When you are starting an organization or club on campus, you’ll typically need to fund raise. To be successful you will need new and fresh ideas, and that may be a challenge. To avoid wasting your time, money, and effort on an unsuccessful idea, we suggest that you choose the ideas that are most likely to be profitable. This is especially true when you are doing this for the first time.
Food-related and t-shirt fundraisers are ideal for new organizations. That’s because they require less effort and low cost to start them out. And, because everyone likes good food, it can be easy to make sales and make money. That said, here are a few ideas for profitable fundraisers for your new organization. Both standard and unusual fundraisers will work if you organize them properly.
Dining for a Percentage of the Profits
Let’s say you’re running a fundraiser for an animal shelter. In this case, choose a nearby restaurant like a popular pizza parlor. Choose the day, hand out flyers, and get a share of the proceeds from the restaurant for the patrons that you brought in on the day and at the time you choose.
In my experience, this works the best when you choose a popular restaurant that is easy to get to, has plenty of available parking, has affordable prices, offers good service, and has a nice range of popular food selections. The closer that you follow this formula, the more money your fundraiser will make.
Thinks to make sure of are that your restaurant will allow you to send flyers to customer’s phones. This way you won’t miss out if someone forgets to bring the flyer that you send them or was handed out to them. And, it lets you advertise on social media where you will get the most success. Fundraising through a local restaurant can work out very well.
Here is a list of some chain restaurants that offer fundraising, as well as some extra tips.
Run a Bake Sale
The reason that bake sales are so popular with charities and sports organization is that they are easy to organize and people always like sweets. You can get your group of volunteers to bake one of their favorites and bring it in to sell. Typically the volunteers will absorb the costs of making the food and devote their time. But, you need a group that knows what to do and enjoys doing it. Otherwise, they will see it as taking too much time, effort, and money out of pocket. Be sure to check local ordinances as some urban areas may to permit selling food without a license! In that case, you may choose to have a “no bake” sale
In this case, contact local bakeries who would like to get a little publicity by donating their products. It is always a good idea to start soliciting donations a few months early and in doing so be sure to explain your purpose, the good that your organization does, and the benefits the bakery will get. When you have enough folks lined up, set up your advertising and always include a big thank you to each of your donors.
It’s a smart idea to cast a broad net when looking for donations as not everyone will want to help out. When making a list of folks to approach, look on Yelp for desserts, cupcakes, or bakeries. You can also search for these terms along with the name of your city or neighborhood.
When setting up, choose an area that gets a lot of foot traffic and is not right in front of a bakery or dessert shop. Make sure to get permission to use the area and then decide on things like a color scheme, signage, and how many napkins, dessert plates, and cupcake boxes to have on hand.
You will want to make money but you need to set your prices within reason. Some folks will pay more a good treat and for a worthwhile cause which will work with a $1.50 cupcake but may not work so well with a $3.00 cupcake.
If you have the manpower, you can offer delivery to those who call in or contact you via the internet. When you advertise on the internet, you can take orders for home delivery.
And, rather than having a lot of leftovers, make sure to lower your prices later in the day so you make money on everything and don’t end up throwing away good food.
Take a look here for more ideas about how to run a fundraising bake sale.
Catered Dinners or Brunches
An economical and often-successful approach is to rent a room at your school (if this is possible). The price will be low or even free for the space. Then contact local restaurant or caterers and ask if they will donate services or at least work at a discount. If you put a little effort into this you can typically find someone. Then set up a menu and start selling tickets. Another good idea is to offer live entertainment or run a raffle that requires folks to be present to win. This link provides good advice for setting up a catered fundraiser.
Food Truck Fundraisers
This works like dining out for a percentage arrangement. But, you find an open space where a local food truck can show up and deliver their products. This can be a parking lot or an easy to access patio area. Take the time to contact enough food truck operations and you will probably find someone who will work with you and provide you with a share of their profits.
These arrangements usually require that you can guarantee at least 100 folks in attendance. That is when they will typically offer you a sliding scale of their profits starting at 10% and going as high as 25%. The work here is all on the front end it setting things up and not in making or selling the food.
Food Festival Fundraising
This approach may seem a bit overwhelming but a food festival can be a great fundraiser with the right planning, marketing, a suitable space and access to the right vendors. With the right ideas and food to sell this approach works well.
The first thing to consider is a theme. Everything from beer to bacon has been used. You can also go the ice cream route or offer baked goods but the idea is to choose an attractive theme for the time of year and location and then start to set it up.
Here is where you can find vendors who want exposure for their products and will offer free samples and discounts in return. This will be especially true of small, local startups and anyone who is not part of a national chain.
Here is where you need a lot of space like an outdoor mall or large multi-purpose room on your campus. Typically such events to best with a dozen or more vendors and room for folks to sit and eat, mingle, or just stroll around.
If you are aiming for a big turnout and profitable fundraiser, set up an account with Instagram or a page on Facebook. Eventbrite pages where you can see advance tickets work well. The usual price range for “free sample” events is between $5 and $20 with reasonable limits on the samples people get.
While you will want to have someone available to sell tickets at the door, you need a good idea in advance of your attendance so that vendors can come with the appropriate amount of stock. Press releases, announcements with local radio stations and TV news broadcasts work really well. If you know anyone who is a food blogger, get in touch with them as well.
Make sure that you offer enough space and sufficient seating. Grab bags with coupons from the local businesses at the event are popular and can be offered to the first folks who sign up and the first to arrive. Accessories that fit the theme, like beer steins or commemorative T-shirts can be a nice addition. Set this fundraiser up right for your school trip or other reason and you will very happy.
While the basic food themes are the most popular and likely to succeed, unusual themes like a bubble tea festival have worked as well with the right preparation. Sometimes a funny fundraising idea will catch on and be your most successful option!