While embracing your sense of social responsibility is reason enough to give back to your local community, doing so also comes with an ancillary benefits for restaurants which make charitable efforts part of their strategies.
Wondering just how important it is to give back, along with how to get started? Let’s take a closer look.
Give Back to your community, Get Back
Bottom lines are tighter than ever for restaurants in today’s increasingly competitive landscape. Which begs the question: how can you afford to give back if you can barely afford to stay afloat? As it turns out, however, this may be looking at things the wrong way.
The latest research shows that not only do contemporary consumers expect businesses to be socially conscious, but they’re willing to reward those who do with their patronage.
In addition to helping you keep your current customers while attracting new ones, social responsibility initiatives come with several other specific advantages, including improved name recognition, a boost to your brand, increased sales and consumer experiences, better talent recruitment, and enhanced relationships with the members of your community.
The takeaway? Rather than asking whether you can afford to make social responsibility part of your restaurant’s business model, the better question might be whether you can afford not to.
There are many different ways to make a contribution to your community and its members. Finding the right charitable activity for your particular interests is the first step.
Perhaps you’re passionate about children’s charities or about feeding the hungry. The options are endless — both in terms of organizations in need of support as well as the kinds of support they need. Consider these tips aimed at helping you get your restaurant off and on its way to giving back.
Find a Cause
The more directly the cause relates to your interests and restaurants, the more connected and eager to contribute your employees will feel.
Short on time? Find a pre-existing community event in need of restaurant sponsorships.
Donating food to an event, such as a walk or run, is a simple way to make an impact…and to receive some sought-after exposure in the process. Your local paper can also yield insights into events in need of food donations.
Involve Your Customers
One amazing way to build customer loyalty? Involve your regulars in the conversation.
Is there a local charity which is near and dear to your customers’ hearts? If so, lending your efforts to the cause can deepen your restaurant’s relationship with its customers.
Consider Different Ways to Donate
Some restaurants find it easiest to donate surplus food directly to a food bank.
But this is far from the only way to make a contribution. Some restaurants donate part of their sales to local hunger-relief programs or other charitable organizations.
Others leverage charitable giving into customer building opportunities by hosting dine-to-donate events on typically slow nights.
This is a win-win situation: it brings diners through the door while serving an organization in need. For high-profile impact, invite chosen charities — from schools to community organizations — to partner with you in hosting and promoting the event.
Host a Holiday Meal
For people at risk of hunger or even those who are merely isolated and lonely, a square meal in the company of others can make all the difference.
Many restaurants host Thanksgiving dinner or another holiday meal for people in need. An added benefit? Volunteering together is a great team-building activity for staff.
Think Beyond Food
While food is a natural fit when it comes to corporate charitable giving, there are other ways to contribute.
For example, youth sports organizations are always on the lookout for sponsors to help cover the cost of everything from uniforms to travel.
Implementing promotional events in partnership with your sponsorship, such as free ice cream for players after a win, can help boost your restaurant’s reputation within the community.
The best part of becoming socially responsible. Whether you’re a brand-new restaurant or you’ve been in the business for 50 years, it’s never too late to start giving back — and to start reaping the benefits in the process.
And while you’re at it, why not look into the National Restaurant Association Education Foundation’s industry awards which donate cash prizes to the charity or community project of each winning restaurant’s choice?