a few restaurant fundraiser variations that you might propose to your business partners: 

  • Percentage nights/ongoing percentage contributions. In a percentage fundraiser, a restaurant contributes a portion of total sales or a portion of each individual purchase to a charity. These fundraisers can last for a day or longer, depending on the agreement between the charitable organization and the restaurant. 
  • Tip jars for charity. Restaurants might set out an additional tip jar for customers to contribute change or cash to go to a charity. 
  • Competing donation jars. This fundraiser involves restaurants setting out donation collection jars for two or more organizations and letting customers choose which organization they’d like to support. 

If you’re interested in hosting a short-term fundraiser, you might choose to have a percentage night and encourage all of your supporters or members to visit your restaurant partner on the same night. This can help build camaraderie within your group or supporter base. Or, if you’re interested in having an ongoing, passive fundraiser, a donation jar might be the way to go. 

Which restaurants offer fundraising opportunities? 

Plenty of restaurants offer percentage fundraisers and other types of fundraising initiatives. Here are a few chains that offer fundraising opportunities:

  • Chipotle offers 33% of event sales back to your cause.
  • Panera Bread offers 20% of sales from each fundraising event to your organization. 
  • Panda Express also offers 20% of event sales. 
  • Moe’s Southwest Grill offers unique build-your-own taco kit fundraisers, donating $5 to your cause for every taco kit sold. 

Contact local and chain restaurants in your area to ask about their fundraising opportunities. 

What types of organizations benefit most from restaurant fundraising events? 

Restaurant fundraisers can be helpful for a wide variety of organizations, including:

  • Schools
  • Nonprofits
  • Clubs/community organizations
  • Sports teams

A restaurant fundraiser can raise awareness of your organization in the local community while giving supporters a fun way to show their support!

What are the basic steps of running a restaurant fundraiser? 

You can set up and manage your restaurant fundraiser with just three easy steps: 

  1. Partner with a restaurant and agree on a fundraising initiative. This agreement might specify the percentage of sales that will go back to your cause, how long the fundraiser will last, and how you can collect the proceeds. 
  2. Promote your restaurant fundraiser to supporters. Encourage supporters to visit your restaurant partner to help earn funding for your cause. 
  3. Thank supporters and your restaurant partner. Show appreciation to supporters for helping out during your fundraiser. Also, be sure to send a big thank-you message or gift to your restaurant partner to thank them for their support. 

We’ll offer a few best practices for each of these steps in the next sections!

4 Best Practices for Asking Restaurants to Host a Fundraiser

Step one of planning your restaurant fundraising initiative is to connect with a restaurant partner to host the fundraiser with. Use these tips to increase your chances of receiving a favorable response from your restaurant partners: 

  1. Ask restaurants you’ve already partnered with in the past. The natural first place to look for restaurant fundraising partners is restaurants that have sponsored or worked with your organization in the past. You already have a preexisting relationship with these business owners, meaning they’re more likely to want to support your cause again. 
  2. Use existing connections to make introductions. For instance, if one of your organization’s members or employees knows someone who owns a local restaurant, ask if they’d be willing to introduce you. This can help you get your foot in the door a little easier. 
  3. Highlight the benefits that your restaurant partner will receive. Corporate social responsibility programs are becoming major priorities for businesses. By hosting your fundraising opportunity, businesses can prove that they’re responsible community stewards and that they’re invested in helping charitable organizations thrive. 
  4. Express gratitude before, during, and after the fundraiser. Communicate your gratitude to your restaurant partners immediately after you come to an agreement, during the fundraiser, and after the fundraiser. Use a combination of direct thank-you notes and public recognition efforts. For instance, you might thank your restaurant sponsor in your posts reminding supporters to come out and support your cause. This helps you build a positive, ongoing relationship with your restaurant partners, and hopefully secure their support for future fundraising endeavors!

5 Ways to Spread the Word about Your Restaurant Fundraiser

A strong marketing strategy can boost the success of your restaurant fundraiser. Use these platforms to spread the word:

  • Social media posts
  • Community flyers
  • Verbal announcements during group or team meetings
  • Email notifications
  • Text messages