We have received a few concerns from food trucks about events requesting a percentage donation from profits received during booked events. These requests generally come from schools, churches and non-profit organizations.
We are trying to address and offer solutions to organizations requesting donations. The concerns regard the lack of relationships that these organizations are forming with small local businesses in that they only utilize services when it is convenient and are in need of donations but do not consistently utilize them throughout the year. We understand the desire to "spread the love" or "not ask too much" of any one particular company, but building and maintaining relationships is part of our business and we definitely love supporting our communities. Unfortunately, supporting every cause that offers no support in return can and has financially damaged many small mom-and-pop food businesses, especially with grocery prices what they are. A donation from them should not come at the expense of being able to pay their own bills.
To be fair, it is not the best etiquette to ask anyone to take on a financial burden on behalf of an organization that has never supported them in the past and will not support them in the future. It almost seems like a trend to burn through businesses because there's always another one down the street. It isn't the best example to set and does not improve the reputation of the organization, which is why so many food truckers have opted to stay away from these types of events and organizations.
What we recommend when reaching out to food trucks:
1. Offer to guarantee their minimum. Ask when booking, if they would agree that once their minimum is met at a self-pay event if they would be willing to contribute a donation to the cause you are supporting. We understand that funding is an issue for fundraiser events but it is also important to recognize that small food businesses cannot take a financial hit from the multiple organizations requesting donations. If you are asking for a food truck to take a chance on your event then you should be confident that you are not wasting their time or resources.
2. Promote their business by including their logo and contact information in social media and any communication regarding the event (emails, speaker announcements, flyers, banners etc.)
3. Offer to book them for multiple events throughout the year. It is especially nice if there are events that do not require a donation but truly want to support small local businesses.
4. Remind others in your organization of the support this small local business has provided to your causes when it comes time to book family caterings for the holidays or corporate events at work. Referrals for future business mean the world to our food truck family that goes above and beyond to support their community.
5. Please leave positive reviews for your food trucks. When food trucks are booked for an organization's event and especially when they are donating back, it would be awesome to receive a dozen-plus positive reviews on Facebook or Google to show that their services were appreciated and that their dedication to their community is recognized.
6. Please do not ask food trucks to lower their prices, give huge discounts to unfounded relationships or ask them to bring an extraordinary amount of additional food over what you are willing to pay for.
7. Plan ahead. When an organization reaches out less than a month before the event (sometimes only days) it seems like including a food truck was a last-minute decision. This translates to businesses owners as poorly planned event where they will eat the cost of anything they are able to accommodate because there may not be as many attendees as anticipated or the attendees may not even know the food truck will be there. To rub salt in the wound, there is the pressure of making a donation even after a loss.
8. Stop inviting food trucks to events and then undercutting their sales by booking Chick-Fil-A to either hand out free (pre-paid) food or selling it for $3.
9. Stop booking 10 food trucks for 200 people over 6 hours and expect to get a donation from all of them. We have a formula that works and your desire for "variety" only drives business into the ground.
We feel like these are fair requests and a simple compromise that will keep our food trucks in business and organizations supported.