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National Restaurant Association - Giving back: Finding charitable opportunities for your restaurant

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Giving back: Finding charitable opportunities for your restaurant

The first step is to decide which charitable activity fits with your restaurant. There are many charities worthy of your time and commitment, but you should pick an organization (or more!) that feels right. Here are some options to consider:

  • Look for existing community events that you can support. Many communities hold "Taste of" events for which the local restaurant association, Chamber of Commerce or non-profits organize to provide a fun-filled day of food and entertainment to benefit a particular cause or charity.
  • Ask your customers for inspiration. For example, you might hear about a local charity that they regularly support. Your customers can act as a link between you and the community, and they feel that businesses have a responsibility to give back.
    Of restaurant operators that make charitable contributions, 98%25 support local and national charities, while 4 percent support international organizations
  • Identify a meaningful cause. The most successful community programs and partnerships are ones that have special meaning to you and/or your employees.
  • Watch the news, and read local newspapers. Restaurants often donate food to emergency-aid workers and community residents after a disaster. You can also find out about community festivals and other events where your restaurant could provide food.
  • Donate part of your sales to hunger-relief programs or find a benefit in your area. Supporting anti-hunger initiatives and programs that address food waste are logical fits for the restaurant industry. Currently, nearly one in five children in America lives in households that struggle to put food on the table. To get involved in this nationwide effort to end childhood hunger, go to Share Our Strength to find a fundraiser in your area.
  • Donate surplus food to a food bank. If you don't have leftovers, consider this a special service. Use your buying power to purchase large quantities of food at wholesale prices and/or cook extra food to donate. For more information about food banks in your area and especially non-perishable foods, check out Feeding America. Food Donation Connection also can find local charities that accept prepared, perishable food and can help you realize the tax benefits for making donations.
    Orlando’s Darden Restaurants, which operates Olive Garden, LongHorn Steakhouse, The Capital Grille, Eddie V’s, Bahama Breeze and Seasons 52, is an FDC partner. In FY2013, the Darden Harvest Program donated 10.9 million pounds of food and has donated more than 67 million pounds of food since the Program's inception.
  • Designate a percentage of sales day. Many companies select a day (typically a Monday or Tuesday when restaurants tend to be a little slower) to donate a percentage of sales to a given charity. You could poll your customers to find which charities they support and ensure your selection resonates with them.
  • Work with your local schools. You could sponsor a local school and provide students with special luncheons and prizes in exchange for reaching attendance and coursework goals. Valentinos and Red Robin are great examples of local school engagement. You could also provide apprenticeship opportunities to interested students.
  • Host a holiday celebration for people at risk of hunger or others in need.

Learn more about how you can leverage your community involvement as a recruiting and retention tool.

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