Fundraiser at restaurant was cancelled without notification, what is a fair resolution?

money
fundraising
#1

We booked a fundraiser with a well known franchise (that I wont name) through their online system. Basically we would get XX% of the sales we bring them, by having customers mention that they want to support us. We went all out on promoting this event in our community and school. We heard rumors the night before that the location was under construction, but it was too late to do anything as the mall , HQ, and the restaurant were obviously closed for the night. On the big day, I confirmed that the restaurant was indeed closed, but once you say something online, it’s impossible to take back. Our mentor has received angry emails from parents who took time out of their weekend but missed our notice that it was cancelled.
What’s a fair expectation of the restaurant? They have already asked us if we want to rebook another date, which i’m cool with, but our mentor wants something different. Thoughts?

ps this is my first topic on CD so please let me know if it’s in the worng section or something.

#2

Were you not in contact with the local franchisee? That was an oversight. I’d rebook but in like 6 months to cool off.

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#3

We were never in contact with the location, however we received several automated confirmation emails reminding us of the event. Will definitely be more vocal in the future.

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#4

Personally, I tend to be sore about this sort of stuff and would find a different (competing) restaurant that would offer a similar deal. A snafu like this not only looks bad for the restaurant in question, but it also makes your team look bad and sours your supporters - how many of them will decide to not bother the next time you do this because of a bad experience this time?

8 Likes
#5

I think that’s the wrong question to ask. At this point, it doesn’t matter. Unless they signed a contract promising you something, and you’re willing to go to court to enforce that contract, it really doen’t matter what anybody thinks is “fair”. A better question to ask might be, “What lessons can we learn from this experience?”

The first was hinted at by ngreen. Never assume that a local franchise will follow through on something booked through a national chain website. This applies to just about every aspect of life, especially things like team travel. Always follow up with a phone call with a person in authority at the local branch. It’s quite common that you show up at a hotel, rental car, or in your case, restaurant, and the people who are responsible for keeping promises have no clue what the people who made the promises have committed to. If you don’t want to get left high and dry, you always have to double check with the folks on the ground.

The second might be that all that time and effort expended by your team might have been better targeted at different fundraising opportunities. Frankly, the money you can raise on this kind of thing is small potatoes compared to applying for grants, and networking with community charities who exist to funnel money to organizations that make a real difference to the community. Avoid “opportunities” run by people who take most of the money raised for themselves. This kind of thing falls squarely into that category. Most people hate “fundraisers” where they are asked to buy something. Given the choice, they’d rather just donate directly to the organization. You just need to be creative in who and how you ask.

Out of curiosity, exactly what were the terms of the agreement? How much was your percentage of the gross receipts attributable to your team? What was the actual expected total earnings for this event?

9 Likes
#6

I do appreciate your frustration. But. The other side of the coin. You should have checked out the location and preferably met a manager. If for no other reason might not be a place you want to be associated with your team. Also a lot of time the location may not be totally on board with a national promotion.

Somewhat of topic. Some years ago one of the families with our team was associated with popular restaurant. They would have been willing to do something like that, but theme of the restaurant wasn’t exactly family friendly. While not really anything wrong, but not something school would appreciated being associated with the team.

2 Likes
#7

Obviously this isn’t our only fundraiser, and like most teams, we have a diverse income from sponsors as well as the community. As a small FTC program, this fundraiser would have been more than potatoes. (sorry for not mentioning this before) We’re not in a financial crisis because of this, but it does reflect poorly on our club, and i’m not looking for revenge or anything, but simply rescheduling sounds skimpy although it is probably the best we’ll get.

I understand what you’re saying about fundraisers that simply ask for money from those who would give anyway, and I completely agree, but this event was in high demand by our members, and seemed to be a good way to bring our parents and students together for a casual Saturday. The rate was 33%, with a minimum of $300 in sales (or $100 for us) I knew we could meet this minimum, so worst case we learn that people don’t like this kind of fundraiser and we get around $100. Instead we get $0, and embarrassment to our program.

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#8

I wouldn’t agree with this statement. These sorts of fundraisers are often a small investment of time and energy - you sign up, post it on social media, include it in some emails, and you’re done.

On the other hand, I’ve seen these well executed as both fundraising and outreach. Talk with the local branch about it ahead of time, and then in addition to getting a cut of sales, show up with the team and robot and talk with the community during the event! You’ll get more people who just stopped in to say they’re with the team, and you get more visibility within the community, probably with people you haven’t reached before.

4 Likes
#9

Unless you had a written contract there isn’t much you can do.
It seems that most of these agreements are verbal.
I completely agree that the loss (monetary and reputation) that the team suffers is unfair.

#10

Understand the frustration with getting angry emails from parents.

Really, though, any sort of event needs to be communicated directly with a person. Not just that, but you follow up with that person a week before the event and then again 2 days before the event. (And, the bigger the event, the more you follow-up. Wedding? Every month “Hi, just wanted to be sure you still had us on the schedule.”) You also need to track that person’s name and title. If the 2-day-before communication is through email or voicemail and you don’t get a response, then you call the day before just to be sure you’re still on.

I’ve been involved in enough fundraising events across various groups to know that this is what you do. Restaurants have a lot of turnover in personnel. The person who was originally handling the event may not still work there. And, they’re used to groups making initial contact about a fundraiser, then never following through on it.

#11

Fair? A mentor of mine told me that “A Fair is a place you take your kids to”. Fair is irrelevant.

@ToddF said it best: Learn from it.

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#12

The one other thing that I think you really need to do is to contact their corporate HQ (or whoever handles their online signup). Not looking for anything in return (I would accept the alternate date, BTW, if you can make it work–but get it in writing), but to let them know what happened–“hey, we booked, but the site was under construction and all we received were confirmations from you guys before we had to no-notice cancel” and ask if they can have a way for their local franchisees/managers to blackout dates for those fundraisers (for things like construction, previously-scheduled fundraisers, things like that).

Their PR people can then do two things in response: Take the route that most people in the thread are taking (“You should have checked with the local people, sorry, there’s nothing we can do”), OR see what they can do to make it right.

#13

I don’t know that there’s necessarily a fair expectation of the restaurant, and I agree with others above that it would’ve been prudent to work through the local franchise rather than through a corporate online system… but on the other hand I think it’s more than fair that you are vocal about which franchise it was that had this flawed system. It may influence my and other people’s opinions about whether we choose to fundraise through their program or not.

There are consequences on their part for failing to communicate with their prospective customers. I see no reason to protect this franchise when they contributed to making your team look bad.

#14

Update: Upon my mentor asking for more than just a redo, Chipotle has offered us a $150 “head start” ($50 for us!) in sales towards the next fundraiser. While my mentor and I find this to be a gracious deal, many of my teammates are still salty, though I don’t think anything could make them happy. We will probably schedule a date far away, to make it not look like we’re asking the community for support once again so soon. I’ve seen a few other local teams and organizations sign up as well, i’ll definitely warn them and advise them to contact the restaurant itself beforehand. I waited until now to reveal the franchise to give Chipotle a chance to respond.

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#15

Glad to hear there was some positive resolution on their end.

I’ve seen FRC teams advertise this type of fundraiser on their social media (usually the same picture of a giant foil-wrapped burrito) so it does seem to be popular.

We did something similar once in our city with a local Tex-Mex chain, but we decided to make it into a team social event as well. We invited team members and their families to all book their dinners at the same time, and we as mentors booked a big table as well. So we all had a big gathering, ate a tasty supper, and then the team got kickbacks from our own meals. It was fun, but I think I’ll echo what others have said in that there are other fundraising activities that could give you more bang for your buck. (If you have the resources, look into doing a dinner and silent auction… two organizations I volunteer with both do one and they’re the single highest-earning activity in both cases)