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National Restaurant Association - The business case for philanthropy

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The business case for philanthropy

September through early October normally is slowest for sales at Grimaldi’s Pizzeria. That changed last fall when the 34-location company joined Dine Out for No Kid Hungry. The Scottsdale, Ariz.-based chain raised $70,000 for hunger relief in two and a half weeks, and sales rose 12 percent from the previous September.

“From what I saw last week, we’ll easily top that,” says Eric Greenwald, president and chief operating officer.

Dine out for No Kid Hungry, a monthlong campaign to end childhood hunger, officially ends today. Thousands of restaurants are expected to raise $10 million this year.

For each donation (in $5 increments) to No Kid Hungry, Grimaldi’s gives guests a gift card worth the same amount, to redeem on the next visit. Most guests give $5 or $10, and many donate more than once, Greenwald says.

Last year’s Dine Out campaign was the first national fundraiser for Grimaldi’s, so the company decided to participate for just one week.

“We wanted to get it right,” Greenwald says. Managers shared an inspirational No Kid Hungry video to with employees and allowed them to dress in orange. They wore orange No Kid Hungry sunglasses, pins and bracelets. And more.

“Normally, we don’t have flare, but we allowed them to go out the box and do something fun,” Greenwald says. “They came in with orange hats, hair – some of them were really decked out.”

Guests caught the employees’ energy, and the campaign was a hit. “I went over so well, we extended it for the rest of the month.”

The campaign’s success convinced company leaders to participate this year. They conducted a SWAT analysis to figure what they could do better. They decided to get the word out earlier by putting Dine Out collateral in the stores six weeks earlier and emailing the No Kid Hungry video to guests.

Grimaldi’s ordered check presents, table tents and window clings from Share Our Strength to prompt diners to ask servers about the campaign.

“They give you all the tools,” Greenwald says. “They give you the hammer, the saw, the nails and all the know-how. And it doesn’t cost you anything. It’s a no-brainer.

About two or three weeks before the campaign started, employees received a script and training to talk about the Dine Out campaign. And they began wearing orange in late August.

Before the campaign started, Marketing Director Brittany Maroney analyzed results from last year and set goals for each store. And they pushed the campaign on “every means of social” they could. Each week, she posts results. One of the smallest, lowest-volume stores had raised $10,000 by last week, thanks to one server who alone raised $3,000, Greenwald says.


Leaders also beefed up communication from the corporate office to store managers. Greenwald didn’t want results to dip after a strong start. “We remind them every day why we’re doing this,” he says.

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