If your food truck has garnered a lot of public and press discussion in your area, there is a good chance you will be called upon to contribute to charity requests by donating gift certificates for meals and/or being part of special charity events. Here’s some advice on how to handle these requests that can end up taking up a lot of your time.

How To Handle Charity Requests

Rather than limiting the amount of charity requests and gratis work you can afford, consider participating in a way that allows you to make both a donation and a profit.

Create a Charity Request Form

Develop a form (either physical or digital) for organizations to fill out when requesting donations. This should include the event details, type of support needed, expected attendance, and how the donation will be used. This standardizes the request process, making it easier to review and decide on the requests.

Then prepare a flyer with all of the details, and when someone calls or comes by your truck, you’ll have it on hand and know exactly how to respond.

Set a Review Schedule

Instead of handling requests on a first-come, first-serve basis, set aside specific times of the year to review all requests. This could help in planning your charity involvement more effectively and align it with your business cycles. Doing this lets you line up those charity gigs with your slow seasons or whenever you can really make an impact without slowing down your operations.

RELATED: Increase Your Nonprofit Fundraising Totals With Food Trucks

Amount of donation

Be up front about your costs and profits when you receive charity requests. This will eliminate many unreasonable requests. Promote the fact that you will donate 20% of the proceeds from the meal or reception to the charity or beneficiary. It’s classier than a discount.

Type of events

Pick one or two types of fundraisers that are appropriate for your mobile food operation. Now market yourself as THE truck to have at all events of this type in your community. Whether it’s a food truck rally, sit-down dinner for fifty, passed hors d’oeuvres for 100 guests or a coffee clutch with desserts, you’ll have an idea what works best with your operational set-up, available staffing, etc.

Price point

Give fundraisers some menu guidelines and options. Your chicken, pasta or vegetarian menu selections may have a significantly lower food cost than your lamb, rib eye, and salmon selections. The same goes for your appetizers and desserts. You might also want to have some special menu items available for large groups or events such as these that ensure you have a sufficient profit margin.

Times of availability

Try to schedule events during your off-peak times. This will allow you to be part of these events, while still making it out to your regular stops. Just be careful not to over book yourself or your staff. There will always be a time to say no, just learn when.

RELATED: Don’t Chase Too Many Opportunities

Gift certificates

The gift certificate is the most common of charity requests, so make it count. We recommend gift certificates that will generate business and a profit for you AND provide a value to the fundraiser. How about a free desert with the purchase of an entrée?

If you are are charity looking for food trucks to work with, check out our site.

Partnership and Sponsorship Opportunities

Consider forming longer-term partnerships with a select few charities that align closely with your business values and customer base. This can provide more meaningful engagement and marketing opportunities compared to one-off donations. By picking a handful of charities that really get what you’re about allows you to do good without regularly vetting and reviewing different opportunities that come your way. You can politely decline and let people know that you partner longterm with a select group of charitable organizations.

The Bottom Line

All promotions like these make you money. Consider them part of your marketing expenditures. And be proactive. The sooner you define the guidelines and options, the sooner you’ll be the toast of the town with a reputation as a food truck business with a huge heart!

When you participate in charity events or make donations to these events, be sure to share the story on your social media channels. This not only promotes the cause but also demonstrates your commitment to community involvement and making the world a better place. You never know what type of opportunities these events will come out of charitable events like this either. You never know who you might meet that could help you secure your next catering gig or lucrative corporate booking.

Do you have any additional tips for food truck charity requests? Share your thoughts on this topic in the comments in social media. Facebook | Twitter