By providing a valuable service to your community, you can generate hundreds of new customers without it costing you anything.

Case in point: Catalina's Take 'n' Bake Pizza Shop in Gahanna, Ohio. Recently, the owner of Catalina's, Kathy Hartman, heard about a local family whose house burned down. They lost practically everything. "We wanted to raise money for this family so we decided to have a benefit weekend for them," Kathy said.

Hartman approached the family to arrange the event. The family would receive half of pizza sales generated, over 30 each day, from Thursday through Saturday. However, it was up to the family and their friends to promote the event. By putting fourth a major promotional effort, the family could potentially raise a great deal of money to help them get back on their feet. And they did. They passed out flyers and put up posters in every single business in the Vista Plaza, except Domino's Pizza!

The results were phenomenal. The event was a huge success for both the family and Catalina's Take and Bake Shop.

  • $1300 was raised for the family.
  • Catalina's doubled sales and their customer count during the event.
  • Seventy percent were new customers.
  • There was TV exposure on the CBS, ABC and Fox affiliates newscasts plus several articles in two suburban newspapers.
  • Dozens of area businesses promoted the event in their stores and donated printing of posters, flyers and banners.
  • Catalina's out-of-pocket expense was a mere $10.

To execute a successful fund raising program we suggest the following:

Keep It Local – When looking for a worthy cause, make sure it is local so the whole neighborhood will support the cause.

Plan It – Make sure you are organized and outline everything you want to accomplish before you set off planning this fundraiser.

Contact Local Media – Hartman contacted the suburban newspapers to do stories on the event and sent out press releases to the local TV and radio stations. Make sure you have a photographer on hand at the check presentation ceremony for some post publicity.

Contact Area Businesses – It is hard to do everything yourself.

Contact other businesses and have them put up posters in their stores and pass out flyers to promote the event.

Get Recipient Support – Success is much greater when the recipients fully support the fund raising efforts with their sweat equity. Make sure the recipients are really willing to hustle. They must be willing to get out in the neighborhood to invite everyone into your store for the event.

Give Out Bounce Backs – To motivate those first-time customers to return, they were also given a "bounce-back" coupon that allowed for both a discount and an additional donation on their next pizza purchase. It has an expiration date of two weeks to give a sense of urgency.

Be Ready – Make sure you have plenty of product and labor on hand for the event. You will be introducing your business to many new customers and you only have one shot to impress them.

BizSmart Action Plan

  • Choose a good local cause for your fundraiser.
  • Base your donation as a percentage for normal sales.
  • Require that the group promote and support the event.
  • Contact local media to get exposure before and after the event.
  • Ask area businesses to put up flyers and donate printing of materials.
  • Use a bounce back coupon to get new customers back.
  • Be prepared with sufficient labor and product.


Jeff and Marc Slutsky are co-authors of five books including StreetFighting. They are executives of Street Fighter Marketing in Columbus, Ohio, which specializes in teaching how to promote, market, and increase sales without spending a lot of money. Jeff and his brother Marc have a variety of audio and video tapes. For further information contact Jeff or Marc at: 800(SLUTSKY) 758-8759 • 614-337-2233 fax • 467 Waterbury Court • Columbus, OH, 43230