Canadian Pizza Magazine

Making Dough with Diane: April-May 2015

Diane Chiasson   

Features Business and Operations Marketing

Six great ideas for charity marketing

Consumers are more interested in patronizing businesses that are involved with their community, as suggested by recent research. This strategy, in itself, can create more loyal customers.

There are several ways to get your pizza operation involved in the community to help those in need, and by doing so, you will also be giving your customers the opportunity to do something that will make them feel good about themselves.

Try the following ideas for some feel-good marketing campaigns:

1. Help fight childhood hunger
As a foodservice business, it only makes sense that your pizza operation be involved with charities that address childhood hunger. Work with a local non-profit charity that helps feed hungry kids. Encourage your customers to drop change from their purchases into a donation box near your cash registers and make weekly pizza donations to school lunch programs in lower-income areas.


2. Offer at-risk youth employment and training skills
Start an internship program at your pizzeria that helps young people in difficult circumstances learn job and life skills. By offering at-risk youth the opportunity to take responsibility, gain confidence, earn some money and learn skills for long-term employment in the future, you can help put them on the right path to creating better lives for themselves.

Track each person’s story on social media so that your customers can offer words of encouragement and follow along on the path to success.  

3. Encourage your staff and customers to volunteer at food banks
Most people are willing to help out in one way or another, but often don’t have the time or don’t make the effort to help. Work with your local food bank to arrange two-hour volunteer sessions for your staff or your customers. Whether you post a sign-up sheet in your bakery or create an online form, make it easy for people to get involved. Your customers will appreciate your commitment to battling hunger and will feel good about themselves after helping out for a few hours.

4. Donate unsold pizza or dough
Instead of throwing leftover food in the dumpster at the end of the day, consider donating it to a rescue mission, food pantry, food bank, soup kitchen, senior citizens residence, nursing home or school. You can even divide it up by donating your daily intake to a different non-profit every night. Assign one staff member on your team to deliver the donated items at the end of their shift or arrange with the non-profit agencies to pick them up at your store. Your customers will appreciate your charitable donations and know for certain they are getting only your freshest ingredients in the food you serve.

5. Pay it forward
More and more foodservice operations around the world are adopting a “pay-it-forward” system, whereby customers can buy an extra item, designated as “pending,” that can later be collected by people in need. Items can range from a simple cup of coffee to a slice of pizza to a whole pizza. This strategy gives your business a chance to help your community in a direct and easy way. Your customers will not only appreciate the opportunity to help those in need but also the fact that you are looking out for others. Post your pay-it-forward stories on social media.

6. Good karma board
If you like the pay-it-forward concept, why not give your customers the opportunity to buy a treat for someone else by putting their names up on a “Good Karma Gift Board.” The board should say to whom the gift is directed, whom it is from, why they are getting it and what they are getting. The marketing strategy here is that you will make your customers feel good about themselves for giving a gift or receiving a gift.

Reaching out to your community can create more loyal customers and help everyone – staff and customers – feel good about helping those in need.

Diane Chiasson, FCSI, president of Chiasson Consultants Inc., has been helping restaurant, foodservice, hospitality and retail operators increase sales for over 30 years. Her company provides innovative and revenue-increasing foodservice and retail merchandising programs, interior design, branding, menu engineering, marketing and promotional campaigns, and much more. Contact her at 416-926-1338, toll-free at 1-888-926-6655 or via, or visit

Print this page


Stories continue below