Why does it seem like restaurants receive more than our fair share of donation requests?   At our Round Table Pizza locations, we used to receive calls for donation requests from all over Washington State – miles beyond our trade area.

Yes, we’re an easy target.  Yes, most restaurants giving back do so because they want to give back.     Yes, it’s the right thing to do.  And, yes, most restaurants want to support our surrounding communities and schools….but, are we our own worst enemy, when it comes to giving back?

The problem for restaurants giving back is:

  • We receive far more donation requests than we can possibly approve;   yet,
  • There is no easy way to say “no” especially if the individual asking is might be a customer;
  • It’s nearly impossible to promote our community support without appearing self –serving;
  • The tax receipt letters and comments of “thanks” that come in the mail are not easily sharable.

These 5 tips for restaurants giving back will help you grow

brand loyalty and perceived value

1.   Don’t “spray & pray”, instead narrow your giving to organizations that are located in your trade-area.

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At my Round Table Pizza restaurants, we now give within a 5-10 mile radius of each location.  We use GIVINGtrax to publish our community story & giving criteria on a public page that’s linked to our facebook page. 

We further align our community support to our target customer profile – in our case, schools, youth oriented teams, children & family organizations focusing on causes that our customers and employees care about. 
 

 
2.   Be Transparent – 90% of consumers want to know how you give back!

Be Transparent When Giving Back

We share donations as they are approved to our dedicated GIVINGtrax page and to our facebook pages automatically.  We even go so far as to share the overall total we’ve given on our page.  This helps us be more transparent, but it has also given us a marketing boost. 

Using GIVINGtrax has helped us to build sales and positive brand exposure.   You can view how this works by visiting one of our facebook pages and clicking on “We Give Back”.

Here’s an example:     https://www.facebook.com/RoundTablePizzaTacoma.   When we do have to say “no”, folks are now much more understanding and give us credit for how much we do give back.
 
 
3.  Invite the nonprofit, school to pay for half…. or at least part. 

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Canlis Restaurant has a goal of giving back $500,000 and they are doing it through a matching gift program and gift cards, according to a recent blog post on GIVINGtrax.   Nonprofits pay for half of the cost of the gift card. 

This works great for fine dining establishments because gift cards often sell at fundraisers for 3-4 times the face value.   It’s a win-win and they are able to give so much more.   Nonprofit recipients are more apt to recognize the value of the donation when they are co-sharing the burden of the cost.

Scrip – You may not be able to support a 50% discount rate, as Canlis Restaurant does, but their program is very similar to SCRIP, which is a fundraising program many restaurants and other retailers participate in to help raise funds for schools.  SCRIP consists of selling gift cards at a discounted rate, typically 3% -20% to organizations, who then resell them at face value to their community.  It’s a great way to build brand loyalty, attract new customers and give back at the same time.
 

 4.  Takeover Fundraisers – Takeovers are a great way to fill the restaurant and attract new customers.
 
takeover-fundraisers
 
Takeover Fundraisers are a collaborative event where the school or nonprofit organization helps to staff the restaurant for an evening and a percent of the evening’s proceeds go back to that organization. 

We typically offer takeovers on Mondays & Tuesdays, to fill up our restaurants on slower days. They are a great way to attract new customers.

 

 

5.   Leverage social media sharing – There is nothing wrong with asking for some awareness. 

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Let’s face it.  We could all give more or even tap into advertising budgets to fund giving back if we got some kind of marketing exposure in return.

With rising costs, we can no longer afford to give back without gaining some awareness of our community support.  One way is to ask for the person making the donation request, to post your support on their facebook page and tag your page, tweet it out and email their peers (think school parent distribution lists).  You’ll be surprised at the response.

By adopting these tips ourselves, we not only give more, but for the first time, we are finally being recognized for all the community support we’ve provided over the years.

Lance Hungerford,

Proventur, Round Table Pizza Fanchisee Owner