Restaurant fundraisers have become a staple of many fundraising coordinators’ strategies. But while some bring in $100, others earn more than $1,000. What makes for restaurant fundraising success?
Restaurant fundraising platform GroupRaise analyzed thousands of restaurant fundraisers between August 2020 and March 2021 to discover any correlations between restaurant or event characteristics and average funds raised for a fundraiser.
They found that the most successful restaurant fundraisers happened:
- At restaurants giving back 30% or more
- At restaurants offering alternative or off-premises order methods such as take-out and delivery
- At restaurants offering digital fundraisers by accepting website orders
- At restaurants with average meal prices of $10 or more
- On Tuesdays
- On behalf of elementary school groups
Read on to learn more about the 6 trends and how you can optimize your next restaurant fundraiser for the highest chances of success!
Quick Note: The findings below are based on correlation, not causation. Your fundraiser won’t automatically be more successful just because you booked on a Tuesday, for example. Online and offline fundraiser promotion efforts, group size, and many more factors can influence the final amount raised. However, every little bit counts and you may find a benefit from incorporating the elements below into your decision-making process.
1. 30% or more donation rate
It’s no wonder that the higher the restaurant’s donation rate, the more you can earn for your cause.
The math holds up on a large scale too. From August 2020 to March 2021, the average amount of funds raised was 49% higher for events at restaurants giving back 30% or more compared to events at restaurants giving back less than 30%.
While most restaurants give back 15-25%, you may want to go for one giving back a higher percentage. For example, Chipotle’s fundraiser percentage is at 33%, provided your event achieves a minimum of $150 in sales. You can see a list of other fundraising restaurants here, along with their donation percentages.
2. Alternative or off-premises order methods
Fundraisers at restaurants with flexible order options such as take-out, delivery, drive-thru, and pick-up earned an average donation amount 25% higher than fundraisers at restaurants who only offered dine-in.
It makes sense that restaurant fundraisers with alternative order methods had a better turnout. Supporters could easily participate in the way that fit in with their busy schedules and made them most comfortable, which could mean ordering from their couch!
Choosing a restaurant with alternative order methods makes it as easy as possible for people to participate however they like, which can increase the chances of your fundraiser’s success.
3. Digital fundraisers via website orders
In addition to enjoying their restaurant meal at home, fundraiser participants have clearly valued the ability to order online. Having website orders enabled correlated with a 19% higher average donation amount.
To make sure they know which orders are part of the fundraiser, restaurants let the fundraising group know ahead of time to either use a unique code or attach an order comment mentioning the fundraiser.
Just like off-premises meal options, going digital with your fundraiser is a great way to remove obstacles to participation.
Chipotle’s digital fundraisers have become popular and now most restaurants with fundraising programs are also opening up online participation.
4. $10 or more average meal price
Going back to the math, a $10 or more average meal price at a restaurant can translate into a bigger return for your fundraiser, to the tune of 13% more in average donation amount, based on results from August 2020-March 2021.
Most restaurants have an average meal price of about $10 anyways, but don’t be afraid to go a bit more (so now’s your time to add the guac). Supporters usually spend more during restaurant fundraisers, compared to a regular restaurant meal, because they know any extra dollars are helping a great cause in addition to purchasing a delicious meal.
Even though Wednesdays and Thursdays were more popular restaurant fundraising days, events on Tuesdays had the highest average donation amount, 20% more than the rest of the week averaged together.
After Tuesdays, the event days in order of average earnings were Mondays, Thursdays, Wednesdays, Sundays, Fridays, and finally Saturdays.
The best time to fundraise can actually be a weekday. As people are more likely to check out on the weekends and have other plans.
6. Elementary school groups
Restaurant fundraising can benefit all sorts of groups, from college clubs to nonprofits, but elementary school groups have seen the most success in recent years.
Fundraisers on behalf of elementary schools earned an average donation amount 43% higher than the average of other group types.
Getting a restaurant meal is an easy way for busy parents to feed their family and participate in a community fundraiser at the same time, which may account for why elementary school groups do so well with restaurant fundraisers.
To Wrap Up
For higher chances of an effective restaurant fundraiser, choose your restaurant carefully, preferring high donation rates, flexible order options, and $10+ average meal prices. Then, pick a day that works well for your group, ideally a weekday.
If you’re raising for a school, definitely give restaurant fundraising a try. If you’re raising for another cause, it’s still worth a go! After all, who wouldn’t want to enjoy a delicious meal in support of their favorite cause? Click here to apply with Chipotle now or view other fundraising restaurants here.
About the author: Laura Bilsborrow writes content for GroupRaise, a restaurant fundraising platform that connects local individuals and groups who want to host a fundraiser with restaurants in their area. GroupRaise works with over 10,000 restaurant locations in all 50 states and helps local schools, sports teams, nonprofits, and more organizations raise funds for their causes. To find out more, visit www.GroupRaise.com.