Even though restaurateurs and their customers felt the pressure to save more and spend less this past year, both groups maintained their appetites for giving money and donating time to charitable causes. Philanthropic activity in the restaurant industry included the following fundraisers and events.
• IHOP had its most successful National Pancake Day yet in February, giving away more than 2.5 million pancakes and raising more than $1.3 million for Children’s Miracle Network. Since its 2006 inception, National Pancake Day has raised more than $3.25 million for charity, and IHOP earned a 2009 Gold Halo Award from the Cause Marketing Forum for its efforts.
• Tim Hortons donated 100 percent of coffee sales from June 3 to its Tim Horton Children’s Foundation, paying for 14,000 children from disadvantaged homes to attend one of six summer camps in Canada and the United States.
• Hooters continued to lead efforts in fundraising for breast cancer research. Franchisee Hooters Management Inc., which operates units in Chicago, New York and Tampa, Fla., donated $500,000 to the Moffitt Cancer Center Foundation in Tampa. Franchisor Hooters of America Inc. also gave $250,000 to the V Foundation for Cancer Research, bringing the total donation to $1 million for the Kelly Jo Dowd Breast Cancer Research Grant, named after a former Hooters girl who succumbed to breast cancer.
• The V Foundation benefited from several industry fundraisers, including one from The Apple Gold Group, a North Carolina-based Applebee’s franchisee. The company’s 50 restaurants in North Carolina netted a $120,000 donation from its “Show Your Spirit” campaign, which marked a dramatic increase from the prior-year donation of $75,000.
• Culver’s nearly 400 restaurants in 17 states raised more than $210,000 for dozens of local charities during its “Day of Giving” event, in which it collected money in special canisters and donated 10 percent of daily sales.
• Jack in the Box once again hosted a charity golf tournament to benefit Big Brothers Big Sisters, its primary nonprofit partner since 1998. The event drew more than 350 Jack in the Box franchisees, employees and vendors, and it took in more than $300,000 for the organization, which partners at-risk children with mentors.
• Carino’s Italian Restaurants also teed up its annual golf tournament, netting more than $225,000 for several different nonprofit groups, including Mar-bridge Foundation, Kenny Can Foundation, Limbs for Life, Parent Project Muscular Dystrophy, Dell Children’s Hospital, Star of Texas Rodeo and Youthworks. Since 1997 the Carino’s Foundation has donated more than $2.4 million to charity.
• Continuing its fourth year of fundraising for pediatric-cancer charity Alex’s Lemonade Stand, Rita’s Franchising Corp., parent to Rita’s Water Ice, raised $451,000 in four weeks through the sale of $1 paper lemons. Rita’s has raised more than $2 million to date for Alex’s Lemonade Stand.