Are you hosting a sit down food event for your next fundraiser? Why not turn those tables into a revenue source by selling advertising space on your printed paper placemats?
This works well for pancake breakfasts, Belgian Waffle fundraisers, a breakfast with Santa, fish fry dinners, spay-ghetti (spaghetti) dinners, soup and salad lunches and other more casual food related events. Having placemats will actually help keep your tables a bit cleaner in between dinner attendees making the clean-up easier for your volunteers. If you include relevant facts and quotes about your mission, the placemats can also provide your attendees with some information about your rescue and the state of animals in your community. You can also include comparisons about how much the meal cost today versus how much it costs to feed one of your rescue animals each month. Many people don’t realize how little it takes to feed an animal for a month, and how much their donations make a difference.
Most restaurants offer children’s menus with games and activities on them, and printed placemats at your event are no different! Leave the space in the middle for some animal facts and a crossword or other activity, and use the border areas for the advertising blocks. The plate of food will soon cover up the center area, but the business card sized ads around the outside of the placemat will still be viewable.
You can offer the advertising space to your regular donors and supporters in advance, and then open it to area businesses that routinely support your rescue. This could include your regular vet, your groomer, horse ferrier, and pet supply stores. Don’t forget about asking your favorite real estate agency, insurance agents, car dealerships and other businesses who regularly support charities in the community. These agents enjoy lots of face time in the publicity, and having their face and contact information planted right where the food will be ensures that people will be looking down at the placemats frequently.
When talking with your supporters, state how many tickets will be sold for the event (based on previous years), and how many people will see this special advertising piece. This is an important number for the businesses, since they need to know how effective the publicity will be for the price of an ad. The businesses want to make sure they are spending money wisely, and that their ad will be seen by a marketing demographic the business wants to address. Your businesses will be surprised at the exposure they’ll receive from these placemats. Companies who produce advertising placemats claim that they work better than newspaper ads or television commercials, since most people ignore advertising in those formats. Placemats will be looked at each time the diner takes a bite of food!
The placemats could be the standard 10″ x 14″ placemat size used in most restaurants. Or, print yours on standard 8 1/2″ x 11″ paper, or 8 1/2″ x 14″ legal sized paper. This allows for at least 10 standard business card sized ad spaces around the outside edges of the placemat for your group to sell. Your group can elect to sell various sizes at different prices, or use standard business card size ads for a more unified display. Try to get the placemats donated by a local printer in exchange for a free ad on the placemats. The printing company can write off the expense as a donation to a charitable group, or potentially as part of their publicity budget. Even if you elected to pay for the placemats, with advertising, your group will still make money. If 1,000 placemats cost you $200 to print, and you sell 10 business card size ads for $100 each, you’ll bring in $800 in advertising profit. Negotiate for smaller printing amounts if possible.
Unrelated Business Income Tax (UBIT) applies to this situation since selling advertising has nothing to do with your animal rescue’s mission. This is the same scenario as selling advertising for an event program at a theater production or gala dinner. The advertising monies are not directly related to helping animals. Be sure to talk to your tax adviser prior to this fundraiser so you’ll know what rules you must follow, and how the money should be calculated.
Never let an earning opportunity escape you in your fundraisers. Having placemat space for sale is an excellent piggyback fundraiser for any casual meal event. This one piggyback fundraiser can add on an extra $1,000 to your total revenue for the fundraiser with only a little bit of effort in contacting your regular supporters! You’ll be glad you spent the time setting this one up.