If you’re looking for a fun and delicious way to raise funds without hosting another bake sale, you should definitely consider a food truck fundraiser. Food truck fundraisers are a great way to draw a crowd; there are so many cuisine options to choose from and ways to organize a food truck fundraising event to maximize your profits.
This type of event can be very successful as a school fundraiser by engaging with your whole school community and even the public from your neighborhood if you invite them!
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What is a Food Truck Fundraiser?
A food truck fundraiser is an event that invites food trucks to a specific location to help raise funds for something. As the event planner and fundraiser organizer, you’ll promote the event, organize the details, and invite the food trucks to attend.
In return, you’ll receive a portion of the sales from the food truck, or admission ticket sales for your cause. Plus, the food truck owners usually still make a profit (unless they agree to donate all proceeds, which is uncommon).
How Does a Food Truck Fundraiser Work?
There are a few ways of doing a food truck fundraiser depending on the scale of the event and who you would like to invite.
First, decide if you’re hosting a food truck fundraiser for a specific group or if it is open to the general public. For a school food truck fundraiser, you could advertise the event for teachers, students, and their families. You could also advertise to the whole neighborhood your school is a part of.
For an even larger fundraiser, you can host it at a nearby mall or shopping center so all members of the public can participate.
Different Types of Food Truck Fundraisers
There are two main ways to run a food truck fundraiser to collect money from the event.
- Ask the food trucks to donate a flat rate or percentage of their sales to your cause in return for you organizing and promoting the event.
- Pre-sell tickets or food tokens on site so a portion of the ticket sales go towards your cause.
The first option removes you and your volunteers from the cash-handling process and may be easier to manage. The second option does, however, have its own benefits.
Pre-selling tickets could happen in two ways. The first option would be if your event is occurring in a fenced-in location, you can sell tickets at a flat rate in order for people to attend as an admission fee. The full amount of this fee can go towards your fundraising efforts.
The second way to sell tickets would be to have your guests purchase tickets from you and then use the tickets to exchange for food from the food trucks. This is exactly how our school handles all food purchases at our annual fair, so I personally like this method! These are the type of tickets we use.
You would need to coordinate with the food trucks to see how much each ticket is worth compared to their regular menu prices. In my experience with our past events, we always set the conversion to 1 ticket = $1.00.
Vendors are encouraged to round up their prices to the nearest dollar and to add an additional dollar to higher-priced items to cover sales tax where necessary. They can also offer a limited menu to make the process more manageable and profitable.
This method works best for events of all sizes as long as all vendors agree to adopt the ticket system of payment.
Pros and Cons of Food Truck Fundraisers
Food Truck Fundraiser Pros
- There is potential to raise significant funds for your cause.
- You don’t have to do any cooking (unlike a bake sale or spaghetti dinner fundraiser)
- Food trucks are currently very popular and it’s easy to create excitement around this type of event.
- It’s easy to add extra fundraising activities alongside this event like carnival stands run by volunteers, a dunk tank, silent auction setups, a scheduled live auction or Chinese auction tables.
Food Truck Fundraiser Cons
- If you’re organizing a large-scale event it will take more time, planning, and volunteers than a smaller fundraiser on an online-only event.
- If the day of your event has bad weather it can negatively impact participation.
- You may need a rain-out location or tents for customers available in case of poor weather.
Steps to Create a Food Truck Fundraiser:
Decide When and How to Collect Funds
Will you be asking the food trucks for a flat rate to donate to your cause? Are you going to ask for a percentage of their food sales? Or, will you be using tickets?
Decide the best method for your food truck fundraiser. If it involves collecting a fee or percentage of sales from the food vendors, determine when and how you will collect it.
Set a Budget for Permits, Rentals, Promotions, etc.
Even a small food truck fundraiser with one or two food trucks can require a small budget for getting a permit and any equipment you may need. Here are some costs you may need to consider:
- Event permit (check local laws to see what is needed)
- Balloons and any other decorations
- Signage printing (for wayfinding)
- Promotional flyers and signs
- Garbage can and bottle recycling can rentals
- Washroom rentals
- Seating rentals (picnic benches, lawn chairs, standing tables)
- Equipment for extra activities (silent auction tables, dunk tanks, carnival games)
If you’re raising money for your school, many of these amenities should be available to you at no cost. School gyms, cafeterias, and church halls can usually provide their own tables, chairs, restrooms, trash cans, etc. for use during the fundraiser.
Decide on Fundraiser Location and Time
Pick a time for your event when you think the majority of those interested in attending will be available. If you’re hosting a food truck fundraiser for a school, think about a Friday night where parents could attend an early dinner after picking up their kids from school. Or consider a weekend lunch event.
Pick a location with lots of space like your school’s parking lot or on the street near your school’s park. If you have access to use your school’s washrooms it will save money on portable washroom rentals. If your park has picnic benches it can save money on seating rentals. You can even encourage families to bring their own picnic blankets.
Map it out! To help things go smoothly and for safety reasons, create a map showing exactly where you would like to have each food truck parked. This will ensure there is enough space for each truck, garbage bins, lineups, and seating.
Find and Invite Food Trucks
How large your event is going to be and how many people you have invited will help you decide how many food trucks you should invite to attend your fundraiser. One food truck per every 200 anticipated guests is a reasonable amount to plan for.
Maybe you’re wondering where to find the best food trucks in your area. You could look through the vendor lists at upcoming events and festivals in your city. This will show you which local vendors are currently participating in events in your area.
Book Permits, Rentals, and Schedule Volunteers
Depending on your city’s regulations you will likely need a special event permit or a mobile food vendor permit in order to host a food truck fundraiser. Make sure your permit is in place for the date, time, and location you have set.
Book any rentals you’ve decided your event will require. Make sure you let any rental companies you’re working with know that the rental is for a fundraiser. They may be able to cut you a deal on pricing in return for sponsoring your event. Usually, sponsors will make deals in return for ample signage to promote their company.
Find and schedule your volunteers well in advance of your food truck fundraiser. If you’re planning for a long event, you could reward your volunteers with a free meal from a food truck. Offering people their favorite food could also help encourage people to volunteer!
If you’re in need of more engaged parent volunteers, try hosting this Donuts with Dads or VIP Tea event!
Plan for Safety and Waste Disposal
Do you have a rain-out location for participants to take their food to like your school’s gymnasium? Do you need temporary fencing if your event is near a busy street? Does your location have an adequate number of garbage cans? Do you have volunteers that can be scheduled to empty as they fill up? Planning these details will make a big difference between a good event and a great one.
Promote your Food Truck Fundraiser
Use the food truck fundraiser template in the next section to build awareness around your event. Send the flyer home with students to share with their families, post the flyer on signs near school pick-up and drop-off areas, and share it with your neighboring communities to help attract a crowd.
Does your school have a newsletter or email list you could send event information? Also, you can easily share the flyer on social media. Then, create an event on social media. Your school community can then help invite participants and spread the word. Use all the resources you have to draw a crowd.
If you have other school-wide events taking place like a pep rally or Career Day event, spread the news there too!
To customize the flyer template, edit each section as follows:
- Where: Add your school name with the location of the food trucks (ex: in front of the school, in the school parking lot, near the school gymnasium, street address by the school park, etc.)
- When: The start and end times
- Admission Price: if applicable. If not, list it as “Free!”
- How to Participate: Encourage families to bring a picnic blanket if there is limited seating. Let them know if there is will be additional attractions, silent auction items to bid on, or other interesting details like carnival games they may want to bring cash for.
- More Details & Contact Info: Where or what the funds will be used for (for example, a new gym, or new athletic equipment). Also include the contact information for the person in charge of the fundraiser.
On the day of your food truck fundraiser, make sure you have scheduled your volunteers to meet early. Ensure each volunteer understands their roles or assignments. You will need help getting your space ready with balloons, signs, seating set up, etc.
You may also need volunteers to help remove garbage and bottles before they pile up. If your school has safety vests or volunteer shirts, these may be a good option to give your volunteers so they are more easily identifiable. If your fundraiser is in support of your school’s sports teams, your volunteers might be able to wear jerseys or their uniforms to help them stand out and answer questions from the guests.
Final Thoughts: Is a Food Truck Fundraiser a Good Idea?
Everyone loves a fun time with great food! Food trucks are a fantastic way to get people interested in your fundraising event. You can also feel good about supporting small businesses in your community by hiring local food trucks for your event. There is so much potential to have a successful fundraiser with food trucks, it’s definitely a wonderful modern idea!
Looking for other school fundraisers to try? Check out these:
- 1-2-3-4 We Declare a Penny War! Exciting School Fundraiser Kids Love
- You’ve Been Flocked! Hilarious Flamingo Fundraiser Idea
- Host a Laid-Back School Fundraiser using 99Pledges