Cause-Related Marketing Lessons For National Doughnut Day

Doughnut Business Has a Long Charity Tradition That's Good for Business Too

National Donut Day falls on the first Friday of each June, in 2015 on June 5th.

And while this delightful food holiday has been around quite a long time, what's really interesting (aside from the proliferation of cronuts) is the cause-related marketing some heavy hitters in the donut world are trying to their donut mania.

A charitable marketing campaign is a win-win for a food business, the cause, and the customers.

Here we take a look at three sweet businesses with interesting promotions driving foot traffic and raising funds to give back to their communities. There's something in each story for you to take away for your own business.  With a sprinkle on top.

Krispy Kreme Gives Customers Many Ways to Give Back

vintage Krispy Kreme fundraising photo
Krispy Kreme has a long tradition powering fundraisers through their irresistible donuts. Krispy Kreme

Since its beginnings in 1937 — before the chocolate chip cookie was invented — Krispy Kreme has been the source for doughnut fundraisers and charitable giving.

In 2015, Krispy Kreme is hosting a 45-day donation campaign benefiting Victory Junction Camp, a non-profit camp experience for children with chronic medical issues or serious illness.

They’ve partnered with former NASCAR driver Kyle Petty (also the co-founder of Victory Junction Camp) calling the campaign Drive for 45. They offer three different ways for customers to donate:

  1. Customers can tack on an extra $1, $2, $5, or even $45 donation to their doughnut purchase at check-out.

  2. Customers can round their doughnut order total to the nearest dollar and donate the rounding change to the camp.

  3. People can skip the sugar stuff and drop cash in a “Tire Bank” at participating locations.

Takeaways for Small Food Businesses

This is a more traditional campaign, raising funds for donations that go directly to support an organization for a specified amount of time. Encouraging customers to donate at check-out is a quick way to get customers involved. In particular, the “Round-Up” is an attractive option in its seamlessness and relative ease.

Krispy Kreme also hosts the Cops on Doughnut Shops fundraiser. This campaign is near perfect.

First of all, it’s funny. It capitalizes on a harmless stereotype in a positive way.

Secondly, the benefactors collect the funds themselves; the cops solicit and collect donations to support the Law Enforcement Torch Run and increase awareness of the Special Olympics movement.

The takeaway: Humor is always a good avenue to garner publicity and awareness for a cause.

Voo Doo Doughnut Keeps It Local with Art and the Environment

Voodoo Doughnuts
No magical explanation needed for why Voodoo Donut has a cult following. Voodoo Doughnut

Supporting local causes and charitable events is built into the Voo Doo Doughnut mission. They regularly support their community by donating doughnuts, their time, and even cold hard cash.

In 2012, the owners of Voo Doo Doughnut delivered a $10,000 check to the University of Oregon’s Knight Library to help them finalize a purchase of important artwork to add to their permanent collection. In addition, they featured dozens of themed doughnuts for the event.

In January, Voo Doo Doughnut created a “Mount Hood” doughnut in the likeness of Oregon’s signature peak. A portion of sales from all of the doughnuts was given to Bark, an Oregonian grassroots organization working to preserve forests and wildlife around Mount Hood. The doughnut was available for a limited time at all Voo Doo Doughnut locations.

Takeaways for Small Food Businesses

Adapt this model by identifying a local institution that could use assistance in making a beneficial purchase, like a farm in need of a tractor.

Without a big marketing investment, food entrepreneurs and chefs can put your creative and culinary skills to work by promoting a themed dish or food product.

Dunkin’ Donuts Community Foundation is All About Giving

Heart shaped Dunkin' Donuts
A reason to love the goodness of donuts all the more. Dunkin' Donuts

Go big or go home — take a page out of the Dunkin’ Donuts and Baskin-Robbins playbook by setting up a foundation that directly benefits your community. The Dunkin’ Donuts & Baskin-Robbins Community Foundation (DDBRCF) has an entire grant funding component that awards funds to support hunger relief, children’s health, and safety initiatives nationally and locally.

The foundation goes beyond in-store fundraising and encourages its franchisees, employees, customers, and even vendors to get involved.

Since its founding, The DDBRCF has awarded $8 million in grants to local charities. In 2014, The DDBRCF announced its largest gift to date: a $1 million, three-year grant to Feeding America that supports Feeding America initiatives nationwide, including the BackPack Program and the School Pantry Program.

Takeaways for Small Food Businesses

Don’t be discouraged by these big numbers.

Small businesses can make a big difference with a little creativity and elbow grease — and when you involve your community and fanbase in giving based on your example.

Do Not Pass a Donut Shop on National Donut Day Without Stopping

National food holidays by themselves are a fun way to build excitement around a product category with lots of great opportunities for creative promotions. Adding in an element of charitable giving makes these holidays all the more good for everyone. No matter how cheesy these national food days may strike you, try launching a campaign that rewards and engages your fans.