Jason Tober
Blog, Operational efficiency

Quick service restaurants have long been known for giving back to the community. For more than 40 years, the Ronald McDonald House has given back to families of hospitalized children. This year, Dominoes started filling potholes in certain cities. And both brands have benefited from their good deeds.

Charitable giving is appealing because it’s the right thing to do, but it’s also good for business. Giving back to the community can improve customer loyalty and retention by creating a personal connection between your restaurant and your customers. Here’s how charitable giving can boost customer loyalty and retention, and how you can make the most of it.

Making a connection

In the era of social media, consumers can learn about a restaurant in seconds by going online. As a result, the social aspect of running a business has become just as important as traditional management, like operations and finance. Restaurants need to establish an identity to connect with their customers, and perhaps the best way to make that connection is by giving back to the community.

Participating in charitable events shows that a business cares about its customers and their communities. Seeing a brand working with a charity that customers are passionate about, like Habitat for Humanity, creates a strong, personal connection with that brand.

Millennials are especially responsive to charitable giving. A 2015 study from Cone Communications found that 91% of Millennials would switch to a brand that is associated with a cause.

By giving to or participating in charities, QSRs have a unique opportunity to establish a personal connection with their customers. Restaurants that give back to the community stand out in a way that traditional advertising can’t compete with.

Attracting and retaining employees

The best way to attract and retain quality employees is to make them proud to be a part of your team. Giving back to the community doesn’t just help attract customers, it also shows employees that their business cares about the community, and draws in prospective new employees.

Millennial employees are even more responsive to charitable giving. The same Cone Communications study found that 62% of Millennials would actually take a pay cut to work for a company that demonstrates social responsibility.

Giving helps retain quality employees, too. As we’ve discussed previously, engaged employees are typically better performers. Being proud of where you work plays a huge role in employee engagement.

Ready to get started?

Here are a few simple ways to make charitable giving a part of your restaurants.

  1. Get local. Sponsor a youth sports team. Cater an event for a local high school. Establishing your restaurant as a presence in the community is a great way to give back.
  2. Organize a drive. Set up bins to collect food for local food banks or toys for Toys for Tots. This is an easy way to participate in social responsibility with minimal impact on day-to-day operations, and it can make a huge impact.
  3. Direct giving. Get straight to the point and make a direct charitable donation to your (or your community’s) favorite cause. Direct donations are a great way to show your support.
  4. Execute brand-specific initiatives. Many QSRs have brand-specific volunteering initiatives they can take part in. The overall brand does all the work for the operators and the teams just have to execute and have fun! For instance, every year the Taco Bell Foundation puts together charity events for their franchisees.

There are many ways to participate in charitable giving, from engaging locally through catering or sponsorships, to large-scale donations to causes you’re passionate about. Think of sponsorships like advertising, but with the added benefits or helping the community and building customer loyalty and retention. If you’re not already giving back, consider how your restaurants could benefit from charitable giving.

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