How many gift certificates, gift baskets, complimentary appetizers, and meals did you donate last year? And the year before, and the year before that? And, what did you get in return? Most of us don’t ever know the answer to those questions. We all keep a gift certificate log in a book with numbered and signed gift certificates. Don’t we? But, we seldom track other complimentary offerings. Well, if you pay attention to what’s going out the front door, you can make the goodwill back, ten fold.
Establishing a donation policy for your company is very important. More importantly though, is making sure that what you give is innovative and appealing to the people who receive it. Mediocrity only hurts when it comes to donations. And, with the current explosion of charitable silent auctions and philanthropic expenditures, donations can pay off by adding valued customers to your client list.
Of course, that isn’t why we donate. But, it sure is a nice perk. Nothing beats the recognition, and the word of mouth that goes along with it, from an event well done.
There are three steps to follow when donating.
First, make sure the donation represents what you do best. If hospitality is your forte, make sure the guest come to your restaurant early to have appetizers and cocktails with the owner or chef before they enjoy their gift certificate meal.
Second, make sure that you always get the recipient of the donation, whether a high bidder at an auction or an award winner at a charity event, to come to your restaurant or bakery or store, even if it is to pick up the gift you’ve given. By making sure this is a step in the process, you get the winner in your place of business so they can see and feel what you do. If you can’t do this because the charity needs to present the item at the event, make sure you place a small card in the basket telling the recipient they have a chilled bottle of wine, or appetizers, or dessert waiting for them at the restaurant. If it’s a meal at your restaurant, have a small delightful dessert waiting for the winner at the silent auction. It gives you added exposure in front of a large group of people.
Finally, nothing beats an in-house event. One of the greatest gift certificates in recent times was an Oakville Grocery donation of a pizza night at their new San Francisco store. The gourmet icon of Napa Valley offered the celebration to a local charity’s silent auction. The night was magnificent, complete with a strolling accordion player. The group of twelve people came to the store and were instructed on the art of pizza making. Taught the techniques of stretching dough, creating combinations and cooking the pies in the open hearth stone oven, Oakville will reap the benefits through “pleased as pizza pie” word of mouth. Plus, who knows, this could be the beginning of an entire new pizza chain.
And make sure that your vendors know of the goodwill that your certificates, in various proportion, promote. Send them a note informing them that they played a part in the evening, or the gift basket, or the meal. And, don’t forget to send a note to the winner of the auction. Let them know that you value their patronage. Letting your guests them know you enjoyed their company and look forward to having them as valued guest in the future will work wonders for public relations.
Another great certificate idea is to donate a work night in the kitchen. Everyone loves to cook and thinks they know how. And, yes, people will pay to play – restaurant. And nothing beats another set of hands behind the line- or salad station, depending on qualifications.
Or, let the lucky bidder become the host, or bartender for the night. Remember, the key to the donation is to become connected with the organizations that you donate to by turning the donation recipient into a regular customer and a spokesperson for your art.
Donate creatively, and you will reap the benefits of a enjoyable, fun, plan.