Written by Kon-Tiki Taco
There are still black tie formal dinners to raise funds for important causes. But casual, interactive dining with mobile food carts might be better at friend raising.
The world of fundraising typically generates two things. The most obvious are funds to support a cause. But of equal importance is events’ friends-raising function. Because in the special events realm, in particular, the friends made by a non-profit through its events can translate into a stronger volunteer core, new community relationships, new board members and new larger-gift donors.
This begins when people meet people, learn more about the cause and develop a sense of ownership. According to the Association of Fundraising Professionals, special events may be more costly to produce than other means of fund raising, but events provide important and indispensable visibility for the organization and what it does.
Often, special events provide the new ways for people to gather and enjoy themselves. That might be in the latest physical feats of athleticism, or a type of social or entertainment event that is a draw to certain demographics.
Popular food choices are often part of the attraction – if not the centerpiece of the event itself. Gourmet food truck-based events are being held around the U.S., where caravans of six or more food truck vendors – from gourmet lobster rolls to gourmet tacos – sell an interesting mix of cuisines to event goers. An entrance fee to cover entertainment might be charged, while food vendors pay either a flat fee for being in the event or a portion of their sales to the sponsoring non-profit. In the best of circumstances, the caterer(s) might identify strongly with the cause and the food carts become an in-kind donation.
These events have a strong draw with Millennials and Generation X (those under 45), so if that’s your target friend-raising demographic, it can be a great platform for raising cash and fostering a community.
But food trucks and food cart catering need not be exotic or designed to only appeal to younger people. Among the most broadly popular mobile catering types are gourmet on-site taco catering carts, taking advantage of near-universal appeal of Latin cuisines and casual dining. With selections that might include carnitas, Caribbean carne asadas and Jamaican chicken, these hand-held favorites can be just as popular with Baby Boomers as their children and grandchildren.
The hand-held nature of these dishes is a key component of special events as well. No longer do supporters of organizations need to sit at 10-seat round tables and listen to speaker after speaker on a stage. Better, they want to mix and mingle, bid on silent auction items, roam the venue and actually talk to the people involved in the cause. With taco cart catering, it’s far more possible to entertain guests while they can interact with event features and people.
That’s how friends are raised along with funds. At the heart of it is the food, but as people circulate through an event they gradually become the lifeblood of the organization.