How Your Restaurant Waiter Can Teach You About Fundraising

fundraising strategy
The theory of reciprocity is powerful.  And nowhere is it displayed more dramatically than in restaurants every day.

Think about it.  Your waiter is basically working to inspire you to donate money after your meal to fund their livelihood. If they give you what you want, you’ll give them a tip (a donation), right?

And guess what? It’s no accident that waiters bring you fortune cookies, mints, or chocolates when they deliver the check to your table. In fact, a series of studies monitoring restaurant waiters once found that a waiter can increase the amount of their tips as follows:
Give 1 mint to the table = Increases tip by 3%
Give 2 mints to the table = Increases tip by 14% (So doubling the mints increased the tip by over 400%!)

Give 1 mint to the table, walk away… pause… turn around and say, “for you nice people, here are some extra mints” = Increases tip by 23% (That’s almost an 800% increase because it’s not about what was given but HOW it was given!)
So the lesson for fundraisers here is:  Be the first to give and be sure to deliver your gift in a way that is personalized and unexpected.

Give and you’ll get. And, be sure to do it in a very personal and unexpected way.  You can thank your waiter for that fundraising lesson.
What are you giving your donors?  And how are you doing it?

Related Posts:

>>5 lessons fundraisers can learn from Subway
>>What fundraisers can learn from reality TV shows


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5 years ago

I couldn’t agree more Scott.
I used to be a busboy…. then a waiter. I think it was great training for my career.
You have to give before you can expect something in return. Same goes for fundraisers. Give something that makes the supporter feel good! Like proof that their donations helped make a difference.

S. Park
S. Park
5 years ago

I couldn’t agree more, Greg! As someone who in a former life WAS a restaurant waiter, I am frequently struck by the similarities in that position and the one I now have. Where once I was charged with “enhancing the dining experience in the hopes of creating repeat business”, I now am charged with “enhancing the giving experience in the hopes of creating repeat donors”. The “value added” by a waiter frequently is the difference between a subsequent visit to the same restaurant or not, just as the “value added” by a gift officer can frequently influence, and serve as a positive reinforcement, for recurring gifts.

Kate Dunn
5 years ago

Love this!

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