NYU highlights how students make positive impacts throughout the New York City community, but these efforts are not often pursued to their fullest potential, with their organizations hindered by a need for funding which siphons off valuable time to planning and hosting events and
That’s why Devin Baptiste, Kevin Valdez, Paul Kwiatkowski and Sean Park created GroupRaise.com, a platform that connects university clubs, communities and nonprofit organizations to host fundraisers at nearby restaurants. After they struggled to raise money for their organizations as college student, they wanted to develop a way to make fundraising more sociable and effortless.
“We tried to raise money and found it to be very difficult,” Park said. “Especially in college organizations, you have all these traditional ways to do it. It is just time consuming and not effective at all. So why don’t we go out to eat? We thought that a meal is a great way to have people come together, while at the same time raise awareness by actually sharing conversation and talk about the things you care for.”
Gallatin sophomore and President of the Gender and Power Society Lindsay Karchin understands the challenge for student clubs to host enticing events that raise money.
“It is difficult to find people who are willing to come, listen to us talk and give us their money willingly,” Karchin said. “The second problem is, where do you find a cool venue that’s not too expensive so that we still make profits?”
GroupRaise’s website cuts the time for planning an event to under a minute: click on the desired restaurant, select a date, estimate the number of attendees and input a description of the fundraiser’s cause. The restaurant then donates 15-50 percent of the sales profit to the organization or to a charitable cause the organization chooses.
While GroupRaise is open to everyone, student clubs and organizations are the most frequent users of Park’s platform. He attributed this high demand to the millennial culture that is dominant on college campuses.
“We millennials are, at the end of the day, very lazy and not used to calling businesses,” Park said. “So booking everything online just makes everything easy. We try to build this tool for [the] millennial who may not be comfortable enough to go to a restaurant to schedule these things.”
Currently, over 300 NYC restaurants have partnered with GroupRaise and at least 25 of them are within 15 miles of NYU.
Sel Rrose, a chic cocktail and oyster bar on Delancey Street, is one of them, and manager Jon Crompton said that GroupRaise is a mutually beneficial partnership.
“Obviously, it is to support a good cause, but it’s also great for us because it expands our social media profile and allows us to market our business as much as possible,” Crompton said.
Park hopes to reach 5,000 partnering restaurants by this December and he envisions expanding GroupRaise’s service to national charities in the future.
“I really hope to provide more variety of restaurants to people who want to raise money by eating,” Park said. “There are all these amazing charities out there, and I hope to provide a mechanism to simplify their work.”
A version of this article appeared in the Monday, Oct. 3 print edition. Email Nina Huang at [email protected]