5 tips to prepare your restaurant for fall fundraisers
Summer’s here! It’s time for sunshine, days at the pool, refreshing beverages, and… fall fundraiser preparation. You read that right – peak fundraiser season is just around the corner! If you’re managing a restaurant that hosts fundraisers, it’s probably pretty quiet right now on the application front, but that will change soon…
Using Force4Good data, to show you fundraiser trends and seasonality. The takeaway: fundraisers closely follow the school calendar, peaking in the early fall and spring of each school year, while dipping significantly in the summer.
As school starts back up this fall, organizations will host their first meetings of the school year and one of the main topics on the agenda will be how they’ll raise money during the semester. With restaurant fundraisers growing in popularity as easy and meaningful ways for nonprofits to raise funds, you can be sure restaurants will get a mention as a fundraising avenue – so let’s make sure your restaurant gets a specific callout!
On the Force4Good platform, organizations can request fundraisers typically as far out as 90 days, which means come July 1, the entire month of September will be open to receive requests.
That said, let’s dive into the top 5 things you can do now to begin preparing your restaurant and team for fundraisers this fall.
Tip 1: Set your fundraiser availability
While fundraisers are a great way to boost sales, you may not want to host one every night of the week (though you certainly could!). To make sure your restaurant is ready to receive requests soon, review your restaurant’s calendar for the upcoming months alongside sales reporting to determine the optimal days of the week for fundraisers. On the Force4Good platform, it looks like this:
From the Force4Good calendar, days can be easily blocked out or made available for partners to apply.
Pro tip: Many restaurants choose to host fundraisers on their lowest sales days. This is a solid strategy: it provides a sales boost (which managers love), and also avoids adding an event to your restaurant’s already peak “busy” hours (which team members appreciate). Be mindful that many nonprofits and schools like to host events during the week, so be sure to have a few weekdays included.
Tip 2: Create meaningful marketing materials and begin advertising now
If you’re hoping to have a busy fundraising fall, now is the time to start advertising. In-store signage is a simple and effective way to market your program. Consider creating a one-sheeter or 4×6 info card that highlights your fundraising program and how partners can sign up. Regarding in-store signage, dedicating a menu board or window space for a poster is a great place to start. We’ve also found that keeping fundraiser program info cards at the register or point of purchase (POP) for customers to grab can be an almost effortless way to spread the word. Lastly, consider placing these cards in customers’ to-go bags or catering orders to schools or local businesses – this can be a game changer!
If you already partner with Force4Good, we’ve created template fundraiser program info cards that are easy for your restaurant and brand to download and customize – just reach out to your Force4Good fundraising administrator for more info.
Tip 3: Market to the guests already in your restaurant
Another huge benefit of restaurant fundraisers is the reality that you don’t need to go far to advertise your fundraiser program. Your future fundraising partners are likely people you already know and see on a regular basis in your restaurant. While “Four Walls Marketing” is a must-have for restaurants in general, it’s also a great practice to identify fundraising opportunities.
In practice, this means simply speaking with guests already in your restaurant that may be interested in a fundraiser – for example, a group of parents with kids in soccer jerseys coming in after a game. Another easy opportunity is a teacher or volunteer from a nonprofit coming in to pick up a catering order before a big meeting. (Pro tip: Those information cards we mentioned before? Have these on-hand to hand out during these conversations or place in a catering order.)
Four Walls Marketing is a fantastic way to build your fundraiser program and make meaningful relationships with guests who are already fans of your restaurant. They may even market to their respective groups on your behalf!
Tip 4: Prepare and train staff
This tip may be the most crucial of all: make sure your staff and management are well aware of your fundraiser program, how it works, and when events are happening. Have a section of your training manual dedicated to fundraisers for all new staff. Discuss the program weekly in shift meetings. And on the day of a fundraiser, be sure to call out the event in shift meetings and on back-of-house bulletin boards or signage.
If staff are unaware of a fundraiser as it’s happening, it can be detrimental for your program and relationship with the organizer. They may think that the event they spent time organizing and marketing isn’t important to you, or worse, that your team isn’t tabulating sales on their behalf. A little awareness goes a long way here.
The Force4Good platform includes automated emails that go to restaurant management and fundraiser organizers to make sure all parties are on the same page and aware of their upcoming fundraisers.
Tip 5: Notice your current pain points and adjust
If your restaurant is new to fundraisers or you’re new to your restaurant, the slower summer months provide an excellent opportunity to observe your restaurant in action and improve pain points before the busy fundraiser season arrives. Some common issues to be aware of:
- Restaurant staff being unaware and unprepared for fundraisers.
- Being understaffed for a fundraiser, i.e. staff being unable to effectively run the restaurant during the event. While fundraiser organization and execution is made simple on the Force4Good platform, your own internal procedures may vary. Be sure there are enough staff members to prepare food, tend to guests, and clean the dining room.
- Sales being tallied correctly by restaurant staff and POS system.
- Is it easy for fundraising guests to attend the event? E.g. Place their order, navigate the restaurant, find places to congregate, etc.
Noticing these friction points and making adjustments will help your fundraisers be stress-free and enjoyable, with benefits to both your restaurant team and fundraiser partners.
Ready to make your fundraisers rock?
While there’s still time to prepare for the upcoming fundraiser season, any preparation you can tackle now will pay dividends this fall when your restaurant inevitably gets busier. We hope these tips help you prepare for and navigate a profitable, stress-free fundraiser season. It will be here before you know it!