Fundraising for Small Groups Newsletter

A free newsletter with fundraising ideas, tips, and secrets for the small nonprofit fundraiser

November 21, 2018

Get an email update every time I publish a new fundraising article!

Your Name:

Your E-mail Address:

I promise never to sell, rent, or give your email address to anyone else. PERIOD!

Bookmark Fundraiser
Share Fundraiser
 Subscribe in a reader

Custom Search


Subscribe Free

Why Subscribe?

About Us

About Us
Contact Us

Article Archive

Managing a Fundraiser

Fundraising Strategies

Fundraising Ideas

Fundraising Products

Fundraising Events

Fundraising Resources

Fundraising Volunteers

Fundraising with Restaurant Nights

by Deane Brengle

Many restaurants offer nonprofit groups a popular way to fundraise with "Restaurant Night" fundraisers.

Here's how it works: The restaurant gives your group a percentage of the sales on a designated night for all the customers that your organization brings to their business. Most of the time the restaurant will limit your available nights to a week night- usually one their slow nights.

A restaurant night fundraiser requires virtually no planning and very little investment from your group. If the restaurant requires a flyer or coupon to be presented for your group to receive credit, it will often print those up themselves.

Why does a restaurant participate and even encourage this type of fundraiser?

  • It makes the restaurant look good. Giving back to the community enhances their corporate image.
  • It fills the restaurant on a slow night.
  • It introduces people to the restaurant that might not visit otherwise.

What kinds of restaurants hold restaurants night fundraisers? Almost every kind:

  • Applebees
  • Arby's
  • Baja Fresh
  • Big Boy
  • Black-Eyed Pea
  • Boston Market
  • Burger King
  • Carl Jr's
  • Chevy's Mexican Restaurants
  • Chick-fil-A
  • Chipotle
  • Chili's
  • CiCi's Pizza
  • Culvers
  • Fazoli's
  • Fresh Choice
  • Friendly's
  • Fudruckers
  • Jack-in-the-Box
  • Jersey Mike's
  • KFC
  • La salsa Fresh Mexican Grill
  • Loco's Deli
  • Maggie Moo's
  • Max & Erma's
  • McAlister's Deli
  • McDonalds
  • Mongolian BBQ
  • O'Charley's
  • Outback Steakhouse
  • Panera Bread
  • Papa Murphy's
  • Pizza Hut
  • Pizzeria Uno
  • Ponderosa
  • Rio Bravo
  • Sonic
  • Sweet Tomatoes
  • Subway
  • Taco Cabana
  • Tortuga's
  • TRU
  • Wendy's
  • Zany Brainy
Be aware that although many chain and franchise restaurants are available for fundraising, the decision to do so is up to the individual restaurant operator. And terms of the fundraiser will vary from restaurant to restaurant, even within the same chain and city sometimes. Some may make you present a coupon, tell the waitress in advance, drop receipts in a box, or order only certain things on the menu to qualify.

Many locally owned restaurants are also eager to host your restaurant night fundraiser too. Don't forget to add them to your potential list of restaurants to call on. They often will offer you a better deal than the chains and franchisees.

Any restaurant that you, or a member of your nonprofit group, have a personal connection to via the owner, operator, manager, or worker also may offer you a better deal.

How to hold a successful restaurant night fundraiser

The secret to having a successful restaurant night fundraiser rests with you. You must advertise the event to your members and make sure they show up. Ensure a large turnout by asking your members to encourage family and friends to attend the restaurant night too.

Many restaurants will allow your members to work behind the counter during your restaurant night. This can be especially effective for schools when the familiar faces of teachers, staff, and administrators are encouraging your members to spend more by upgrading to a special meal or add a desert to their order.

Sometimes the restaurant will allow you to set up an area to inform the public of your cause and solicit donations via a donation box by the cash register. A popular method is to ask customers to donate the change they receive back from their meal purchase to your cause.

What to look for when soliciting restaurants for a restaurant night fundraiser.

There are many variables to consider when choosing a restaurant to host your fundraiser:

  1. What percentage will our group receive? Local restaurants tend do donate higher percentages while chains and franchises trend toward the low side. Usually the range is between 10 and 25%.
  2. What day or days are available? Some local restaurants will agree to a week long promotion, but usually it is limited to one day or night.
  3. What hours are available? Obviously the more hours available the more potential for income.
  4. Is it limited to just my group? Or will we receive a percentage from everyone who dines during our time period?
  5. If take out or drive through is available will we receive income from these sales?
  6. Can our members work behind the counter or as "celebrity servers"?
  7. Can we set up an informational display and solicit funds during our restaurant night?

A restaurant night is a very popular fundraiser for small groups like school PTO/PTAs, scout groups, sports teams, and other groups with a good size member base but few volunteers. While the potential for large profits from this fundraiser aren't very likely it can provide a steady source of income for your group with very little effort. And this discretionary spending by members of your group won't affect the regular fundraising dollars they give.

Just think of how many times your family eats out each month. If you could hold a restaurant night fundraiser once a month during the school year the money could add up. Make sure to rotate your restaurants for the best results.

Examples of restaurant night fundraisers:


About the Author:

Deane Brengle is the editor of several free online publications that cover fundraising for small nonprofit groups. You can visit these publications and read more about fundraising in articles by him and other experts in the field at The Fund$Raiser Cyberzine, The Fundraising for Small Groups Newsletter, and Fundraising Booklets.

Home / Subscribe Free / About Us / Contact Us

copyright © 2000 - 2010 all rights reserved Fund$Raiser Group
ISSN 1530-6127 - Library of Congress, Washington DC, USA
Editor's Picks

Fundraising Booklets
Complete "how-to-do-it" fundraising guides - Free

Cookiedough Fundraising
Scratchcard Fundraising
Safe Fundraising

Recommended Suppliers

AWeber Communications
Send newsletters, unlimited email campaigns, autoresponders, and more. Free customer service (800# with a real human), free HTML templates, and free email analytics. 3 months of service free to non-profits opening new accounts, followed by a 25% discount from regular pricing. This is the service that the Fundraising For Small Groups Newsletter uses!

Recommended Books

Grant Writing for Beginners
Learn how to quickly and easily establish relationships with regional foundations and build a strong base of grant support for your nonprofit.
Read a Free Excerpt

Ask Without Fear
A simple guide to connecting donors with what matters to them most. Chock full of practical, easy-to-understand fundraising tools and secrets.

7 Essential Steps to Raising Money by Mail
Learn with practical examples, detailed checklists, writing helps and other tools. Sample letters for different types of solicitations and for different nonprofit groups. A step by step guide to writing fundraising letters.

Silent Auction Guide & Toolkit
Learn how to create a successful silent auction fundraiser. Silent auction strategies, timelines, auction items and how to organize and display them, how to close an auction and take payments, and other add on fundraisers to boost the bottom line of your silent auction.

Let's Raise Money
The inside scoop about small group fundraising. Learn from the founder of a national fundraising company as he reveals secrets observed over nearly two decades of fundraising.
Read a Free Excerpt

The Ultimate Guide to Planning a 5K Run or Walk Fundraiser
Plan a successful race from scratch. Proven marketing strategies, find and manage volunteers, maximize revenues, recruit and motivate teams. Checklists, forms, speadsheets, worksheets all included.

Secrets of the Charity Auction Experts
Learn from the experts! Discover the best selling auction items. How to get auction items donated. How to boost attendance. How to get more bids and higher selling prices. How to coordinating volunteers, staff and auction consultants.