With nearly 40% of the U.S. population fully vaccinated, we’re getting closer than ever to schools and events returning to normal. That means booster clubs will soon be getting busy with fundraising opportunities on the horizon.
While the fall football season is still months away, it’s important to start planning early this year. This is because 2021 poses some unique challenges when it comes to concession stand operations and event organization. There are many more areas of considerations for booster clubs and athletic departments: from local regulations to how the attendees feel about returning to events.
In this week’s blog, we break down a few action items you can act on right now in anticipation of your first fundraising events this year.
1. Set the right fundraising target
While you probably have a good idea how much on average you can raise by running a concession stand on a game day, you might need to slightly adjust the expectation this year given an array of unknowns. First of all, games might not be immediately back to full capacity this year due to COVID-19 restrictions. As a result, you’re probably making less per event due to a smaller crowd size.
You can set your new target by first confirming the expected capacity at a game, and then estimate what percentage of the game attendees will likely purchase concessions. In this case, while the historical data could be a good estimate (say out of 800 people attending a game at your school, you typically get 200 orders per night. The number of orders you’ll receive will be roughly 25% of the total attendance number), you might want to be slightly more conservative. The reason for that is people might be more hesitant this year to purchase food and drinks, and consume it in public due to health concerns.
From there, you can estimate the revenue by multiplying the number of orders with average order size. That varies from high school to high school, and really depends on what you offer on the menu and how much you charge. There are, however, ways to increase the average order size if you use a mobile ordering platform for your concession stand. We have a blog dedicated to tips and tricks for those.
Once you have a rough estimate, you can set more realistic goals plans abouts how many volunteers, how much inventory and how much marketing efforts will need to go into this year’s fundraising projects.
2. Familiarize yourself with school policies and local restrictions
It’s important for you to keep updated on the latest school and state regulations around in-person events. For example, at the time of the writing, Los Angeles is still prohibiting in-person cash transactions and pickups at events, and only allows for delivery to customers. These regulations will affect how you can go about conducting your fundraising operations.
While each state and school district might have different policies, in general we recommend limiting physical interactions and congregation as much as possible. Allowing fans to order food and drinks on their phone for either pickup or delivery means you can create a “virtual” line, as opposed to a physical line around the concession stand. This way you can keep everyone in their seats, and they only need to move around the venue when getting notified on the phone that their food is ready.
3. Upgrade you concession stand setup
It’s also a good time for you to examine your concession stand setup and rethink if there are ways you can make improvements. For example, do you need a new popcorn machine or a grill that can cook more burgers at once? Do you need new condiment supplier since you might want to offer condiment packets this year as opposed to a condiment table? If you’re still looking for concession stand food ideas, we have a blog on the best COVID-friendly concession ideas for this year.
Another way to upgrade your concession stand is to optimize the operations within your team. Instead of having someone manually taking in-person orders, consider using a mobile ordering app like FanFood, where people can simply scan a QR code to order and pay on their phone. The best part is, you don’t need additional hardware to operate such a system. All you need is an iPad or tablet to see the incoming orders, and mark them as complete to notify customers that their food is ready for pickup. This will free up the cashier to focus on order management and customer communication, while helping your team to operate more smoothly.
In addition, FanFood’s pricing for education institutions allows booster clubs to get started at no cost.
4. Don’t overlook marketing
This year is probably the most exciting time for sports games in a very long time. People are more hungry for live, in-person events than ever, and you should definitely take advantage of the eagerness and amplify your marketing efforts.
We’ve been seeing a lot of our baseball team partners stepping up their marketing game this year to hype up the fan base, with refreshed graphics and higher posting frequency. Below are some examples:
Make sure that in your marketing messaging, you’re also including information game attendees should take note of, such as policies around wearing masks and hand washing. Or, if you’re offering mobile ordering, make sure that in your pre-event marketing campaigns, you’re also giving information around how people can pick up their orders.
5. Be creative with your menu offering
Besides perhaps shaking up your menu to include more COVID-friendly food options, you can also start brainstorming what other useful merchandise you can offer. For example, in the summer you can sell mosquito repellents at the concession stand; or in colder regions you can sell hand warmers. You can even consider renting out phone chargers for some extra income. Given how health conscious people are post quarantine, you can also consider selling portable hand sanitizers or alcohol wipes.
While the first few game days in 2021 might feel different from before, as long as your booster club adapt and change according to what fans need, you can still have a very successful fundraising season this year.