How to Use Toast Fundraising to Give Back to Your Restaurant’s Community

Round Up Fundraising Hero

With Toast Fundraising, individual guest burden is low, potential to build a strong connection to your community is high, and the impact adds up.

It’s certainly no secret that restaurants are, and always have been, pivotal to their local communities.

While restaurants have grown and changed a lot — particularly in terms of restaurant technology — since their inception many years ago, they’ve always served as a place to gather, recharge, and celebrate food. But so many restaurants have become more than just a gathering place; they’re a keystone in their communities. And, as a result, restaurant owners are quick to give back to the communities that support them.

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The importance of giving back 

These days, consumers and guests are more likely to frequent businesses to which they feel a personal connection. Of course, the quality and value you’re offering remain paramount. But guests are looking to spend money at businesses that give back.

According to research by Zeno Group, global consumers are “four to six times more likely to trust, buy, champion, and protect companies with a strong purpose over those with a weaker one.” 

If you’re able, there are tons of opportunities for your restaurant to give back through fundraising events, donating a portion of tabs to a cause, or hosting a food drive.

But if you’re looking for an easy win when it comes to giving back, fundraising through your point of sale or online orders is a great option.

Build community ties, raise awareness, and connect with guests

Round up fundraising

If you aren’t familiar, a round up fundraising campaign involves allowing customers to round their total up to the nearest dollar and then donating that money to a worthy cause. For example, if a guest’s total came to $23.58 and they chose to round up for your cause, $0.42 would be put toward a donation. In a way, community members might look at it as spare change and be willing to help out your cause of choice.

Not only does round up fundraising allow your restaurant to give back without cutting into your bottom line, but it’s also an easy way for guests to donate without opening their wallets. 

Flat donations

Guests can also opt-in to add a flat donation amount of their choice, with the proceeds going to a cause the restaurant has selected. Guests can opt-in through the Toast Online Ordering module, Guest-Facing Display (GFD), or digital receipts. The core of this feature provides your restaurant with the ability to select and support the cause most important to you and your community.

Flat donation is a great option for guests who want to give a little more to the local nonprofit organization of your restaurant’s choice.

How to set up fundraisers through your restaurant’s online ordering platform

While every fundraising software may function differently, Toast’s Online Ordering feature is simple to turn on and manage. 

(Don’t have Toast Online Ordering? Learn more about Toast here or, if you’re already a Toast customer, add it to your account here.)

To start raising funds with the Online Ordering Round Up feature, Toast Online Ordering must be enabled. Then, it’s a matter of creating a Round Up campaign within your guest engagement settings and entering the information for the organization to which donations will be distributed. Easy as pie! 

And with Toast’s Online Ordering Round Up feature, restaurants have the flexibility to choose which organization or cause to support, whether it’s international, national, or local.

Plus, Toast offers the ability to view reporting on past campaigns so you can see when the campaign ran, a count of total funds raised, and how many guests opted into the Round Up campaign. 

For full details and step-by-step instructions to set up Online Ordering Round Up campaigns within Toast, be sure to check out our Toast Central article.

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How to set up fundraisers through your restaurant’s on-premise devices

Now, Toast also offers fundraisers for guests who dine-in, for guests who want to be involved in the fundraising but aren’t ordering online.

To host a fundraiser on-premise, your restaurant must have a Guest Facing display (GFD) and a Toast hardware device (e.g., Toast Flex, Toast Go™). Your front-of-house staff is an important part of ensuring your fundraising campaign is successful when using a guest facing display, Toast terminal or handheld. Encourage your staff to be part of the campaign! We have often found that the most successful campaigns are the ones where the staff is engaged in promoting the food bank or charity your restaurant is fundraising for. Consider having your staff mention the fundraising idea to your guests as they are about to checkout.

For more details and a step-by-step instructions to set up both Online Ordering and on-premise Round Up/ Flat Donation campaigns and within Toast, be sure to check out our Toast Central article.

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How to promote your fundraising campaign to guests

Once you’ve created your campaign, it’s time to let your guests know. There are two great places to start promoting your round up fundraiser: via email and social media. 

We caught up with Jen Graham, Marketing Manager for Bobby V’s Italian Restaurant and Pizzeria, to hear how they used these platforms to promote a fundraiser for World Central Kitchen in December 2021. 

Email marketing 

Emails are a great way to get in front of your guests at times when your restaurant may not be on their minds. 

“We sent out an email newsletter detailing the steps on how to donate,” shared Jen. Below, you can see a portion of the email they sent. 

A screenshot of an email sent by Bobby V's Italian Pizzeria. The graphic is an illustrative holiday wreath with the heading "join us in supporting World Central Kitchen" and the button reads "online ordering"

When sending out an email about your campaign, it’s helpful to provide your customers with information on both the organization you’re supporting as well as how they can take part. 

Jen told us, “In the newsletter, I included a link to WCK’s website for our guests to learn more about the cause in addition to a link to our online ordering site where the round up campaign was taking place.” 

Make sure the language in your email is simple, concise, and easy to take action on. If you have a fundraising page as well make sure to link that as well!

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Social media marketing

If your restaurant isn’t on social media, you’re missing out on connecting with new and existing guests, and the opportunity to spread brand awareness. Putting together a restaurant social media marketing plan to promote your round up fundraiser is a great way to make sure folks know about your campaign. 

Jen shared Bobby V’s fundraiser on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, as well as their Google Business profile.

Maximizing the number of people who will see your post will increase your chances of guest adoption. 

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Hear from restaurants who are already using Round Up

Are you interested in using round up fundraising for your restaurant but not sure where to start? 

We talked to some Toast restaurants that have used the Online Ordering Round Up feature and asked them why they started using it, how they chose which organization to support, and more. 

Support a global cause 

You’d be surprised how your small, local restaurant can make an impact on a global scale.

The co-owners of Dacha Beer Garden, Ilya Alter and Dmitri Chekaldin, both immigrated to the United States from post-USSR Russia in the 1990s and opened the Washington D.C.-based beer garden in 2013. When the conflict in Ukraine escalated in late February 2022, they immediately jumped into action.

“The first day of war, we held a meeting with our Ukrainian employees and our Ukrainian GM and laid out a path to how we will be raising money,” says Dmitri. “We zeroed in on several important organizations that direct funds to help displaced civilians and especially children.”

While Dacha Beer Garden ran tons of in-person fundraising events to support Ukraine — including a happy hour special that raised nearly $3,100 — they also used Toast’s Online Ordering Round Up to raise money for World Central Kitchen through their off-premise channels. 

You can learn more about Dacha Beer Garden’s decision to raise money for Ukraine in their On the Line feature

Support a national cause 

Holy Pie Pizzeria, a veteran-owned and operated pizzeria in Georgia, launched their first round up campaign in March 2022 on behalf of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.

“In choosing an organization, our primary question is what does the cause support,” shared Kendall Wilson, Owner of Holy Pie Pizzeria. “We also are detailed in what the funds are used for, whether it is primarily overhead or operations, and the impact the organization has in the community.”

The Holy Pie Pizzeria team was excited to live up to their motto with the help of a fully integrated and easy-to-use fundraising tool. “Over 10% of our guests donated [to this campaign]. ‘Positively impacting lives one slice at a time’ is our motto, so simply adding a campaign for our guests to CHOOSE to donate assists us in doing our part in our community.”

For restaurant owners thinking about starting a round up fundraiser for their business, Kendall says go for it! But most importantly, choose an organization that means something to you. 

“Guests will help support the cause if they are informed of the reasons for your choice,” he shared.

Support a local cause

If you’re looking for a role model when it comes to round up fundraising, look no further than Rebel Dog Coffee Co. in Connecticut. The three-location coffee company and bakery has used Toast’s Online Ordering Round Up Feature to support several organizations thus far, spanning international and local. Their campaign for Nova Ukraine raised $898.71 from more than 1.8k contributors in just 30 days.

“It's amazing to see how the combined effort of many people contributing literally just a few cents at a time adds up to have such a huge impact,” says Kaitlin Higgins, Head of Marketing and Communications for Rebel Dog Coffee Co.

But when a local organization, Journey Home, approached Rebel Dog Coffee Co. as part of a larger fundraising effort, they were eager to join. Journey Home’s mission is to end homelessness in Connecticut. Rebel Dog Coffee Co. joined their Winter Warm Up campaign, during which different local coffee shops fundraised for them.

“Having been successful with our [other] round up campaign, we knew that doing round up (and matching customers' donations for a week) would have a great impact, and would help to more directly involve those in our community in the fundraiser,” Kaitlin told us. “It was also fun to be a part of an ongoing fundraiser that also included other coffee shops in the area that we love and are friends with. All around it felt like such a great community effort.”

The folks running Rebel Dog Coffee Co. have seen great success with past round up campaigns, and they show no signs of slowing down — and neither do their guests! 

“Customers have been incredibly supportive of our use of the round up feature. I think it's a great way for people to feel involved and like they're regularly contributing to something positive in a simple way, all while they're also supporting a local business,” says Kaitlin. 

Support a hyper-local cause

For small coffee shops, supporting causes and fundraisers in your own backyard can create a strong sense of community and comradery. For Christian Jolly, Founder and Owner of TradeWind Coffee Co. in Dacula, GA, round up fundraisers have been a great outlet to do just that. 

“Since most coffee shops are community-focused and community-driven, we had looked at some other ways of getting involved financially in what people are doing around here. A round up campaign was one thing that we had always thought would be great because not only are we going to be able to support somebody directly but we can also start engaging the community that comes through our shop to support various causes as well,” Christian told us. “So, as soon as we saw that was an option [with Toast], we jumped on it.”

One of the causes TradeWind Coffee Co. supported was the adoption fund for a local teacher. 

“A lot of our staff had him as a teacher and he really supported us during the pandemic,” says Christian. So, when it came to choosing the next round up campaign, raising funds for the local family felt like an obvious choice.

We asked Christian if he had any advice for other restaurateurs who are interested in doing a fundraising campaign using Toast’s Online Ordering Round Up feature. Here’s what he had to say: 

“Where it normally might be difficult to say ‘yes’ to a local organization that is asking you to write a check for a sponsorship or lay out cash or contribute items, if they are willing to do a round up campaign, that can be a way to say yes to local, community involvement where it may be hard to otherwise. I would recommend considering matching, too. That incentivizes the organization to promote you and the round up campaign and whatever you raise, you double that amount from the business on top of it. It’s been a rough couple of years but, thankfully, the spotlight has been on local businesses and smaller town experiences since the pandemic started. Treat your people right. This is a good time to have a small business.”

Making an impact on your community doesn’t have to affect your restaurant’s bottom line

It’s important to remember that giving back doesn’t always have to mean a large, financial gesture. Every small, positive action adds up and makes a difference in the community.

From international causes supporting strangers on the other side of the globe to fundraisers that give back to the organization right down the road, Toast Fundraising is a great way to get your restaurant involved and earn the support of guests, both new and old. 

If you’re already using Toast Online Ordering or Toast devices for your restaurant, you can find in-depth instructions on how to set up your Toast Fundraising campaign in our Toast Central article.

Not using Toast yet? Talk to a restaurant expert and learn how Toast can help your business.

DISCLAIMER: This information is provided for general informational purposes only, and publication does not constitute an endorsement. Toast does not warrant the accuracy or completeness of any information, text, graphics, links, or other items contained within this content. Toast does not guarantee you will achieve any specific results if you follow any advice herein. It may be advisable for you to consult with a professional such as a lawyer, accountant, or business advisor for advice specific to your situation.