Between corporate catering opportunities, dine-in visits (and takeout) from college students returning home for winter break, and special Thanksgiving/Christmas menus, there are lots of ways for restaurants to generate seasonal revenue during Q4. But along with the spikes, there are also slow periods in November and December that put an unavoidable ding in your year-end bottom line. To ramp up your covers and foot traffic, there’s a clever solution that could not only enhance your sales, it could also bring much needed income to a deserving organization in your community.
The answer is to partner with a local non-profit or charitable organization and schedule a day to earmark a portion of your sales as a donation to the organization. The fundraising event can be promoted—for free—via local newspapers and local news websites as well as the social media channels and email databases of the partner organization.
Here’s how to do it:
Select a local charitable or non-profit recipient (preferably non-political) that connects with your interests and passion. Examples include a food pantry, an animal shelter, a public school organization (marching band, sports team, club, graduation event, etc.), a community pre-K, a program that supports senior citizens, etc.
Contact the organization and ask if they’d be interested in being the recipient of fundraising monies that your event can make possible. As you can imagine, most if not all will be very interested in this opportunity—especially if it doesn’t require any special effort or hard work to reap the financial benefits that you’re aiming to deliver.
Collaborate with the selected organization’s communications director to choose a day and time when the event will be held. A portion of all sales that take place during this prescribed block would be donated to the partner organization.
Work with the communications director to schedule an email blast to the organization’s donors about the upcoming event (including the essential where/when/what details), and to the general public via scheduled posts on their social channels.
Contact local news outlets (print, online) at least two weeks before the event with a press release about the fundraising initiative so that they can amplify marketplace awareness.
A few days prior to the big day, post eye-catching signage outside of your restaurant with the details of the event to build excitement and stimulate walk-in traffic.
Optional elements that can elevate excitement, attendance, and monies raised can include:
Hold a raffle for a giveaway prize—such as a catered dinner, cooking lessons, or gift card for the winning ticket holder. All raffle proceeds would be donated to the partner organization.
Offer to augment the total funds that are raised at the event with a matching donation.
When you’re ready to present the raised (and matched) monies to the partner organization, schedule a photo shoot with your employees and the leaders of the partner organization. Submit this photo, along with a news announcement, to your local media (print, online, TV) and you’ll get a double dose of coverage about your generous good deed.
This easy-to-execute holiday idea not only offers a new stream of revenue for the partner charitable organization, it also builds awareness of your restaurant in the marketplace, ramps up your search rank, increases customer volume, creates a potent edge over your competitors, and positions your restaurant as a valuable and contributing member of the community.
Rafe Gomez is the co-owner of VC Inc. Marketing, an award-winning provider of thought leadership development and sales support media coverage services to organizations across the country - including hospitality companies and restaurants. Rafe’s work has been featured in Forbes, Inc., CNBC, Fast Company, Adweek, and Entrepreneur.