In-store fundraisers (a.k.a. on-site fundraisers, restaurant nights, or giveback campaigns) can be a lot of fun and excitement for both hosting venues and the organizations inviting supporters to dine or shop. Before doing one for the first time with a new venue or organization, it's a good idea to get these details clarified in order to set expectations for both sides.
1. What percentage of sales will be donated to the charity?
It is quite common for a store or restaurant to donate around 15%-25% of sales, or a specific dollar amount per package or service sold. However, percentages can vary, and there could be exclusions, such as alcohol, gift cards, or specific product lines. Make sure to confirm the timeline of the event, whether donations will apply to sales all day or only during certain hours, and if there is a minimum number of guests or total sales required for payout.
2. Can the event be held over the weekend?
It is very common for a restaurant to hold giveback fundraisers between Sunday-Thursday, so as to avoid their busiest times during weekends. Stores may have similar policies depending on their sales and other special events as well. Consider exploring other creative options, such as a late brunch or early lunch for a restaurant not normally open in the morning, or even longer-term fundraisers focusing on online or gift card sales for up to a month or more.
3. Will the percentage donated include all sales, or only those from guests referred by the organization?
Be sure to clarify whether the percentage of sales to be donated will be limited to only those who bring in a specific flyer, use a code, or mention the recipient organization, or all sales during the time period. It is also best to find out whether coupons and other promotions can be used during your event and/or affect the amounts you earn.
4. Does the percentage of sales include both food and drink items? Does this include alcoholic drinks as well?
Depending on the restaurant, venues may only donate a percentage of food sold, some include both food and non-alcoholic drink sales, while others will donate a percentage of everything sold. Partnering to create a signature drink or dessert for the event can also drive additional sales-based donations.
5. How will the business help market the event? And what type of promotions can the organization do?
What marketing materials will the restaurant provide to the organization? It’s important to think ahead about how to make promotion easier through social media, flyers, e-mail newsletters, message boards, and online calendars. It is common for a restaurant to provide the charity with a flyer to be used for tracking sales and promotion. However, many businesses will not allow the charity to distribute the flyer immediately outside the venue during the time of the event, such as in the parking lot, so it's necessary to market the event in advance. If the fundraiser is at a store or boutique, find out if shoppers can arrive early and put items on hold to purchase during the event. Ask also if purchases can be made online, which would invite sales from out-of-towners.
7. How can the event be personalized?
One of the best ways to increase event attendance and traffic is to be creative and feature something unique, such as teachers cooking or serving food; an officer, director, or the school band performing; a special discount; or a raffle for a coveted prize or experience, donated by the venue in conjunction with the charity. If there are any limitations based on insurance or capacity, be sure to figure those out ahead of time, too!
6. How will the organization receive the donation?
After all sales are tallied, when and how will the organization be receiving the donation? It’s common for a restaurant to prepare a check for pickup within a few weeks from the date of the event, mail it, or even electronically deposit the funds into the organization's account. Some states have deadlines for how quickly funds must be transferred, so it's always a good idea to refer to your state's Attorney General's office for help.
Great partnerships begin with a clear understanding of what each partner brings and what to expect. We hope these ideas enable you to ask the right questions, clarify details, get creative, drive more sales, and raise more money!