Best practices to help you manage your FEC or amusement park’s charitable giving better, easier and faster.

If you’ve been in the fun business for long, you’ve probably been asked by local fundraising organizations, schools, sports teams or companies about partnering or donating. Should you simply write a check, offer a fundraising event, host a trampoline park party or donate a portion of a night’s proceeds? There are many ways that you can make partnering with your community a win for everyone. And what’s even better, tracking and managing your donations can be done seamlessly, without causing administrative headaches or complicated staff procedures thanks to party software.

Don’t guess at how to give to your community – read on for the ins and outs of these five approaches that can help make your FEC fundraising efforts pain-free experiences.

1. Sell designated charity items.

Offering a designated item for sale with a portion of proceeds going to a charity can be a terrific fundraising effort. Take the sale of a special drink flavor or souvenir cup for example. You could offer a normal large Pepsi for $2.99 but decide to offer a uniquely branded cup for the benefit of a local or national charity. Perhaps you sell the special drink for $3.99, with $1 of each purchase going towards the fundraiser. Using this approach, the restaurant chain Firebirds Wood Fired Grill raised over $1,000,000 in 2017 by selling lemonade to support Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation.

You could even offer a special refill price to encourage guests to return with their souvenir cups and get special pricing on soft drink purchases or combos. This gives you the opportunity to engage with repeat FEC guests as well as increase your local visibility. Mission Barbeque, a fast serve barbecue establishment, uses an American Heroes cup and every time I return to my local restaurant, they thank me for my partnership in support of our American heroes. In fact, just the other day I purchased another special cup to show my support for local EMS with a 9/11 remembrance cup. I mean, you can’t really say no, can you?

There are a lot of possibilities for your FEC facility, whether it’s a souvenir cup, specially colored trampoline park socks for Alzheimer’s Awareness or anything else you dream up. Each item can be set up like a package to allocate the charitable funds to a non-sales bucket for easy POS tracking and FEC management and the remainder going into your regular revenue streams.

2. Offer a ‘Give the Change to Be the Change’ Program.

As the saying goes, “pennies make dollars” so why not put that into practice? You can offer park guests the option to round up their spending to the next dollar and give them the option to donate their change to a designated charity. Asking guests if they want to donate their change to help fight juvenile diabetes, for example, gives generous guests a “feel good” boost that they’ve helped someone. People who start out feeling positive have more fun in your park. Plus, rounding up their change means they don’t have to bother with keeping coins when cash is given.

For your park facility, a cashless arcade system also increases transaction speed with cashiers not having to count out coins – and reduces the need for you to keep change on hand. Like with other giving options, this can be made seamless at the point of sale with a simple prompt at the end of each transaction, and all monies collected are automatically allocated to a given charity on the back-end so you can easily pull reports to make your donation monthly or quarterly, etc.

3. Promote a partner event.

Perhaps you want to host school spirit nights without limiting the charitable giving to just one school. You could create individual group park events where guests who visit identify themselves at admissions as part of a certain school. Staff can then allocate the guests’ purchases to the correct school fundraiser. This makes it simple to hold several fundraisers simultaneously while allowing park guests to pay as they walk in.

You could even offer special promotions or pricing for attendees of the various fundraisers, such as those wearing a school’s colors, a badge or name tag, or some other way to identify themselves as belonging to a group. Simple reports at the end of the night would tell you which groups had the most participation and how much should be donated. These types of events, in addition to giving back to the community and bringing walk-in traffic during an off-peak evening, also get you increased local word of mouth publicity with schools or organizations promoting the event on your behalf – a win for everyone!

4. Book a traditional group fundraising event – with a park twist.

The obvious choice is to work with a charity or a local company to host a fundraising event. But did you know that you have choices with how payments come in for these events? While many organizations are happy to host a fundraising event, the challenge is determining if the participants will make some or all of their own purchases or if they need to have an FEC event organizer pay for everything at the end of the event. Your park management software should help you manage either of these scenarios without the headache.

Let’s say that your FEC has partnered with a company to donate 10% of an event in support of the local food bank. The company wishes to offer their attendees an experience with admissions or attractions, but you would also like to donate a portion of all individual attendee purchases as well. Identified event guests would receive the original passes but then be free to make purchase throughout your park, with or without special pricing. Frontline staff throughout the park would know that these additional purchases were to be allocated to the group’s total – all right from your point of sale.

This also helps when organizations subsidize part of attendees’ entertainment but want guests to pay for their own bar items, for example. Food and beverage purchases could still be tracked against minimums without forcing an event host to pay for it all together. The point is that there are many ways to storm a castle and offering flexible options could win you more events.

5. Just ask for the donations.

When I worked for Bank of America, I coordinated the Dallas Metro Area annual March of Dimes fundraising campaign where every spring we would raise funds to help fight birth defects and prematurity. We held bake sales and challenges, pie in the face contests, you name it. But you know what one major way to raise money was? Just asking for the donation. I used to ask passersby in the banking center, “would you like to save babies with us today?” and eight times out of ten, they’d donate. I mean, who doesn’t want to help babies?

Perhaps you’ve been approached by a local organization that can’t afford to do a big event and doesn’t have a corporate sponsor. You could agree to solicit donations from your guests for a period of time. You could add one or more buttons to your point of sale for any time period and encourage team members to ask guests if they’d like to donate a dollar (or more) to the charity, much like grocery chains do with a variety of charities. Any donations would be added to their purchase but allocated separately as you designate.

There are many possibilities to promote and have fun with your team during a campaign. Perhaps you create contests and reward your team members with the highest numbers or percentage of donations, making it a game that everyone wins.

Fundraising at your FEC facility is a great way to give back, engage your team in worthy causes and get added exposure for nonprofit organizations as well as your brand. There are lots of ways to make it easy, so it’s time to put the ‘fun’ back in fundraising.

Check out how to make fundraisers and other events a cinch with Advantage Groups.

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