People expect businesses to make money, of course. But today, people also expect businesses to give back.
We recently spoke with Michelle McCarthy of Round it Up America, a technology platform designed to allow for-profit businesses to operate charitable giving programs in a financially and legally responsible way.
Round it Up was created by Harald Herrmann and Jennifer Weerheim, restaurant industry veterans who were moved to give back after hearing about the lack of food bank supplies during the economic downturn in 2009.
The program allows restaurant customers to “round up” their bill and send a small donation to charity. Round it Up integrates seamlessly with POS systems by adding a line to every credit card bill. They partner with restaurants, hotels, resorts and other businesses and ensure that at least 91% of all contributions go to the groups in need. (The remaining percentage covers administrative and operations costs.)
Round it Up provides a can’t-miss opportunity for enhancing your brand’s charitable reach with technology by meeting consumer and employee expectations for corporate responsibility.
Consumers – especially millennials, who now number 80 million and make up 25% of the population – are increasingly interested in what businesses are doing with their money.
These last two points are especially important to the younger demographic. The “Instagram-ification” of society has created a desire for instant impact, leading brands to search for easy ways to get customers involved.
Giving back can also improve your bottom line. According to recent studies, 4 out of 5 millennials say that they are more likely to support a company that supports a cause that they care about. Since restaurants can choose which charities they donate to, each business can support a cause that appeals to their customer base.
“When Hurricane Sandy happened, all of our mission partners were able to say to their team members and their guests, ‘We’re already supporting this effort. We support it everyday,’” McCarthy says. “It’s a great opportunity for corporations to participate on a national level or a local level.”
In addition to the benefits above, charitable giving can create additional marketing and branding opportunities, give your business a larger purpose and engage your employees in a greater cause. Charity can also be used as a recruiting tool for prospective employees interested in working for responsible companies.
The average Round it Up donation is around 56 cents, but one case study showed that Round it Up raised more than $160,000 through 18 Lucille’s Smokehouse BBQ and Hof’s Hut restaurants over a three-year period.
Round it Up’s first partner was about to raise about $390,000 in just one year, averaging $40 per day in guest contributions from 27 locations. The same restaurant chain has raised more than $1.4 million to date.
Round it Up also manages the legal and tax-related considerations involved with giving money to charity, which many restaurateurs are not aware of and probably don’t have time for. The program is licensed to fundraise in every state and county, and manages the collection of funds and distribution to the charities for the mission partners.
Enhancing your brand’s charitable reach with technology allows your customers and employees to join in with a cause and be part of a bigger picture, even though they don’t feel like they have the time to go out and actively contribute.
Round it Up estimates that if one percent of restaurants in the U.S. participate in this program, they could raise $90 million for charity every year. As any server can tell you, that little line on your receipt can go a long way toward making change.