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GroupRaise lets students donate to a charity of their choice by going to dinner at restaurants that are part of the app.

Credit: Nina Selipsky

With the help of a startup, groups on Penn’s campus can raise money by doing nothing more than eating out with friends.

GroupRaise is a startup that allows organizations including Penn clubs to fundraise for themselves or for social causes they’re passionate about at local Philadelphia restaurants, and is already being used by Penn Colleges Against Cancer and a number of other groups at Drexel University and Temple University.

Formed by recent graduates from a number of different schools, GroupRaise was founded on the idea that the act of giving should be a memorable process, making restaurant fundraisers a way to advocate for causes while enjoying a social gathering.

Because of the company’s focus on providing an accessible variety of restaurant options and price ranges, it has reached 300 campuses across the nation. All stakeholders benefit, as the startup charges the restaurant a fixed fee, the restaurants earn more revenue with more customers, and the fundraisers receive a percentage of the proceeds from the restaurant.

“Forty percent of people who go to the restaurant go for a GroupRaise meal; 96 percent are willing to come back”, said Sean Park, co-founder of GroupRaise. Customers coming back to the restaurant is a large reason why restaurants are willing to host GroupRaise fundraisers, even though they both have to pay a fee and donate a portion of their profits.

The startup emphasizes making a social impact by providing students with preset charities, where the amount earned is donated directly to a choice of organizations, including those advocating for good health, clean water, food security, education and social entrepreneurship.

Penn clubs can also raise money for their own groups as long as they register as a nonprofit under the University. GroupRaise aims to make these dinners a great way to expand the budget of the club, while members can socially interact.

“If GroupRaise is marketed well, it would have a big market here,” Wharton freshman Wendy Lee said. Both Penn clubs and GroupRaise would benefit from the restaurant fundraiser if there is a high demand for the startup’s concept.

Penn clubs seem inclined to use GroupRaise as a win-win way of interacting with the club while raising money.

“For the first social event of the year, we went to a restaurant that would probably use GroupRaise. It seems like a really good idea for future events,” Penn Taiwanese Society freshman member Andrew Tsai said.

As GroupRaise continues to expand, the challenge for the startup will be balancing the generation of revenue for the survival of the company but also maintaining the company’s devotion to the social causes. In the long run, the startup hopes to expand beyond the college market of the United States and into the international scene.

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