How to Incorporate Your Bar into the Community
Community involvement means your bar being a caring and contributing member of your community. Maybe you give money to charity, host charity events at your bar, or donate gift certificates for silent auctions. Being involved in your community makes people feel like you're a member of their world, like you're all in it together, and they're more likely to make yours a regular stop when they're barhopping.
Sponsoring amateur sports teams in your town is a no-brainer for a bar. When you're approached by a coed softball team (and you will be, trust us), say yes if you can swing it financially. You'll reap the benefits by getting your name and logo on the uniforms and, likely, by getting the team and their fans in after their games.
Stay away from sponsoring teams with players under 21 years old. You don't want to be seen corrupting tomorrow's leaders. Most kids' leagues have regulations against it anyway, so this likely won't be a problem.
Here are some other ideas that may be less obvious to the bar newbie but can get your bar's name in the public eye:
Host charity events. A local bar in coauthor Heather's neighborhood sponsors the Red Ribbon Ride to support AIDS research every year. The bar is on the ride's route and hosts the party afterward, too.
Sponsor runners or walkers in charity events.
Give a check to local hospitals and VA hospitals for charity drives.
Help with school or church magazine drives.
Search out food-rescue programs that repurpose restaurant food for homeless shelters.
Sponsor a team at your local chili cook-off, wing-apalooza, or other food competition.
Supply gift cards for silent auctions that support charities you love.
At Christmas, give a bag full of toys and games to Toys for Tots.
Have a fun float for any and all parades in your area (think St. Patrick's Day, Veterans Day, and so on).
You must limit yourself when it comes to community involvement because every nonprofit organization in town will visit you. Prioritize which ones are important to you. Three of the most important for your business are police, fire, and emergency medical technicians (EMTs). You need them.
Keep all records of any donations for tax write-offs. Talk to your accountant to get the complete information on what you can and can't write off.
Also, consider getting involved personally in nonprofit groups that are important to you, whether it's neighborhood revitalization efforts, scholarship programs, Big Brothers/Big Sisters, Habitat for Humanity, or something else. Being a board member or a volunteer exposes you to more people who may be interested in your business and impressed by your generosity. And volunteering — genuinely helping others — definitely makes most people feel good.