It’s essential to support local restaurants right now. It’s no secret that restaurants and small businesses are hurting, along with the thousands of workers that depend on them. Eating at our favorite restaurants is one of the many daily routines that the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) global pandemic has disrupted.
But there’s also a lot we can do to support local restaurants through these difficult times, especially if you are a fundraising organizer. As an organizer, you stand in a particularly strong position to help the restaurants in your community.
Not only can you take action individually, you can also amplify your impact by encouraging your group members to act too. Read on for strategies on how to support local restaurants, whether you have a restaurant fundraiser scheduled or not.
Through restaurant fundraisers, thousands of restaurants have given back to groups in their communities. Now it’s time to return the favor!
See If Your Scheduled Restaurant Fundraiser Can Happen Via Takeout, Delivery, or Curbside Pickup
Although many states have required restaurants to close to dine-in customers – full list of states and their regulations here – you can still order takeout, delivery, and curbside pickup from many restaurants.
This applies to restaurant fundraisers through GroupRaise too – your scheduled fundraiser may still be able to go forward, even if it’s via takeout or delivery orders. Being able to keep your event on the calendar and take orders from your group could make a huge difference in helping keep the restaurant and its workers stay afloat.
For groups with already-scheduled restaurant fundraisers coming up, here’s what we recommend:
- Confirm Event Details: Ask the restaurant about their course of action in the coming weeks – will they accept takeout orders/delivery, will they have shorter hours?
- Reschedule/Cancel: If you need to reschedule, reach out to the restaurant to easily coordinate for a later date. For cancellations, contact support at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Contact Your Supporters: Once you have all the information, reach out to people who have RSVPed so they know what to expect – a list of RSVPs can be found on your Meal Management Page
If you don’t have a fundraising event scheduled, set up a restaurant takeout fundraiser! Your group could earn some serious cash and support local restaurants at the same time, just like a Washington state high school that raised over $200 for their seniors by partnering with a local Mexican restaurant – their story here.
Even if it’s not your fundraising season, you can request a fundraising event for a future date, planning ahead for your group. Once the public health crisis is over, many restaurants will still be recovering from the losses of the outbreak and will appreciate the additional business that comes through large group events.
Spread the Word about Supporting Local Restaurants
Moving beyond restaurant fundraisers, reach out to your group and members of your community to encourage them to support local restaurants. Spread the word via social media, emails, text messages, and any other platforms you use. If you know anyone who manages a restaurant, forward them our other article, Resources for Restaurants Impacted by Coronavirus.
Here are some ways you and your group can make a difference:
Order Takeout, Delivery, or Curbside Pickup
Takeout and delivery have become the sole income sources for many restaurants. Make sure that income is enough to keep your favorite local restaurant going!
If the restaurant does not offer delivery themselves, try one of the services below. All of the companies listed here have made no-contact delivery available and have either reduced, deferred, or waived commission fees on restaurants (see specifics below).
- Doordash / Caviar – waiving commission fees for restaurants for pickup orders, waiving commission fees for independent restaurants new to the platform for 30 days after signup
- Uber Eats – waiving delivery fees for all independent restaurants, paying restaurants daily instead of weekly
- Grubhub – temporarily suspending collection of $100 million in fees for independent restaurants
- Postmates – temporarily waiving commission fees for San Francisco Bay area businesses
- Seamless – deferring fees for independent restaurants
Couriers from these companies have also seen drops in business, so your order – and tip! – will help these workers too.
Leave Generous Tips
With fewer customers, wages for some restaurant workers are nose-diving. Make sure to leave a tip, even when you’re ordering takeout or delivery, and consider leaving a larger amount than you normally do. Your contribution will help under-appreciated restaurant staff make ends meet this month.
Buy Gift Cards/Certificates
Buying gift cards is one of the best ways to give local restaurants much-needed cash that they can put to use immediately. Gift cards function as small loans to restaurants. Many restaurants are even donating proceeds to their former employees for a period of time.
Stock up on restaurant gift cards now and you’ll be able to use them for future birthdays, holidays, and fundraisers. Gift cards are particularly helpful for fundraisers because you can use them as prizes or include them in gift baskets to give away in raffles.
Through the small business gift certificate program at Kabbage, Inc., you can buy a gift certificate online for $15-500 and the restaurant will receive the funds as early as the very next day. This is a great option to help local restaurants with cash flow, as many gift card platforms do not deposit the money to the restaurant until the card is used. Search here for restaurants and small businesses near you that are offering gift certificates.
If the restaurant you’re looking for hasn’t created their free Kabbage account yet and you don’t see gift card options on their website, you can call them up directly or use one of the following gift card services:
- Toast – Rally for Restaurants
- OpenTable (has waived gift card fees for restaurants)
Make sure to share your gift card purchase on social media with the hashtag #RallyforRestaurants, tag the restaurant (@mention) where you bought the gift card, and Toast, Inc. will donate $1 per post (up to 20 posts per person, up to $250,000), with the donations split between the Restaurant Workers’ Community Foundation and World Central Kitchen, two organizations supporting the restaurant community.
Many restaurants sell their own custom merchandise, including t-shirts, hats, tote bags, sweatshirts, coffee mugs, and more. Now is a great time to get a gift for a friend who loves that restaurant or get something for yourself. Like gift cards, restaurant merchandise can make great fundraiser prizes.
You can also find restaurants selling long-term edible merchandise such as coffee beans, hot chocolate mix, jam, or house-made barbecue sauce.
If you want to skip the buying part and contribute directly to restaurants and their workers, there are a variety of ways to do it.
- Reach out to the restaurant directly and see what they need
- Give money through Venmo, CashApp, or Paypal to a worker who has been laid off because of the pandemic. Some people have set up virtual tip jars for various cities – lists of restaurants, their workers, and information to make a deposit. Existing lists include Indianapolis, Boston, Washington, D.C. and Madison, Wisconsin.
- Contribute to crowdfunding pages for restaurant workers, on a platform such as GoFundMe. Many restaurants have set up relief funds to support employees they have been forced to lay off. Look for these on restaurants’ social media or search within crowdfunding sites.
- Donate to an existing nonprofit or relief fund such as:
- Restaurant Workers’ Community Foundation – direct relief to individual workers, donating to nonprofits helping restaurant workers, zero-interest loans for restaurants
- World Central Kitchen – mapping feeding efforts, delivering meals, community kitchens
- Southern Smoke Foundation – funding for restaurant workers in crisis, with priority for medical emergencies
- Restaurant Opportunities Centers (ROC) United – financial assistance to restaurant workers impacted by coronavirus
- See more nonprofits and relief funds on this list from Eater.com
Everyone has been affected in some way by the coronavirus pandemic. Let’s make sure our local communities and their restaurants stay strong by doing all we can to support each other!
Updated March 24, 2020