If you’re looking for a fundraiser that will bring the community together and that you can plan in-house with parent volunteers, then a pancake breakfast may be perfect. A pancake breakfast is a classic fundraising event that is fairly simple to plan over just a few weeks.
Day & Time
Plan your pancake breakfast for any Saturday or Sunday. Of the two, we’ve found Sunday mornings 7:00/8:00am – 11:00am/12:00pm are most successful.
It’s easiest to utilize the school cafeteria for the pancake breakfast. The kitchen, tables and chairs are already there. Obtain school approval from the principal/head of school well in advance of the event. You may be required to hire a custodian and will need to ensure access to the school the morning of the breakfast.
If you’re a community nonprofit, look into local clubs that have function halls with kitchens. Or, in the summer, you may be able to work outside at a park using flattop grills.
Recruit several volunteers that can help with soliciting donations ahead of time and then working the pancake fundraiser. You will need people who can:
- 4-5 people to solicit or shop for, collect, and assemble food, paper goods, and raffle basket donations
- 5-10 people who can help set up, cook, serve, and clean tables throughout the event
- 5-7 people who can clean up, wipe down then put away tables and chairs, sweep/mop the floor, clean the kitchen and wash dishes.
These numbers will vary depending on the size of your event. The numbers above may work for a school of 200-400 students, but you’ll likely need more if your school larger.
If you are required to hire a custodian, they can also assist with emptying trash barrels and replacing trash bags throughout the event and then clean up at the end.
Keep track of your volunteers on a detailed spreadsheet. Distribute the spreadsheet to your volunteers so they all know when they are committed to working the event and their assigned duties.
Unlike a craft fair or yard sale where you are encouraging a high volume of spontaneous traffic, with a pancake breakfast it’s best to have an estimate on the number of people expected to attend in order to plan your food quantities.
Tickets do not have to be physically distributed for each order. For convenience purposes, keep a list of orders and have your guests check in at the front door on that day.
By selling as many advance tickets as possible, you will be able to better estimate food quantities. Then plan your food purchases to be 80-100% over your ticket sales to account for walk-in, spontaneous sales. It’s better to have too much food than not enough.
Set a Ticket Price
Once you’ve determined how your food and paper goods will be provided (donated or purchased) and you’ve priced out the items that need to be purchased (including any school expenses or janitorial services), it’s time to set a ticket price.
Pick an estimated number of people: for example, 50 people. Divide the total costs by 50 to determine your cost to feed each person. Then add $3.00 – $5.00 per person for profit.
Pancake Mix, 2 lg boxes @ $5
Milk, 2 gallons @ $4 ea
Eggs, 5 doz @ $3 ea
Syrup, 3 lg @ $2 ea
Butter, 2 @ $3 ea
Sausage links, 100 links
Orange juice, 3 gallons @ $4 ea
Coffee, 1 lg container
Cream, 2 large cartons @ 3 ea
Coffee cups & Juice cups
Forks, Knives, Spoons
Total cost for 50 people
Estimated cost per person
$7.00 children, $10.00 adults
All dollar amounts are estimates. Although I’ve tried to keep them updated, prices have changed over the years and differ by location. Be sure to run your own estimate.
The more supplies you can get donated to your event, the greater your profit.
The success of a pancake breakfast fundraiser relies of significant, yet highly target advertising.
Advertise heavily to school parents and grandparents. Send home flyers with the students 3 weeks prior to the breakfast date. These initial flyers should have a return form for ordering tickets and also request volunteers.
If initial response to the flyers is low, send a second flyer 1-2 weeks prior to your sale. Then send a reminder notice home in the students’ backpacks the Friday prior to your breakfast.
Senior centers are also a great place to sell advance tickets. Try to arrange for tickets to be sold at their office. Hang flyers and ask the office to announce the sale at their meetings.
Many churches gather on Sunday morning. Ask your local churches to announce your pancake breakfast at the end of their morning service to encourage spontaneous walk-in sales.
Ask local businesses (banks, shops, hair salons, barber shop, etc.) to hang flyers in their window or display at their front desk for the 2 weeks prior to the breakfast. Maybe even offer the shop owner 1 free ticket in exchange for their assistance in advertising.
Find 15+ advertising ideas in our Master Plan for Fundraising Success ebook:
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Keep the pancake breakfast menu simple. Since this is a school fundraiser, your guests will not expect an extravagant breakfast, but they will expect well-prepared food.
- pancakes with butter and syrup
- sausage links
- orange juice
- coffee with cream and sugar
- decaf coffee
- milk (Ask your school if they could donate the small pint cartons they serve at school lunches or if you could place an order ahead of time and buy them at cost.)
You may want to vary this menu slightly depending on your area. Perhaps your guests expect eggs, grits, or tea.
Other food items to get donated, although not necessary to add to your basic menu above, may be donuts, bagels & cream cheese, and muffins.
These days, so many people have food allergies and sensitivities. While you cannot accommodate every food allergy, it may be a good idea to offer a gluten-free breakfast option.
- gluten-free pancakes or french toast
- orange juice
- coffee / decaf coffee with cream and sugar
Gluten-free pancake mixes and breads are much more expensive than those made with wheat, so it would not be unreasonable for you to pre-sell sell higher-priced tickets specifically for those needing a gluten-free breakfast (est. $5.00 additional). [Speaking from experience, we know these ingredients cost more.]
By pre-selling these tickets, you will know exactly how many supplies you need to purchase.
Many local vendors are more than happy to support their local schools. Speak to the owners at a few restaurants to ask if they may be willing to donate any food items to your fundraiser or assist you in purchasing supplies at wholesale.
Chain restaurants that serve breakfast (i.e. McDonalds, Burger King, etc) are more likely to have pre-made pancake mixes in large quantities. By using pre-made mixes you avoid the need for additional ingredients (i.e. eggs, milk) because these are usually built into the powdered mix.
If you do not receive donated food items, you will need to purchase them.
- Shop at a wholesale warehouse (i.e. BJ’s Wholesale, Costco, Sams Club) where products are packaged in large quantities.
- Or ask a local restaurant if you can buy their supplies at cost
- Or, ask a local restaurant if they can assist you in buying supplies wholesale at the restaurant supply company from which they purchase
If you ask well in advance, a restaurant can plan their own supply orders to account for your request.
Disposable plates, forks, knives, spoons, coffee cups, juice cups, and napkins may be either donated or purchased.
People are very generous at fundraisers, especially when you’re charging such low ticket prices; so set out a donation jar at the check-in table.
Additional Revenue Generators
Pancake breakfasts are not necessarily a high dollar fundraiser. You can expect to profit a few hundred dollars. However, they do generate an audience which makes it a perfect opportunity to sell tickets for raffle gift baskets or 50/50 raffles.
See our list of raffle and gift basket ideas HERE.
The combination of a pancake breakfast and the raffles make for a more profitable fundraising event.
Things to Remember & Have On Hand
- Determine the venue (school kitchen & cafeteria)
- Cash for change for ticket & raffle sales
- Tables & chairs
- Set the menu (pancakes, butter, syrup, sausage, juice, milk, cream, coffee, sugar). Milk and eggs to make the pancakes if needed.
- Gluten-free option
- Paper goods (plates, forks, knives, spoons, coffee cups, juice cups, napkins)
- Trash barrels & trash bags
- Raffle baskets. Raffle tickets & bags for tickets to place in front of each basket.
- Volunteers (set-up, clean-up, cooking, serving, cleaning tables, selling breakfast & raffle tickets)
- Access to the school
- Hire a custodian, if needed
- “Pancake Breakfast” signs with date posted on the entrance door to your school and out at the main road. Also place them in the center of town, by churches, and other busy intersections in town.
- Volunteer schedule