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Charitable Chains

Restaurant operators explore engaging new ways to contribute to the greater good.

Coin boxes for the March of Dimes alongside the register at the local diner. Pizza parlor logos on the backs of Little League jerseys. From mom-and-pops to the largest chains, restaurants have a rich history of supporting their communities through charitable contributions.

Fast-forward to today. Inspired by social media and participatory experiences, restaurant operators are finding bold new ways to raise not just money, but also awareness, for local causes while encouraging dialogue with consumers.

An interactive charity experience. Take fast casual pizza brand Blast 825º. Combining fun and cause-marketing awareness, the chain celebrated a recent grand opening by having representatives from four local charities create custom “pizza works of art” reflecting the taste of each organization, using ingredients from the chain’s 40 toppings. For a full week, when customers ordered a charity’s custom pizza, 50% of the purchase price was donated to the charity while counting as a vote for the “People’s Choice” pizza. The winning charity’s pizza was a featured menu item for a month—with an additional 30% of the pizza’s proceeds going to the charity.

Connecting with local charities on a global scale. Jersey Mike’s Subs recently joined with its generous customers to raise more than $3 million for 150 different charities nationwide during their annual “Month of Giving.” For a full month, customers were invited to visit a Jersey Mike’s location to make a donation to a local charity partner. The campaign culminated in a nationwide Jersey Mike’s “Day of Giving” where 100% of the day’s sales were donated to each local charity partner. To date the annual program has raised more than $8 million for charities across the country.

Programs that engage both the consumer and the nonprofit are the way of the future for cause marketing. By tying charitable initiatives into new-store or product launches, restaurants can earn a halo with the local community while attracting new customers.

Philanthropic efforts resonate with consumers

  • Nearly 3 in 10 customers agree it’s important that restaurants they visit are socially responsible
  • The social media–cultivated event #GivingTuesday follows Black Friday and Cyber Monday and encourages consumers to support charitable causes
  • Fast casual players BurgerFi, Fazoli’s, Xoco and Tortas Frontera are active #GivingTuesday participants