Save a Child: Eat a Pancake

pancakes 300x236 Save a Child:  Eat a PancakeThanks to the creative geniuses at IHOP, Americans have the annual opportunity to celebrate “National Pancake Day.”  According to the company, more than $10 million has been contributed to local charities (since 2006) thanks to this flap-tast-ic idea.  This February 5, 2013, IHOP is once again rolling out its stack of pancakes to benefit the Children’s Miracle Network Hospital or other local charities.  Should you flip for this flapjack?

At its core, “National Pancake Day” is a cause-related marketing promotion.  Through cause-related marketing promotions, businesses and nonprofits partner to raise money for a particular cause.  The business profits by selling more products and enjoying the “halo” effect of being associated with a respected nonprofit or cause.   The nonprofit benefits through increased financial contributions and through a higher public profile as a result of its partner’s marketing efforts.

When evaluating any cause-related marketing promotion, BBB recommends these quick tips.

  • First, ask yourself if the promotion makes it clear which charity is benefited by the promotion.  At the end of the day, you want to make sure you’re buying a product you want and supporting a trustworthy charity.
  • Next, verify what percent of the purchase price benefits the charity.  Keep your smart-consumer-hat squarely atop your head to avoid being lured to more expensive products and offers that only minimally benefit a charity.
  • Third, double-check whether there’s a minimum or maximum contribution amount the company will make to the charity.  Despite the appearance of purely altruistic intentions, a company is unlikely to go above its maximum contribution amount … no matter how many products you buy.
  • Finally, verify whether the cause-marketing campaign is ongoing.  Companies may specially brand their packages during campaigns but fail to remove them from the store shelves after the campaign ends.


Bottom Line:  IHOP discloses its promotion lasts one day only (February 5).  In exchange for one free small-stack of pancakes, guests are encouraged to leave a donation (any amount) to benefit the Children’s Miracle Network Hospital and other local charities.  However, IHOP does not disclose on their website what portion of your contribution will be directed to the charities or what happens to donations in excess of the $3 million goal.  So, we say, flip for this one if you’re in the mood for flapjacks, but ask your server for the missing details and how to make your donation. And don’t forget to tip your server!   

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About Erika Lehman

I started at BBB|Cincinnati in 2004 as a Co-Op in the Charity Department. Today I am the Director of The Center for Ethics at BBB.