School fundraising nights at chain restaurants are a great opportunity to raise funds and build community. Many local restaurants will do this, and surprisingly, many very large chain restaraunts are very active supporters of local schools too.
Many restaurants offer benefit nights where 10-20% of the nights’ receipts go to a designated 501(c)(3) charity. Some will print flyers for you, and may share in the responsibilities of publicizing the event. However, you should expect to spend time spreading the word through your calendar, newsletter, outdoor signage, PA announcements, send-home flyers, teacher reminders and any other methods you have at your disposal!
Why do restaurants do this? There are three main reasons:
- To fill seats on normally empty nights (typically slow weeknights are Monday-Wednesday)
- To attract new customers that may not have tried the restaurant
- To project a positive image of their brand in the community
Why should your school try school fundraising nights?
- Everyone has to eat!
- It’s a great way to build community and socialize with friends
- It is not as complex as running fundraising events at school
- The prices are not inflated like some other fundraisers
- The restaurant gives a generous portion of the receipts back to the school
To prevent your supporters from growing weary of too many events or poorly run events, follow these simple tips:
- Hold only once school fundraising night per month
- Try to hold them on a night with less homework
- Do your best to rotate the restaurant each time to accommodate all tastes
If you have a large school, schedule two consecutive nights so the staff is not overwhelmed and the patrons are not turned off by the crowds Enlist “celebrity servers” – alumni, staff, PTA leaders, athletes, local luminaries, etc.
While you have a captive audience, consider passing the Helmet, Hat, Bucket, or other convenient receptacle for additional donations
And now, without further ado…here are links to 34 chain restaurants with active school fundraising programs on their websites. We hope you enjoy picking a few to try this year. Please leave us a comment if this list was helpful!
bd’s Mongolian Grill
Brusters Ice Cream
Buffalo Wild Wings
California Pizza Kitchen
Chevys Fresh Mex
Chuck E Cheese
Jersey Mike’s Subs
Max & Erma’s
Outback Steak House