According to the National Restaurant Association, 73% of restaurant owners donate to food relief charities throughout the year. The holidays are one of the biggest opportunities for restaurants to give back to their communities. Not only are you doing something charitable for your local families in need, but customers will see your efforts and may patronize your restaurant more often in return.
Restaurants are poised in an interesting position, as their products cater to one of our most basic necessities: food and nourishment. This means that they’re also in a prime position when it comes to giving back to the community in a way that can truly make a difference for those in need.
Giving back to the community during the holiday can also involve more than just your restaurant and your employees; Get your guests involved, the good PR that comes with your efforts can help to solidify your relationship with community members as well as open up new avenues for growth with people who may have never known about your restaurant in the first place. Here are a few ideas on how your restaurant can give back during this holiday season.
Panera Bread is famous for its year-round program of donating food items at the end of the day to local shelters in need. Collectively, Panera bakery-cafes donated a retail value of approximately 100 million dollars worth of unsold bread and baked goods every year. Instead of seeing unused food items going into the trash at the end of the night, consider adopting a similar program wherein you connect with local shelters and soup kitchens and donate usable food items at the end of every day. Reduce your restaurant’s waste while giving back to the community. And the best part is that this doesn’t have to happen just at the holidays!
Host a Food Drive
This is a great way to get employees and customers involved in charitable donations. Canned foods and other lasting food items can be donated to local shelters and food pantries, but your restaurant can get in on the action by hosting the food drive and matching donations by customers. Offer discounts on meals and other benefits to customers who donate to the food drive as well.
When you commit to donating percentages of sales, you show guests that you’re willing to pinch a few pennies to ensure that others in the community are fed during the holiday season. You can also allow for customers to directly donate as well during this time, and be sure to promote your donation timeframes.
It’s best to choose charities that are related to your industry, such as a local food bank or pantry. Remember, the closer you can tie the charity to your business purpose, the stronger and more effective it can be as a marketing tool for you.
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