Restaurant Cause Marketing: In an October 2014 National Restaurant Association news announcement titled “For restaurants, charity begins at home,” the Association cited research estimating the restaurant industry donated nearly $3 billion to charitable efforts in 2013.
Corporate responsibility within the restaurant industry has evolved beyond grandstanding-- as restaurants of all sizes see multiple benefits from actively supporting charities favored by their patrons.
The "Edelman goodpurpose 2012" study projected that 72 percent of U.S. consumers would recommend a brand that supports a good cause over one that doesn't.
Given this, as a restaurant owner, manager or marketer, you should be asking: What causes should my restaurant support?
A 2014 "Statistica" survey of restaurant customers in the United States, listed these as the “Top 5” types of charities they would like to see restaurants support:
1. Those that fight hunger (48% of survey respondents)
2. Those that help poor families (41%)
3. Those that help children (28%)
4. Short-term disaster relief (28%)
5. Those that fight diseases (26%)
Here for your inspiration are examples of three philanthropically-inclined restaurant chains who’ve run cause marketing programs to benefit charities in those top segments:
Wendy’s Campaign for Foster Care Adoption
In 2014, 90% of Wendy’s restaurants across the U.S. participated in a national campaign to sell Frosty Key Tags. Purchases of $1 Wendy’s branded key tags raised funds for the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption and provided customers with a free Jr. Frost with any purchase through the end of the year. Touting the tagline “Every child deserves a childhood,” Wendy’s Forever Family campaign resonated with customers, raising more than $4 million for the foundation and helping 4,000 children in foster homes to find homes, thus far.
Denny’s & Booster.com Team Up for “No Kid Hungry”
Since 2011, 1,600 Denny's restaurants nationwide have run annual coupon sales campaigns which have raised $1.4 million for Share Our Strength's No Kid Hungry, the leading nonprofit focused on ending child hunger in America. Last summer (2014), Denny’s expanded its initative by teaming up with T-shirt fundraising site Booster.com. The campaign began with a nationwide contest for Denny's employees to submit compelling t-shirt designs to spread the word about No Kid Hungry. Three final t-shirt designs were selected, and put up for sale for $10 each on a #DennyNKH-branded t-shirt fundraising web page. Encouraged by social media, and driven by active participation by Denny’s franchises, team members and customers, Denny’s raised $18,000 from t-shirt sales alone and revenue from donations jumped 30% over the prior year. Beyond raising money, management at No Kid Hungry claim that the t-shirts also helped raise spirits and public awareness about the more than 16 million American children struggling with hunger. Denny’s is continuing the t-shirt fundraiser in 2015.
Chili’s More Hope Campaign for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital
The fall of 2013 marked the 10-year anniversary of a partnership between Chili’s Grill & Bar and St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital, a globally respected leader in the treatment childhood cancer and other life-threatening diseases. Timed to coincide with Childhood Cancer Awareness month each September, Chili's restaurants across the country as well as in Puerto Rico have participated in the company’s Chili’s “More Hope” Campaign, offering a number of in-restaurant and online giving opportunities designed to raise funds for St. Jude. In 2013 and 2014, Chili’s raised more than $5 million for St. Jude and to date, has raised more than $54 million. This effort surpassed their $50 million commitment and did this two years early. In 2015, Chili’s and the Create-A-Pepper campaign is extending their partnership with St. Jude beyond the month of September and Childhood Cancer Awareness Month and taking part in the St. Jude Thanks and Giving® campaign.
Cause marketing and social fundraising isn’t just for large, national restaurant chains. Embracing and supporting the causes and issues your own patrons care about can let you “do the right thing,” while also enhancing your connection to customers, fostering loyalty, repeat business, and favorable word of mouth referrals. Why should your restaurant do this?
Just Be Cause.
This guest post written by Andrew Moss, President of t-shirt fundraising site Booster.com (Newton, MA)