12 Food Fundraisers

Cute little baby boy is having a watermelonThe key to a good food fundraiser is offering something that you can’t get at your average restaurant or store. Booster clubs can add value to food in many ways, but the main avenues are quality and atmosphere. Which gourmet foods are only found in fancy restaurants? Which meals fit in community events? These food fundraisers can help you leverage the existing strengths of your club into a successful event, so keep your circumstances in mind. Do you have many vegetarian supporters in your area? Are there farmers or ranchers who might contribute food?

  1. B.B.Q.: got volunteers with a gumption for grilling? Collect grills from around the neighborhood for a massive cookout. Deploy specialty sauces, and sell bottles in addition to plates. Offer quality vegetarian options, such as tempeh sandwiches or ribs.
  2. Specialty bake sale: make a better bake sale by omitting store-bought goods. Tap the creativity of your supporters by asking for interesting recipes that incorporate traditional baking, seasonal ingredients, or alternatives for those with dietary restrictions; gluten-free, sugar-free, dairy free.
  3. Celebrity waiter night: recruit local celebrities to work as waiters. For example, a recent beauty pageant queen, a radio host, or the school principal. Don’t be afraid to call congressmen and pro sports players as well! Partner with a local restaurant and donate the waiter’s tips to the club.
  4. Restaurant dinners: or, you can cut the waiters out of the equation, and simply partner with the restaurant. Get the restaurant to agree to donate a portion of the night’s gross sales (say 15%). Or, negotiate discounted gift certificates, like a Groupon.
  5. Specialty coffee: will your supporters pay extra money for high quality coffee? The only way to find out is to test them. Try brewing really good coffee at the snack shack. Make sure to advertise and offer a cheaper coffee at the same time. If lots of people go for the good stuff, you’ve just pioneered a new funding stream.
  6. Concessions cart: snack shacks are confined to a single place, such as a stadium or school. But a concessions cart can leave school events. It can travel to parades, city fair grounds, and even away games!
  7. Crab feed: A very popular fundraiser on the coasts. See more seasonal seafood for the north Pacific and New England for more ideas.
  8. Fish fry: a pescatarian version of the BBQ. Fish can be fried, breaded, baked in tin foil, or roasted over a spit.
  9. Food fight/soda fight: Probably the most interesting and potentially profitable fundraiser on this list. Food fights make a great fundraiser because they offer a unique opportunity, something that literally isn’t allowed in any other place where food is served. Plus the pricing structure is great because in addition to charging for entry to the fight, you can charge by the can. That’s money for the club with every spray, and every revenge attack it inspires!
  10. Formal dinner: Many elements can contribute to a formal dinner. Live music, such as jazz, is a great one. You can also require formal attire, or hold the event in a mansion (try to get the space donated for the night!)
  11. Pancake breakfast: with a hot pancake griddle and batter purchased in bulk, making pancakes can be really cheap. Pancake cooking can also be very portable, allowing you to bring fresh pancakes in a concessions cart (see #5).
  12. Wine tasting: the key to a good wine tasting is finding a wine wonk. You need someone who can set up the tasting and help broaden participants’ pallets by guiding them through the spectrum of wines. Then, you let that person select the wines for the tasting. Alcohol licenses for fundraising events are called Special Occasion Licenses in many states. They can often be secured conveniently through your state’s web site.

It probably goes without saying, but make sure volunteers label food offerings with common ingredients and allergy information. Nobody wants to break into hives at a fundraiser!

These food fundraisers come from our master list of 93 booster club fundraisers. So you might want to check those out. Got a great fundraiser that you want to add to the list? Send it to us by email or Tweet it @boostertweet!

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