Earlier this month, Mendoza College of Business seniors Mary Cornfield, Alisha Anderson and Caitlin Crommett launched BlueBucket, an organization that forms partnerships with restaurants to collect donations for local charities.
“It had originally come up last semester, and then this semester, I’m in a class called Design & Entrepreneurship … so I’m working on BlueBucket in that class,” Cornfield said. “We keep getting positive feedback from customers and restaurants, so we thought we might as well try it out.”
Restaurants participating in the program decide which items on their menu they want to list as BlueBucket items. Then, whenever a patron purchases one of the designated BlueBucket items, a portion of the price is donated to a charity chosen by the customer. “It’s nice to see something we’ve been doing in class actually make it into the community,” Cornfield said. “It’s nice knowing that the products we bring into market is actually helping charities raise money.”
Anderson said the creators of the BlueBucket organization envisioned the program as a community-building agent, linking local restaurants and charities. She said BlueBucket is a different kind of fundraiser because of one key element.
“BlueBucket is unique in that it incorporates the concept of consumer choice,” Andersen said. “There are lot of fundraising techniques out there — round-up, coin collection, credit card-point donations, etc. — but very few incorporate the idea of consumer choice.”
However, the process of launching BlueBucket did not come without its challenges. Cornfield said they underestimated the difficulty of spreading the word about the organization, and Anderson said the process of getting restaurants on board with the program proved to be not as easy as they had predicted.
“The BlueBucket concept seems obvious to us, yet to a customer that is walking into a restaurant, it is not so simple,” Andersen said. “We need to make sure the restaurants and their employees can effectively and clearly communicate the idea to the customer.”
BlueBucket works exclusively with independent restaurants. Currently, there are five restaurants on board: Sassy’s, Indulgence, Rohr’s (at the Morris Inn), Rein Juicery and Thyme of Grace.
Andersen said that from a charitable perspective, she hopes that BlueBucket serves as more than just a fundraiser for the charities involved.
“We hope BlueBucket will be able to not only raise money for several extremely deserving local charities but also bring attention to the great work that they do and perhaps inspire community members to get more involved with such charities,” Andersen said.
“From a restaurant perspective, we hope BlueBucket serves as a way for restaurants to appeal to millennials and the community at large,” she said.