CauseTalk Radio Ep65: Dineout for No Kid Hungry Aims to Raise $10 Million

On today's episode of CauseTalk Radio, Megan and I talk to Laura Goodman, Senior Director of Corporate Partnerships for Share Our Strength, about Dineout for No Kid Hungry. This September campaign will involve thousands of restaurants of all types and sizes and has a goal of $10 million. 

Laura shares the many other parts of this campaign, including Go Orange for No Kid Hungry. We also discuss a summer success story: Share Our Strength's partnership with America's burger stand Shake Shack.

The cause marketers at Share Our Strength are the type of professionals Megan and I look up to. Laura and her team are the kings of cause! Tune in now!

CauseTalk Radio Ep45: Share Our Strength Flexes Cause Marketing Muscle to Help Hungry Kids

Ever since reading Bill Shore's book Revolution of the Heart back in 1996, I've been a big fan of Share Our Strength, the Washington D.C. based anti-hunger organization. That's why it was such a great pleasure for Megan and I to speak to Chuck Scofield, Chief Development Officer of Share Our Strength, on today's episode of CauseTalk Radio.

Chuck has worked at the organization for almost as long as I've been a fan - 14 years!

Chuck takes us through the history of Share Our Strength and discusses its signature campaign, No Kid Hungry, and its ambitious mission to end childhood hunger by 2015.

Chuck also shares the background story on the nonprofit's successful cause marketing program that has it working with some of the biggest names in business: ConAgra Foods, Arby's, The Food Network, American Express and many others.

Share Our Strength is a great organization to learn from. They are mission driven, innovative and savvy cause marketers who know how to engage businesses in partnerships that are truly win-win.

Listen and learn. Tune in now!

Better Business Fundraisers with Incentives

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If Share Our Strength's recent pinup program with Shake Shack is proof of anything it's that incentives work in business fundraisers. Thanks in large to part to Shake Shack's generous offer to reward a $2 donation with one of their signatures shakes, valued at $5, the chain raised $135,000 to fight childhood hunger. The amount is impressive considering Shake Shack ran the fundraiser at just ten locations. One store in New York City raised $28,000 - $3,000 more than the original goal for the entire chain.

While I haven't experimented with shakes, I have offered coupons at the register and they worked well with shoppers. Another place I'm convinced where incentives work is with the person behind the register. Bryan Harding, Director of Cause Marketing at The Nature Conservancy, has also seen the power of employee incentives. In an email to me, he wrote: 

I can tell you with absolute certainty training and incentivizing employees for a round-up at the register or pin-ups makes a dramatic difference. Prior to The Nature Conservancy, I ran the cause marketing program at PetSmart Charities and the advertising/cause program at the American Heart Association National Center. At PetSmart, we had an in-store giving program with an at register pin pad – it raised almost $30 million per year. We did test on with and without training and with and without incentives for employees across a network of over 1,000 stores – it worked much better when employees were trained and had incentives.

I've experimented with employee incentives for years and this is what I've learned.

Unmotivated employees stay unmotivated. Even with incentives unmotivated employees won’t push the program. Indeed, their lack of motivation seemed to extend to just about every part of their lives!

Motivated employees don’t need incentives. These employees support the program because they want to. They’re more motivated and disciplined and listen to their hearts, and their manager. However....

Motivated employees can be marginally motivated with incentives. Incentives can give motivated employees an extra boost to push the program. But you don’t need to give them much. A $5 gift card to Starbucks or Dunkin' Donuts can do the trick. So does a pizza party for the winning store at the end of the program.

You should also know three more things about incentives:

You don’t need to pay for incentives. Getting incentives donated by various companies is easier than you think. You'll me amazed what you can get when you just ask for it. 

If this is your first program with a business, wait to offer incentives. See what happens. If the program does well, add the incentives to the next program to build on your success.

Sometimes the best incentive for store employees is an easy-to-execute program. Cashiers have enough to do at the register and are already asking customers if they need batteries, want to apply for a credit card, and so on. The last thing they need is a complicated program to push.

Shake Shack made it easy for customers to give. Make sure your program makes it easy for employees to ask.

Share Our Strength, Shake Shack Team Up for Pinup Program

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If I'm The Pinup King, this program between Share Our Strength and Shake Shack is fit for one!

The two have teamed up for a cause marketing pinup program called the Great American Shake Sale at ten Shake Shack locations on the East coast. This modern roadside burger stand is committed to raising at least $25,000.

I love the pinup SOS and Shake Shack created for this program. (If you are unfamiliar with pinups, read this post.)

  • It's a simple, attractive design
  • It sells for just $2
  • All the money raised goes to SOS's No Kid Hungry
  • It's a good example of a nonprofit targeting a mid-size company (where there's more opportunity for the average nonprofit than with the big companies well known charity's target)
  • The best part: you donate $2 and you get a free shake worth $5

People give a buck or two because they want to and don't need a shake to motivate them. But it sure does make a great thank you!

Share Our Strength is a national charity, but there's no reason your local nonprofit can't identify a company and run a successful pinup program. You could raise $25,000 like SOS will, or even more (Muscular Dystrophy and Lowe's Home improvement raised $7.6 million earlier this year).

Thanks to my Friend Emily Kokernak in New York City for discovering and sharing this program with me!

"I went in to buy a shake, and of course for $2 I did it - the shake alone is $5 there!", said Emily. "It's a GREAT deal! Free shake - without having to buy anything. And - the people working there were really nice and tried to sell it - explaining the cause, etc. They had banners strung across the ceiling and it was really tasteful in keeping with their clean decor."

Thanks, Emily. That's what good cause marketing is all about!

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Who's Behind Arby's $2M Gift to 'No Hungry Kid,' Santa or The Grinch?

The Arby's Foundation, the giving arm of Arby's Restaurant Group, the second largest sandwich shop chain in the United States, did something last week that rivals the good deeds of Santa Claus himself. It gave Share Our Strength's (SOS) No Kid Hungry campaign $2 million dolllars.

Arby's customers kicked in most of it. $1.7 million to be exact. The Arby's Foundation rounded it up to $2 million with a $300,000 gift.

Arby's campaign for SOS was impressive - and not just because it doubled its initial pledge of one million dollars.

In addition to the national fundraiser in-store and online, Arby’s hosted a Foursquare challenge, donating $1 for every “check-in” at its restaurants nationwide. On Facebook and Twitter, Arby’s provided a meter allowing fans to monitor their fundraising success. Arby’s employees chipped in as well, participating in a series of events, including Bag Hunger Day to champion the cause.

A model campaign for sure. Successful, lucrative, lots of involvement for stakeholders, a digital component. I love it.

But there's a nagging question for me. Should Share Our Strength, a national leader in anti-hunger programs, have a partnerhip with a fast food chain that sells mostly anti-nutritional foods that should be served to families with a side of Lipitor?

Is this cause marketing program really The Grinch dressed up like Santa?

Don't get me wrong. I want to like this campaign.

  • Unlike the dreaded Buckets for the Cure in 2010and, this past year, KFC's crazy soda promotion for JDRF, this cause marketing promotion wasn't connected to any menu items. Not having to buy a bucket of greasy, fattening chicken to make a donation makes this program a little more tolerable. But we can say with certainty that most of Arby's guests aren't donating when they're ordering salads and water.
  • Unlike Buckets, this campaign wasn't heavily promoted. I only first heard of it last week, probably because I don't eat at  Arby's. Buckets had more paid advertising, including this TV ad. KFC used the Buckets campaign to attract new customers. Arby's campaign is for existing customers. I've made this point before about a White Castle cause marketing promotion created specifically for fans of the chain.
  • Arby's has made improvements to its menu, especially to its kids menu. One thing I hated about Buckets was that KFC/Komen seemed to be thumbing its nose at people by serving some of their worst foods in pink buckets that supported a health cause. Not to mention KFC launched the heart-stopping Double Down alongside Buckets. Kudos to Arby's for a showing a semblance of sincerity.

There's another reason I like this campaign: I'm an unabashed fan of SOS and its founder Billy Shore. Shore's first book, Revolution of the Heart, had a big influence on me and sits right beside Emerson, Seneca, Lincoln and Thoreau (okay, and my biography on P. T. Barnum) on my bookshelf.

I even included SOS'a cause marketing - some of the best in the industry - in my own book, Cause Marketing for Dummies.

SOS is nothing if not consistent. They've accepted money and product from ConAgra and Tyson, two other food companies often criticized for their health and environmental issues.

Of course, it's hard to be a big company and NOT be a lightening rod for controversy (e.g. Walmart, Starbucks, McDonald's, Nike). It begs the question: if a nonprofit didn't accept money from companies with questionable practices, would there be any companies left to work with? The same could be said of gifts from individuals.

SOS has made its choice and makes no apologies.

It funds Cooking Matters, a program that shows families how to prepare healthy meals, with money from ConAgra.

SOS is also set on growing its partnerships with the fast food industry. It's currently recruiting for a Senior Manager of Restaurant Partnerships to "Build Share Our Strength's restaurant multi-unit partnerships through extensive business development and creative and entrepreneurial approaches, leading to growth of revenue sources for the organization for the child hunger strategy."

When SOS says "multi-unit partnerships" and sets a $3 million goal, it's not talking about working with vegan restaurants.

Despite some reservations, I give the SOS/Arby's cause marketing promotion a passing grade. It's like the fertilizer I add to my gardens in the spring. I hold my nose, but it serves the greater good. I'm hopeful that SOS's long term involvement with Arby's will produce more good things in the chain's menu. I sleep better at night knowing that SOS and Billy Shore are in the world.

What do you think? Should gifts from fast food restaurant chains such as Arby's be marked "return to sender"?