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Maximizing Your Restaurant Promotions While Helping Out In Fundraising Programs

How do you maximize your marketing efforts when you’re joining fundraising programs?

Two restaurants which have been part of the U.S. non-profit organization Share Our Strength’s No Kid Hungry campaign (we reported about their 2012 campaign last month) share how they helped their customers give back to their community and at the same time increased restaurant sales and customer traffic.

Joe’s Crab Shack’s bounce-back program

Houston-based Joe’s Crab Shack has been helping out in the Dine Out No Kid Hungry campaign since it started in 2008. In all these years that the casual-dining chain has been involved in the initiative, its fundraising campaign has gone from merely contributing a minimal percentage of sales to its various locations to being able to develop an aggressive promotions and marketing strategy, leading it to become the fundraising project’s top fundraiser last year. Joe’s Crab Shack has raised a total of $783,000 for the campaign last September 2011.

“We were able to develop our bounce-back program as we drove to find and show a business reason that could also aid in driving donations,” said the chain’s senior vice president for marketing Robin Ahearn. “It has been quite successful–we have seen great response from our customers.”

The brand spent the whole month of September promoting the fundraising project, giving out a gift certificate for an order of key lime pie to customers who donate a dollar. Those who gave $5 got crab nachos gift certificates, while customers who gave $10 received Original Steampot gift vouchers. The certificates could be redeemed after the guests purchase an entrée, and were valid for three months after the fundraising campaign in September.

“The guests believe that their donation and what they got in return is of value,” said Ahearn. “And the strategy effectively drove a return visit.”

But the best thing that happened was the involvement that Joe’s Crab Shack’s employees showed to management, ensuring the success of the project. “We’ve had the greatest employment engagement we have ever seen,” Ahearn said. “Our employees in smart restaurant aprons amazingly moved—from organizing the campaign’s events to just merely asking people to get involved.”

Corner Bakery Café’s multi-tiered approach

Corner Bakery Café was equally successful in their implementation of the program. They’ve also been involved in the Dine Out No Kid Hungry Campaign since 2008, and has reached a donation of $210,000 to date.

The Dallas-based chain made use of a multi-tiered approach which included in-café promotions, guest donations, social media and online promotions.

Customers who give $1 to the fundraising drive got a voucher for a free cookie or a whoopie pie. For those who donated $5 or more, the chain’s staff in cool restaurant aprons gave them a booklet with $30 worth of vouchers which could be used for the their future visits or they could exchange it for menu items such as kids’ meals, coffee, or a cup of soup.

“We ran the offer from September 1 to 24 and the result was astounding,” said Corner Bakery’s senior vice president of marketing Diana Hovey. ”We saw an amazing in-store support and traffic lifts that month. There was a 47% redemption rate for our whoopie pie vouchers, which was a key driver of our improved traffic.”

As can be seen, maximizing your restaurant’s marketing initiative through your involvement in any of your community’s fundraising campaigns not only boosts your much-needed CSR (corporate social responsibility) image but also lifts guest traffic and restaurant sales. A business with a heart, yet consistently profitable.