It’s the beginning of the Fall semester. Although it’s Rush Week and you’re getting ready for new intake, you’ve just collected your organization’s semester dues, and the pot is looking lighter than expected. Intake fees aren’t coming for a long while, and that money is being carefully allocated to a--*ahem*--particular social gathering. So what do you do? What choices do you have when funds need to be raised?
Well that’s a tough question. A question like that takes considerable mental energy to break down and understand the complex intricacies, so you go get a bite to eat to think it over. After you finish that meal, carefully leaving your metal tray on the table because you believe in driving the local busboy economy, you realize a simple truth: “If I bring people here: brothers, sisters, friends, well-wishers, and the humble but often misunderstood stranger, this restaurant may let me keep some of the money.”
And thus the story of the restaurant fundraiser was born. Goodnight.
With your stomach and wallet in mind, OmegaFi is here to bring you the 5 Best Restaurant Chains to Hold a Chapter Fundraiser and keep those coffers filled.
5. Panda Express (20% Earnings Return)
Panda, Panda, Panda, Panda, Panda. Yes, Panda Express presents a sizeable opportunity for fundraising with their 20% earnings return. When it comes to fundraising at a restaurant chain, most restaurants will welcome the opportunity for an organization to add a few extra customers on a slow weekday night. However, America is dominated by burger and sandwich shops (more on that later), so try something different. A night of Asian cuisine may be just what the doctor ordered for a campus traditionally attuned to chicken tenders and French fries. Consider adding a theme to the night (avoid racist stereotypes) that appreciates and honors the culture: Create your own fortune cookie scroll, play games of Chinese checkers, mahjong, or play a game of Soda pong using chop sticks.
4. California Pizza Kitchen (20% Earnings Return)
In the immortal words of the honorable Teenaged Mutant Ninja Turtle, Michaelangelo, “It’s Pizza Time.” We’ll start by saying that although California Pizza Kitchen is undeniably delicious in its domestically imported West-Coast pizza-baking techniques, it may be a bit pricey for the average college student. This situation has plus sides and down sides. The plus side is that a higher cost per entrée means more money in the pocket of your organization. The down side is that fewer people may show up to the fundraiser overall. You’ll need to weigh the pros and cons and pair them against your target demographic and their estimated discretionary income. It’s hard to turn down a pizza party though, so in marketing the event, focus more on the company that guests would be joining (yours) and less on the food restaurant itself. People tend to be attracted to fun.
3. Panera Bread (20% Earnings Return)
Panera Bread is the Ritz Carlton of sandwich shops. A clean interior with a splash of class. Like a bookstore with no books, just cups of soup, bread bowls, and an air of introverted intellectualism. To eat within a Panera Bread almost requires you to hoist your pinky up and sip your mango peach tea slowly, and with a 20% earnings return, Panera Bread is the perfect place to set up an event whose tone is thoughtful and quiet. For sororities, this could be an opportunity to have a French Salon styled event, where guests wear their best dresses, white gloves, and boof their hair to the maximum clearance of all entry-points. Panera’s food is also delicious, and with its tranquil, smooth-jazz atmosphere, it’s a great venue for simply studying as well.
2. Chipotle (50% earnings return)
Entering our list with a whopping 50% earnings return, Chipotle is a behemoth in the restaurant fundraising game. Let’s start off with the benefits of Chipotle. Aside from the aforementioned 50% earnings return, the food for Chipotle is amazing. As a company that utilizes fresh, non-GMO ingredients, the quality of Chipotle cannot be understated. Second, their stores are everywhere, particularly close in proximity to the average college campus, which means an easier route of access for your target demographic. Lastly, Chipotle is responsibly priced. With a filling burrito or bowl starting at roughly $6.50, that’s an easy price to pay for a good meal on a college budget. The negatives? Chipotle’s PR right now has been terrible with their recent string of e coli outbreaks. Although many Chipotle restaurants are typically packed either way, a potential health risk can potentially put off a few of your intended guests.
1. Chick-Fil-A (10% earnings return)
Last but certainly not least, we give you the Holy Grail of all fast food, Chick-Fil-A. This fast food chain defies reality with their greatness, from the consistent high quality of their chicken sandwiches, to the freshness of every ingredient in their store, Chick-Fil-A is the cheat-code of all fried chicken joints. Yet it is so much more. To get a clear picture of the raw appeal of a Chick-Fil-A restaurant, consider this: When is the last time you’ve seen a Chick-Fil-A close down? You haven’t, because if you saw it, it would have been the first sign of the Apocalypse.
And on the topic of religion, Chick-Fil-A (which is a privately owned, Christianity-based company) had a bit of bad press when one of their executives made some curt remarks regarding gay marriage. Across the country people were up in arms, calling for boycotts. Do you know what the end result of the Boycott Chick-Fil-A movement? Their sales skyrocketed. Just talking about Chick-Fil-A made people crave it. This is the power this franchise wields; the goodness of their menu can reject justifiable outrage to publicly discriminatory comments. At even a 10% return on sales, believe us when we say this is a paltry expense in comparison to the power gained from the miracle that is Chick-Fil-A.
Eating in at a restaurant on a weekday doesn’t have to be boring so make an event out of it. As we’ve mentioned before, themes are key to inspiring engagement and ultimately increased donations. If you’ve got a favorite local spot in your college town/city let us know in the comments. Bon appetite.