Charities are always looking for ways to raise money, and you can benefit at the same time. Collect as much merchandise donations as you can from your vendors, surrounding businesses, radio stations and other contacts. Then conduct a silent auction of some of the smaller items and an exciting live auction for the larger items. All of the proceeds from the auction go to the charity of your choice.
You also can easily collect contributions at the door by raising the cover charge by $1 and letting your customers know the extra buck is going to the charity. This will create awareness for unsuspecting customers that walk into a silent or live auction already in progress. You’ll probably draw some people to your place for this type of event that wouldn’t normally come to your place — plus, it is just good manners to be involved in your community!
A variation on this is to get food and drink donations and throw a free party for a charity. We host a party for children with cancer every year. It is a great feeling to give back to the community that supports you, and you will probably get some publicity for your efforts, as well.