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What if Denny’s Threw a Cause Marketing Fundraiser and Everyone Showed Up?

Denny’s, the restaurant chain with about 1550 outlets across the country, wants your nonprofit to hold its fundraiser at one of their restaurants. When you book an event there, Denny’s will donate “10% of pre-tax sales generated by your group” back to your cause, church, team, school, club, advocacy group or fraternity/sorority.

This is familiar ground trod by plenty of restaurants, both chains and single-store outlets alike. As I’ve written before, bookstores, office supply chains, even bakeries could do the same promotion.

My question is, why limit the promotion to just causes?

Seriously, is there any reason why Denny’s shouldn’t extend the same deal to any group of, say, a dozen or more people, for-profit or not-for-profit?

That is, when a dozen or more people in your firm meet for a meal at Denny’s, then a donation of 10 percent of pre-tax sales generated by your group goes to a favored cause.

I’m guessing Denny’s has to cut a check for the donation. So what’s the difference between cutting a check and sending it to a cause when the donation was generated by a for-profit group or a by nonprofit group?

Let me be clear. I’m not suggesting that if a 15 construction guys from the same company come in to Denny’s for breakfast that they get a 10 percent discount or kickback. The 10 percent still goes to a charity. The only difference is that the promotion is opened up to other sizable groups.

Denny’s could either have a defined universe of charities it supports or it could cut a check to any 501(c)(3). The former would be easier, but the later isn’t impossible given the number of databases of causes.

Denny’s would certainly want to set some kind of threshold for the number of people in a party. I’m suggesting 12, but Denny’s knows what that number ought to be. Denny’s might ask that the bill be paid on one check or that require that the group give advance notice so they can staff appropriately.

Why would Denny’s entertain such an option?

Well, the regular promotion almost certain is meant to increase the number of people who eat at their stores. By extending the promotion to regular for-profit groups, Denny’s greatly expands the number of people who might participate in the promotion. Likewise, the number of causes that would be benefited would also increase.


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