55 Restaurant Fundraisers for Non-Profits
One of the best fundraisers today for non-profits, including schools, school PTAs or PTOs, Scout troops, high school booster organizations, and traveling sports teams, is a restaurant fundraiser.
My experience is that the organization will generally make less than $1000 at a fundraiser like this. Nevertheless, the power of face-to-face interaction at these events provides additional opportunities in the future to recruit volunteers and ask for additional help. As a member of a PTA, I have used this method to raise money consistently, year after year.
This type of fundraiser comes in two types: those that collect fundraising coupons and those that do not. For the first type, the restaurant gives the organization coupons to distribute to as many people as possible, and then those coupons are turned in to the restaurant on the designated night to determine how much money the organization gets. The second type still requires the organization to hand out flyers for the event, but the difference is that every order on the designated night is counted as part of the fundraiser.
I suggest finding restaurants that are close to your organization as they produce the best results. I have also found that fast-food restaurants tend to draw more traffic than sit-down restaurants. Finally, consider local traffic patterns when selecting a restaurant; a hard-to-get-to restaurant will not draw as well as one that is easy to get to.
Don't just think of lunch or dinner places either; switch it up and include an ice cream, yogurt, or juice shop. In fact, we have a lot of success in May with a local Oberweis Ice Cream parlor.
Listed below are restaurants that help not-for-profits raise money by creating these great fundraisers.
Great Tip: Advertise your Fundraiser Early and Often
One way to make your restaurant fundraiser a success is to advertise early and often. Make sure your organization knows the date and talks about it for a couple of weeks.
55 Restaurants and Ice Cream Shops Helping Local Organizations
These are restaurants I've used or that have been recommended by other readers. As always, check with your local restaurant, as some restaurants participate in their national program and some don't.
The links below link to a specific fundraising program, if one is available on the company website; otherwise they link to the general website so you can find a location near you.
US Beef Corp gives back 15% and owns many Arby's restaurants across the western part of the country from Illinois, Missouri, and Kansas to Idaho, Wyoming, and Colorado.
- BD's Mongolian Grill
Great way to fundraise for churches, PTA, and other non-profit organizations.
Bertucci's DINING FOR DOLLARS allows your organization to enjoy a great meal and raise money for a great cause. Bertucci's is located in the northeast of the United States and gives back 15%.
- BJ's Restaurant and Brewhouse Fundraisers
BJ's Restaurant and Brewhouse will host a fundraising event for your school, organization or charity. The standard fundraiser donates 15% of the total food and soft beverage purchase from guests who bring in flyers for your event.
- Blaze Pizza
Blaze pizza is located across the United States and provides 20% back to the organization.
- Boston Market: In-Store Fundraising Dinner
Boston Market provides a 15% donation on sales. They provide you with a flyer and event tickets.
- Bruster's Real Ice Cream
Every Brusters Real Ice Cream store offers fundraising options. Find a local store in most states east of the Mississippi.
- Buffalo Wild Wings
BWW has their Eat Wings, Raise Funds initiative that helps out local organizations near BWW restaurants.
- Buca di Beppo
A Buca Fundraising Event will earn 15% for your non-profit organization. These Italian restaurants offer family-style dishes great for sharing with all the participants in your fundraiser.
- Buona Beef
Chicago area Buona Beef restaurants have a Buona Benefits Night program, with 15% going back to the non-profit. If you like Italian Beef sandwiches that rival Portillos, this is your fundraiser.
- Burger King stores operated by Tri-City Foods
Tri-City Foods operates Burger King restaurants in six Midwestern states. They donate 20% of event sales (from a limited menu) to your not-for-profit organization.
- California Pizza Kitchen
CPK advertises 20% back through their fundraisers. CPK also has a great Scout program, where Scouts can make their own pizzas.
- Cheeburger Cheeburger
Cheeburger Cheeburger helps you every step of the way, from creating flyers to making the night fun.
- Chevys Fresh Mex
Chevys says it gives 20% back to nonprofits from fundraising events.
Chick-Fil-A offers four types of fundraisers; check with your local store.
Chipotle offers in-restaurant fundraisers to certain types of nonprofits including K-12 school groups. An online application is required.
- Chuck E. Cheese School Fundraisers
Chuck E. Cheese School Fundraisers receive 15% on sales. This is a great fundraiser for early grade school students.
- CiCi's Pizza Buffet
Cici's says to contact individual stores about fundraisers.
Culver's restaurants are usually locally owned and the owners are usually kid friendly.
- El Torito
Local California restaurants - 20% of net food sales (drinks excluded) generated will be donated back to you! Who’s eligible to throw a fundraising feast? Non-Profit Organizations: schools, churches, sports
- Elmer's Restaurants
Not all Elmer's Restaurants participate in Restaurant Nights, so be sure to call your local Elmer's in the states of Washington, Idaho, Oregon, and California.
- 54th Street
54th Street restaurants are located in St Louis and Kansas City, Missouri, and San Antonio and Dallas / Fort Worth, Texas. A fundraising event for your school, organization or charity can earn 15% of the sales.
- Foster's Grille: Home Of The Charburger
Foster's "Dining for Dollars" program will give back 10% to your non-profit organization. Foster's Grille has family restaurants in Virginia, Florida, Maryland, and North Carolina.
- Friendly's - Fundraising
Friendly's typically do their in-restaurant fundraisers on Monday, Tuesday, or Wednesday.
Another restaurant where I have seen advertisements for Fundraisers.
- Go Roma
Go Roma Community Partners, their fundraising program, makes it simple for organizations to raise money by planning an event and eating at Go Roma restaurants.
- Greene Turtle Sports Bar & Grille
The Greene Turtle Sports Bar & Grille helps local organizations through its Funds for Friends program on selected Tuesdays. This restaurant is in Virginia and Maryland.
- Isaac's Famous Grilled Sandwiches
A community night at Isaac's will earn your organization 25%. Issac's are located in south-central Pennsylvania.
- Jamba Juice
Jamba Juice offers beverages, smoothies, juices, and snacks. They offer discount cards and catering for fundraising events.
- Jersey Mike's Subs
Jersey Mike's recently opened a shop in our neighborhood and did a great job partnering with all the local schools.
- Kona Ice
All across the country, Kona Ice LOVES to give back to schools, sports teams and organizations. Since 2007, Kona has raised over $3 million for local communities. This is a little different in that Kona comes to your event.
- Lone Star Steakhouse
Lone Star's Dine & Donate is an easy way to raise money for your charity. They will donate 15% of your guests' checks back to you.
- Lou Malnati's Pizzeria
Another favorite Chicagoland pizzeria offering a fundraiser night with 20% going back to the non-profit.
- Maggie Moo's
Call your local Maggie Moo's ice cream place to see if they participate in an event you can host that's called Celebrity Scoop Night.
- Marie Callender's Restaurant & Bakery
Marie Callender's offers two types of fundraisers: pie sales and dining-in (percentage policy for the latter not explicit on the website).
- Margaritas Mexican Restaurant
Margaritas Mexican Restaurant offers a unique and authentic Mexican dining experience featuring traditional Mexican recipes and decor.
- Max & Erma's
Max & Erma's advertise 20% return on their website and give some great tips for a successful fundraiser.
Some local McDonald's have local nights. Check with yours, as this is always a kids' favorite.
- Moe's Southwest Grill
Moe's makes fundraising for your non-profit organization fun and easy.
- Ninety-Nine Restaurants
Ninety-Nine Restaurants' "Dining for a Cause" nights are great across the New England area.
- Noodles & Company Fundraisers
Noodles & Company offers fundraising events yielding a percentage of sales. Contact a local manager for details.
- Oberweis Ice Cream Stores
Oberweis Ice Cream offers fundraising events where you get a percentage of sales.
- Panda Express
Let Panda Express help you raise money for your school, organization, club or team. Tell friends and family to dine in or take-out at Panda Express and 20% of the event sales will be donated to your organization.
- Panera Bread: Fundraising Nights
Panera has a sliding scale for payouts with the top payout at 20%. On the minus side is that if you don't get at least 20 orders, then you don't get a dime.
- Pei Wei Asian Diner
Pei Wei will donate 20% of proceeds to your non-profit organization that supports culture, art, and diversity. You can choose lunch or dinner fundraisers.
- Pizzeria Uno Chicago Grill: Dough Raisers
Dough Raisers earn up to 20% of sales.
- Potbelly Sandwich Shop
Raise 25% for your not-for-profit organization by hosting a Restaurant Night. Or for smaller organizations, run a Shake Fundraiser.
- Red Robin Gourmet Burgers
An in-restaurant fundraiser is available for schools.
- Roti Mediterranean Grill
Roti offers 20% to non-profit groups.
- Rubio's School and Church Fundraisers
Rubio's offers fundraisers for schools, church groups, sports groups, philanthropic causes or other non-profit initiatives.
Contact your local Sonic drive-in about whether they offer fundraising events.
- Souplantation and Sweet Tomatoes
Souplantation and Sweet Tomatoes advertise their Fun-Raisers. Give it a try if you have one in your neighborhood. 15% is returned to the organization.
Each local Wendy's is different. We always get a great crowd when going to our local Wendy's on a school night.
- Yogurtini Fundraisers
Yogurtini offers a delicious and fun way to raise money for your non-profit group. Located in Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Kansas, Missouri, and Nebraska.
Is There a Restaurant Missing?
If you've fundraised at a restaurant not on the list above, let me know, and I'll add it to the list. As this list grows, I've decided to add only restaurants that have a clear fundraising policy.
A lot of restaurants will help with a community fundraiser if you ask, but unless the chain has a clear policy for fundraisers, it will be up to each restaurant manager whether they will help or not.
How to Set Up a Restaurant Fundraiser
So you've decided your not-for-profit's next fundraiser is going to be at a restaurant. Here's how to set up the event and get the best results possible.
1. Start planning your fundraiser at least 30 days in advance.
2. Work with your group to pick a couple of dates for the fundraisers. Restaurants will want to do them during the week, so make sure you have dates on Monday through Thursday.
3. Find a local restaurant to help you. The restaurant should be local and convenient to get to within a few minutes in evening traffic.
4. You have a day and you have a restaurant. Now it is time to promote. Some restaurants will give you flyers and stickers to hand out; some have you do your own. If you need to have the flyers brought back into the restaurant for your organization to get credit, make sure you get the flyers out to the public. For elementary schools, see if the fundraising restaurant will throw in a class party for the class with the biggest turnout. Use email. Use Facebook. You get the picture: get the notice out to everyone in the neighborhood to stop by.
5. Get volunteers to help you the day of the fundraiser. Have people greeting your group as they come in the door. Some restaurants will let fundraisers work behind the counter. Wendy's has allowed us to use their Wendy's outfit: it's always a hoot to see a principal dressed up and serving at one of these events. Bring your mascot costume as well.
6. Have fun! When everyone hears about the great time people had at the fundraiser, more will show up at the next one.
Create a Theme for Each Fundraiser
This year, our PTA is trying themes for each restaurant night. For example, instead of doing all family nights, we are going to try a Moms' Night Out. Don't underestimate the power of a theme.
Learning About Fundraising
I find the best ideas come from experience. Once you've tried something and it works or doesn't work, you learn from that experience and move on to the next one.
Finding ideas is pretty easy: go out and talk to the community, or the businesses in your community, to see what they have done and what were the results. Above all else, keep trying and experimenting.