North Texas Daily

GroupRaise helps students through local restaurants

GroupRaise helps students through local restaurants

October 15
21:47 2016

When Sean Park was in college, it was a part of his experience to join different organizations, hang out with friends and go out to eat at restaurants around campus. But in 2011, Park realized a way to mend all those elements together in order to help students on college campuses raise money for their organizations.

“GroupRaise started as a way for college students to connect their organization to a venue,” said Park. “It’s easy to help raise money while going out to eat.”

He explained how he noticed that some millennials have a harder time communicating face-to-face with business owners for fundraisers, but have an easier time utilizing the internet to create fundraising opportunities and while planning events.

GroupRaise bridges the gap between organizations looking to raise funds and restaurants that are willing to help. It is an online system for restaurants to engage with local organizations by hosting fundraisers to raise money for the group.

Now Park is bringing GroupRaise to Denton in order to help UNT clubs and organizations.

In the past three years, around 340,000 people across the nation have gone out to eat where an organization is raising money, Park said. Of that, 36 percent of people who ate out to support an organization were first time customers at the hosting restaurant and 96 percent of those people would continue to come back.

“It brings people together to fund what they care about while enjoying a meal,” Park said.

Since GroupRaise has spread across the nation, it has helped groups and organizations, such as Nothing but Nets, Water.org, Relay for Life and the MD Anderson Cancer Center, fundraise. It has served as a way for people with a passion for social issues to donate money while doing what they would normally do, getting something to eat.

Not only does GroupRaise help organizations raise funds, but it also serves as an opportunity for the hosting restaurant to gain exposure. Using GroupRaise helps restaurants build their brand, increase sales and show the community they care about helping out local organizations and groups.

In Denton, places like Mellow Mushroom, Bet the House BBQ, the Pickled Carrot and Jason’s Deli are hosts on GroupRaise. These hosts donate back 10 to 20 percent of the cost of the meal to the hosted organization or club. This has proved to be an effective way for college students to raise money and have an excuse to eat out with their friends.

Computer engineering senior Hugo Cardona is president of UNT archery club for the 2015-2016 year. His organization was able to raise a few hundred dollars from fundraising at Mellow Mushroom, which covered tournament fees for students participating in an upcoming event.

“We had moderate success,” said Cardona. “It was easy to set up, but it works better with bigger clubs.”

Cardona said the officers and their friends went out to eat at Mellow Mushroom as a group, then continued to broadcast their fundraiser on social media. Through this fundraiser, newcomers at Mellow Mushroom were able to enjoy their first meal there while helping the archery club participate in a tournament.

Although Cardona saw success with his fundraising, he felt larger organizations on campus would do better since they have more participants, which would in return draw larger crowds. GroupRaise looks to help both large and small organizations, like the UNT archery club, raise money while exposing the brand of the hosting restaurants. This effort creates a broader sense of community, Park said.

GroupRaise has helped thousands of charities, local clubs and student organizations raise money since it began five years ago. It has also built a sense of community between restaurants and returning customers. To Park, it has been the a positive way to help groups and organizations gain the money they need to keep going.

“It has been the most unique way to change the world,” Park said.

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Bina Perino

Bina Perino

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