Giving back is an essential part of any business, from national and familiar restaurants, to family-owned smaller pizzerias. Partnering with a charity is a great way to build ties within the community while continuing to strengthen brand awareness. With what seems like an infinite number of worthy charities and causes in need, it can seem daunting to choose who to partner with and how.
Here are a few guidelines to get you started.
The more passionate you and your employees are about a certain cause, the more motivated everyone will be to show support. I always recommend referring to your brand pillars to see what causes are close to your heart and what will resonate with your key audience or demographic. For example, if your pizzeria is focused on local and sustainable sourcing, consider a charity partner that has that same emphasis, like an organization that makes healthy food more accessible. If your pizzeria is focused on family-friendly dining, consider a partner that helps children in need. If a member of your team has been personally impacted by a disease or illness, rally around a charity that’s focus is helping those affected by the disease.
Listen to your employees concerning needs they see in the community or what resonates with them. With a seat at the table in decision making, it will make the whole team stronger and more proactive with fundraising or volunteering efforts.
Foster the Relationship
After deciding on an aligned partnership, it’s crucial to reach out to the organization and start building a relationship. Explain why you want to partner with them, what about their work inspires you and your employees, and most importantly, ask how you can be of support. Is the charity desperately in need of volunteers? Suggest that your staff has a “Day of Volunteering” where everyone comes together to tackle a project. If the most beneficial way to contribute is through dollars, organize a day, week, month, or portion of sales donated from a select dish. Then, be sure to regularly communicate with your charity partner to see the best way your restaurant can be of support as time evolves.
Strengthen Your Team
No matter the charity partner, creating your personal brand narrative requires a strong, dedicated and educated team. During the hiring and training processes, be sure to highlight your charity partner to ensure employees are well-versed in why your restaurant is aligned with the selected charity. Giving employees a background on your partner ensures a clear message for guests and inspires employees to know that they’re making a difference.
Go Beyond a Donation
To ensure a long-lasting and mutually beneficial relationship for both you and the charity, consider donating services or time rather than just a monetary contribution. If the charity has an annual event or dinner, suggest that your team donate its time. Having a team leader get involved with the charity in a deeper way, whether through a board position or by offering guidance and strategy, can be a priceless experience.
As business owners, it’s vital to give back to our communities. My hope is that by following these guidelines, you develop a partnership that is mutually beneficial for your pizzeria and the charity you choose to support.
Eric J. Greenwald is President & Chief Operating Officer of Grimaldi’s Pizzeria and a member of Grimaldi’s Pizzeria’s Executive Team. Greenwald leads a company with 45 restaurants in 14 states and nearly 2,500 employees. In addition to his leadership at Grimaldi’s, Greenwald serves as the Co-Chair for the NRA Pizza Industry Council, and the Co-Chair for Dine Out for No Kid Hungry Advisory Board, Share Our Strength.
Opinions expressed by PMQ contributors are their own.