Concession Fundraising on a Barely-There Budget


Schools, churches and non-profit organizations all need to engage in fundraising activities from time to time to raise a little cash for projects or trips that the groups would like to participate in. The catch is that these activities need to cost as little as possible since the entire point of the fundraiser is to make money, not lose it. This article will provide some important tips for running a successful concession stand on a tight budget to make money for whatever goal you have in mind.

In This Article:

  • How to involve people from outside your group
  • How to create a menu that is appropriate for the event
  • How to collect supplies from group members
  • How to select the right location for maximum fundraising

Involve the Community

Get everyone involved in your fundraising activities, not just the students or members of the group. Involve parents, as well as members of the community, that engage in similar activities. Have former athletes come and help out at concession stands or petition local bakers to donate goods to sell at the stand. There are many ways to get the community involved with raising money for a cause or group they believe in or were once a member of.

Tailor the Food to the Event

The food you sell at an event is extremely important. It can make the difference between a profitable fundraiser or a loss of funds. Keep these tips in mind when you are going about creating your menu for a concession fundraiser:

Did You Know? As a non-profit, you do not need to obtain a permit for vending and you need not prep the food in a commercial kitchen. You just need to create signage informing your customers that the food was not prepared in a commercial kitchen. Source: Food Booth: The Entrepreneur’s Complete Guide to the Food Concession Business

Keep it simple. When creating a concession menu for fundraising, it is best to keep it simple and stick with jut a few items that are sure to be crowd favorites. Having a broad menu may mean leftovers which equate to profits down the drain.

Consider the type of event. If it is going to be outdoors and in the cold, include hot cocoa and coffee in your menu and nix the ice cold cola. If the event is in an indoor theater, it’s a good idea to sell small baked goods and whole, fresh fruit rather than sloppy grilled burgers and chili dogs.

Get a feel for what people want. Have people in your group talk to people they know will be attending the event to see what they would like to eat while in attendance. Of course, not everyone will agree on the same thing, but you will be able to get a general idea of what type of appetites will be arriving at the event.

Share the Burden

The cost of running a concession stand does not have to be burdensome. The costs can be shared by all the members of the group by planning ahead and seeing what supplies can be donated rather than purchased.


Items purchased in bulk can be a big money saver for a fundraiser.

Make a list. Before you start building a concession stand and shopping for food, make a list of all the supplies and food that you will need for your stand. This can include the basics, from a table and chairs, to the more complicated pieces of equipment, such as a barbeque grill. While you may not necessarily want to put each individual ingredient on the list, you can add to the list that you may need access to a store that sells food in bulk, such as Costco or Sam’s Club.

Ask for donations. Once you have a list of everything you will possibly need for the fundraiser, send the list out to all of the members of the fundraising group asking them to respond and let you know what items they can provide. When a person responds, be certain to note next to each item the person’s name and phone number. While people may offer to make donations of food, it is best to make all of the ingredient purchases as an organization as you will be able to ensure that the food will be stored and prepared under sanitary conditions.

Follow up with people donating. When the fundraiser is a couple of days away, call each person on the list to remind them that they volunteered these certain products and that you will need them at the following time and location.

By following this method, you more than likely will be able to gather all of the supplies you need, minus the actual food, which can be bought in bulk with a discount using a membership card to a wholesale retail store.

Choose a Good Location

The location can change up depending on the event for which you are selling concessions. If you are raising money for the high school football team, it makes sense to hold a fundraiser during a football game, but where do you go when you are trying to raise money for a group that doesn’t necessarily have events, such as the yearbook or newspaper staff or church group?


Make sure you have a good crowd where ever you set up a stand.

Look at larger venues. Some sporting arenas offer vendor booths for charities to use for their fundraising activities. The booths are available for groups that wish to raise money, but they must adhere to the codes and policies set down by the arena.

Consider your audience. You may not raise as much for the fine arts department selling food at a baseball game as you would at a theater production. Talk to community theaters and see if they will let your group set up a small booth outside some of their productions. The audience for the theatrical productions will likely be apt to buy concessions from a group raising money for high school theater.

Hold your own event. When a unique group can’t find the right fit with any existing events, sometimes it is best for them to hold their own event. Church groups can hold a bake sale. Yearbook clubs can hold a themed party to raise money and sell concessions at the event.

By planning ahead, using supplies on hand, tailoring your menu to the crowd and holding fundraisers in appropriate locations, you will be able to have a successful concession-based fundraiser using even the smallest of budgets.

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