Promote your restaurant by getting involved with your community

Eight steps to promoting your business by getting involved with your community
By Diane Chiasson
November 28, 2011
Cause marketing: promote your restaurant by getting involved with your community

As the holidays rapidly approach, people begin to get into the giving spirit. Now is the perfect time to for your restaurant to get into that spirit as well by offering to help fundraise for your local community.

This is a great way for your restaurant to get some free publicity, increase your return customer visits, and everyone feels good about the end result – a win-win situation for all involved.

Diane Chiasson, FCSI, President of Chiasson Consultants Inc., a restaurant and foodservice consultancy firm in Toronto, offers these suggestions on how you can apply cause marketing to your operation:

1. Find a cause

There are several different types of opportunities where you can help fundraise including supporting a local sports team, a school group, Scouts, charities, church groups, homeless shelters, or a foundation. Or perhaps there is a person or family in your community that needs help, or a local or national disaster to which your community will want to contribute. Regardless of the cause, a fundraising opportunity will help drive customers to your operation and make you a hero in the community at the same time.

2. Work out a fair promotion

Once you have decided on which cause you will support, figure out how you will help raise the money. There are several different ways in which you can help to raise funds for a group. Many restaurants opt for a “buy one get one free” deal, while others offer a discount card. You could also donate a certain percentage of your sales, or donate the sales of one particular menu item to your cause.

3. Choose a timeline

You will also need to figure out how long you will run this fundraising promotion. It can be a continual program, whereby customers can donate to your cause with every visit to your restaurant or foodservice operation. You could also target a goal of a certain dollar amount, or set a specific time frame

in which you have to raise the money, coinciding with an event. For example, if you are helping to raise money for a local sports team, you could run the fundraising up until the championship game.

4. Gain free promotions

Once you have agreed to help a particular group fundraise, it is almost guaranteed that this group will go out and do all the promotional work. For example, a school group may hang posters all over town, and hand out fliers advertising your restaurant’s brand and deal. Ensure that you provide the group with proper branding and identity.

5. Build your database

Helping a group fundraise will also help you build your own private database without the hassle of trying to collect names and email addresses yourself. Make sure you take advantage of this opportunity, and get the list of names from the group.

6. Use social media

Take advantage of social media groups by generating group profiles and using Twitter and/or Facebook to announce your fundraiser, and get people excited and involved. If you choose something that is close to the hearts of your community, they will respond.

7. Contact the media

Make sure you notify your local media as to when you plan to launch your community-wide fundraiser, and invite them to the kick off party. Provide them with some history of the cause you are supporting, and any personal connection you have with the group. Remember, a good story will garner more interest.

8. Thank your customers

Make sure you acknowledge the fact that your customers have helped to support a great cause. Whether you give them a physical note or card when you present them with a bill, or send them an email the next day, give thanks to their contribution. This gesture will not only make your customers feel good about their charitable move, but will also help them remember your restaurant the next time they want to dine out!

See also: 

About the author:

Diane Chiasson, FCSI, president of Chiasson Consultants Inc., has been helping restaurant, foodservice, hospitality and retail operators increase sales for over 25 years. She is recognized as one of the best restaurant consultants in Toronto. Her company provides innovative and revenue-increasing foodservice and retail merchandising programs, interior design, branding, menu engineering, marketing and promotional campaigns, and much more. Contact her at 416-926-1338, toll-free at 1-888-926-6655, or visit

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