Is Your Restaurant Working with Charities Around the Holidays?

By: Gina Lee De Freitas

The holiday season is thought to be a time of reflection and giving. If you own a restaurant, then the spirit of generosity should also be a component of your PR and community outreach.

By working with charities during the holiday season, you can help provide support and awareness to causes during a time when they need it most. In addition, you can round out the public image of your restaurant business to be more than just a profit generator – you can become a true cornerstone of your community.

To help your restaurant prepare for the holiday, charity marketing season, you can use the following ideas to give back and find success.

Hold a Charity Marketing Fundraising Event

People look for memorable and interesting ways to spend their time around the holidays with friends, family and peers. Provide a unique experience for them by hosting an upscale event where all proceeds go to charity.

You can highlight specific foods or talents in your community to raise interest in the event, such as partnering with a local microbrewery or winery for food pairings. The more exclusive and community-focused your event feels; the more people will be clamoring to get a seat.

Soup Kitchen Catering and Other Volunteering

Restaurant owners and staff leaders can donate their time alongside employee volunteers to help out a local charity. You can donate food, in addition to time, at a local soup kitchen or provide snacks and gifts to an event for the underprivileged, who may not receive much holiday cheer.

An afternoon spent in the community and a couple hundred dollars’ worth of donated foods can make a huge impact in the successes of charitable programs around the holidays.

Donated Gifts to Community Leaders or Personal Heroes

Many of those who inspire the community may not have the means to live comfortably around the holidays. For example, a person who volunteers their time and energy to help special needs children, may not have heat in their home this time of year.

Find people who need recognition and support by asking your patrons and social media audiences who they think deserves to be recognized in a special way. The most inspirational story can result in a donation to the personal hero of choice or the “prize” can instead be a donation given in their name to their cause of choice.

Before Working with Any Charity: Do Your Research

It is important to remember when planning events like the ones above that not all charities are created equal. Use the following rules to help you determine which charities make a true impact versus ones that only seem like they do:

  • Look for specific disclosures on how donations are spent. Ideally, close to 80-100% of donations should go to the cause that the charity claims to support.
  • Look to locally-based organizations over national or international ones. For instance, instead of supporting PETA or the ASPCA, support your local humane society.
  • Reach out to the charity during the planning stage for their guidance on promotion and collaboration.
  • If you plan on using donations as a write-off, be sure to plan your tax arrangements with your accountant in advance. Also, ensure any charity you work with is a registered 501(c) organization.
  • Be sure to follow recommended style guidelines when referring to vulnerable communities in your area. The ADA maintains a great style manual for referring to people with disabilities, for instance, while the AMA Manual of Style offers guidelines for referring to older adults.

By using some of these ideas and following the recommendations above, you can ensure that everyone in your community can have a merrier and happier holiday season all around!

About Butts in Seats!

When it comes to restaurant marketing, we know what we are talking about. Gina Lee, President, respectively, of IMM has 25+ years of experience in the vertical. So, when they talk about the tools, tips and resources your restaurant needs to succeed in the Butts in Seats blog and newsletter, rest assured they’ve got it covered.

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