Teaming up with a restaurant to run a fundraiser can be a low-maintenance way to help your nonprofit raise extra funds. Restaurants will often be keen to partner with you since they can gain customers and secure promotion from your fundraiser.
How Do Restaurant Fundraisers Work?
A restaurant fundraiser involves a group of diners eating at the venue on a specific day, with the profits being split between the organization and the restaurant. They can be themed around your mission or certain foods.
In this post, we cover each step that goes into running a successful restaurant fundraiser. Here’s a quick round-up before we dive into the details:
- Set Up A Fundraising Committee
- Choose a Partner Restaurant
- Arrange a Meeting With the Restaurant Manager
- Select a Fundraising Period
- Decide How the Proceeds Will Be Split
- Promote Your Restaurant Fundraiser
- Consider a Reservation System
- Thank Your Supporters After the Event
A Step-By-Step Guide to Running a Restaurant Fundraiser
Not sure how to plan your restaurant fundraising? Here’s what to think about to make sure everything goes to plan.
Step 1: Set Up A Fundraising Committee
A restaurant fundraiser can be a fairly low-maintenance event but setting up a fundraising committee can help it run without problems. Some of the tasks to delegate can include:
- Selecting a partner restaurant and liaising with them to confirm the details.
- Marketing the fundraiser
- Helping to decorate the restaurant
Step 2: Choose a Partner Restaurant
Since there are strong benefits for restaurants, finding one to partner with can be easier than you think.
Even if a restaurant hasn’t previously hosted a fundraiser, they may be interested in doing so. Your organization may be the first to suggest it!
National chains will often be happy to partner with you but smaller, locally run restaurants shouldn’t be discounted. Since they’re not as well-known, partnering with nonprofits for fundraisers can bring them, new customers. Plus, there are usually fewer organizations approaching them for fundraisers.
If you’re approaching local or smaller restaurants, you can contact them directly.
National chains will often have details about restaurant fundraisers on their website. You may need to fill out a form to make contact, which will usually go through to the corporate level.
If you’re not sure who to approach as a partner restaurant, ask your supporters where they like to dine. They may introduce you to restaurants you wouldn’t have considered. It can also be more likely that they’ll attend and help raise more funds if they’re already a fan of the venue.
Pro tip: Make sure that you choose a restaurant that will have enough capacity and flexibility. Some smaller restaurants may not be able to cope with a large number of customers, for example. You may need to think about creating a ticketing system in this situation.
The menu is another consideration, especially if you’re not planning a themed event. Quality of food and a wide choice of menu options can help improve the overall experience and raise more funds.
Step 3: Arrange a Meeting With the Restaurant Manager
Once you get some positive interest from a potential partner, try to set up a meeting with the manager. For larger restaurants or chains, it may be a different point of contact.
Having a face-to-face meeting with your contact can seal the deal.
Step 4: Select a Fundraising Period
Generally, restaurants will agree that funds can be raised in a specific period. This is often a fundraising night but can sometimes extend to days or even a week.
Pro tip: Ask your donors if there’s a particular day or time slot that will make them more likely to attend. They may prefer a weekday lunch slot or a weekend evening, for example. This can help avoid scheduling your restaurant fundraiser for a time that won’t appeal to many of your supporters.
Step 5: Decide How the Proceeds Will Be Split
Most restaurants will agree to split the proceeds raised from the fundraiser but the exact amount can vary.
It’s common to receive a 10-20% split but you can try to negotiate a better deal. You can emphasize the future business they may receive and the impact the funds will have on your cause.
Some restaurants will split up to 50% of proceeds, for example. Alternatively, they may offer a lower split but for more than one night.
When you’re weighing up the pros and cons of a specific split, think about the menu prices and how much people are likely to be spending during the fundraiser.
A lower split can raise more funds if the restaurant takes a lot of money while a higher split can be less lucrative if the menu prices are low, for example.
Pro tip: Restaurants may offer a deal that depends on the number of diners present on the night or the amount that is spent by customers. Make sure you’re aware of the details of the proposed deal and how much you’re likely to receive from it.
Step 6: Promote Your Restaurant Fundraiser
Promote your restaurant fundraiser as widely as you can and ask your supporters to let their family, friends, and acquaintances know about it.
6.1 Email Supporters And Post Details On Social Media
If you’re promoting your restaurant fundraiser on Facebook, create a Facebook event for it and ask supporters to confirm they’re attending. Their Facebook friends will receive a notification about the event, which helps increase your event’s organic reach.
6.2 Use Flyers
Flyers can also be an effective promotion tool. Keep them concise and include important details such as the date, time, location, and a brief overview of what to expect.
Aim to provide the information people will need if they want to attend — without trying to cram too many details onto the flyer. You can include your contact details or a link to your organization’s website so that people can ask for further details if they have queries.
Be sure to mention your organization and the cause you’re fundraising for since this can encourage people to join you.
6.3 Promote In Local Media
Promote your restaurant fundraiser in the local newspaper and on local television and radio channels.
Step 7: Consider a Reservation System
Hopefully, your restaurant fundraiser will be a huge success and if this is the case, you might attract more diners than the venue can handle.
Since it’s vital for the restaurant to know how many people will have to be catered for, having a system can help the fundraiser run smoothly. This doesn’t need to be complicated and it can be as simple as asking people to confirm their interest in attending via email or a booking form.
Once you have an idea of numbers, you can pass the details onto the restaurant to help them cater effectively.
If your venue has a maximum capacity, highlighting that places are only available on a first-come-first-served basis can instill some urgency for booking.
Step 8: Thank Your Supporters After the Event
Once your restaurant fundraiser is over, make sure to thank your attendees. Helping them feel appreciated can lead to future donations. You can send them a thank you letter or call them to express your gratitude. Either way, it has the most impact if it’s done soon after the fundraiser.
Pro tip: If your supporters are happy for you to do so, you can tag them on social media to say thank you — event photos are perfect for this.
Over to You
Partnering with a restaurant to host a fundraiser can help raise funds and engage your donors.
Choosing the right restaurant to team up with is one of the biggest things to think about since it can affect the funds you can raise. Depending on your choice of venue, you may need to think about encouraging some urgency into your ticketing to avoid overstretching the restaurant.
Promoting your restaurant fundraiser is key too — to your donors and the wider community.
Here at Donorbox, our state-of-the-art donation system is helping over 30,000 organizations to streamline their fundraising and build stronger relationships with supporters.