For Nick Fosberg, it all started when a friend asked if he could hold a benefit for a relative suffering from lung cancer at Fosberg's bar and restaurant, Casey’s Pub in Rockford, Ill.
“I’ll provide the food, and you can charge whatever you want per plate,” Fosberg told him.
For $8 a plate, 125 people showed up to support the event; from there, Fosberg was hooked on helping others.
“For me, doing that, having people thank me and sending thank-you letters, it felt good. They couldn’t believe I was doing it for free, but it was for my friend, and I wanted to help him out,” he says.
Fosberg now throws three or four charitable events a month. Most benefits assist people who need help paying medical bills, but once a month Fosberg and his team hold all-you-can-eat pasta dinners, steak dinners, bag-toss tournaments or guest bartending events to benefit St. Jude Children's Research Hospital; he hopes to raise $10,000 this year. Fosberg supplies all of the food and alcohol-free drinks without charge, but guests pay for beer, wine and cocktails.
Nick Fosberg, owner of Casey's Pub, grills up steaks at one of his many charitable dinners benefitting St. Jude Children's Research Hospital.
By also donating raffle prizes, such as a $500 party package or gift certificates, Fosberg’s efforts go beyond philanthropy. However, these events benefit Fosberg in other ways: They contribute to his growing customer base.
Ultimately, by helping others, Fosberg also is helping Casey’s Pub gain new clientele. With each event, new faces show up, entering the Casey's Pub fray, joining Fosberg’s loyalty program and subsequently becoming regular and loyal customers. In fact, since he started throwing these charitable events, Fosberg’s business has tripled.
“I do it because it’s not about making money that day; it’s about the back end and gaining customers from it. It’s about respect from the community,” he explains.
Although benefit dinners are held on typically slow afternoons or evenings, the whole place usually is packed. For a recent steak dinner benefitting St. Jude Hospital, Fosberg had to cap attendance at 80 people.
With his new Website, rockfordsupport.com, Fosberg is expanding his charitable enterprise, reaching out to even more people in need of a little help, especially families that struggle to pay for medical bills after a tragic accident or unforeseen illness.
Fosberg’s altruism, although enviable, can come at a price; but for him, the "worst-case scenario" is breaking even.
“It’s really worthwhile,” he says. “That’s the problem with a lot of bar owners because they’re scared to give something away. The more you give, the more you get in return."
Bringing in new customers while donating time and resources to a good cause make Fosberg a truly successful business person. By going beyond merely making money, Fosberg has cultivated popular philanthropic promotions that benefit his business, the community and, most of all, people in need.