Burger chain, Grill’d, has been giving back for 10 years. They share their strategy and how charities can benefit from their fundraising.

In June 2021,  Grill’d, celebrated 10 years of its community giving program, Local Matters, with a month of support for homelessness projects.

Local Matters began in 2011 as a way for Grill’d to give back to the communities that support the burger chain. Since then the program has raised more than $6 million supporting over 30,000 community groups, organisations and projects.

“Our Local Matters program usually supports hyper-local community groups, but a few times a year we take the program national and support overarching causes that we, as a business, are passionate about as a way to draw attention to a bigger cause,’ says CEO, Adam Stapleton.

Previous national ‘takeovers’ have supported mental health and sustainability. This year, Grill’d decided to focus on homelessness for the month of June.

“We usually take what we’ve got for granted. Most of us have a warm place to sleep, regular meals, and a roof over our heads. But for some, this isn’t the case. Collectively, as an organisation, we know the issue of homelessness needs help in a big way,” says Adam.

Grill’d selected Australian Red Cross, Vinnies and The Salvation Army as partner charities for the campaign.

“When we do national takeovers, it’s to help build awareness for specific causes as well as donations, so we look for a charity that is keen to help us build that awareness and is also willing to work in partnership with other amazing charities,” says Adam.

“All three charities are doing big things on the front line to tackle homelessness and help disadvantaged Australians when they need it most, so it was an easy decision to form a partnership with them. We have also worked closely with Vinnies and The Salvation Army for our ‘feed those in need’ dinners in recent months,” says Adam. Vinnies also receives support via the organisation’s Relish initiative… more on that below.

So how do Grill’d corporate social responsibility (CSR) programs work and how do the partners benefit?

Local Matters

Become one of three charities monthly to feature on the recognisable in-store token jars and you will receive a donation from Grill’d at month-end.

Every customer receives a token with their food order and they are encouraged to place it in the jar that represents the nonprofit they think deserves the most funding – not only does this encourage generosity, it also raises awareness of the three chosen organisations.

In a standard campaign month, the charities represented are local to each restaurant. That outlet will make a $500 donation, splitting it between $300 for the charity with the most tokens and $100 each for the two runners up. The Grill’d group now has over 150 restaurants, which means $75,000+ in donations each month.

When it comes to national takeovers – such as the recent homelessness month – the concept is the same, but the donation is larger. As all restaurants across the country are fundraising for the same three charities, the donation pool allocated to the three national nonprofits is $75,000 rather than $500.

What does each charity partner get from Local Matters?

Grill’d promotes the charity’s name, information about their work, and their website URL on their in-store jar tags, eDMs, online promotions and Grill’d takeout order platform. At a minimum, participating charities get a guaranteed donation, but restaurant teams also go above and beyond with additional fundraising and volunteering. Grill’d want their staff to build meaningful relationships with members of their local community.

Once a fundraiser is complete, (opted-in) customers are contacted by email with the voting results.

How can your nonprofit get involved? 

It’s quick and easy – fill out an application for the Local Matters program here and this will go to your closest Grill’d outlet for consideration.

Grill’d restaurants can also host fundraising dinners for nonprofits. Tickets are $25, which is split $15 for a meal and $10 as a donation. This is extra impactful if a nonprofit times a dinner to coincide with the month they are a Local Matters beneficiary – what better way to get more tokens in their jar! You can get in touch with your local Grill’d to find out more about the dinners.

Relish

Relish is Grill’d’s ‘Membership with Heart’ program, where members can give back to those doing it tough in their local communities. The program includes the group’s ‘8 and Donate’ mechanism – after every eighth visit, a member can choose to take or donate a free burger. If they decide to donate (which many do) Grill’d donates the cost of a burger to Vinnies on the member’s behalf (during National Homelessness Week (1-7 August), Relish members will be able to donate two meals). Members also receive other freebies along the journey, such as free chips and a free drink that they can redeem for themselves or pay forward to a friend or family member. Since the launch of Relish in 2019, Grill’d has donated a total of 43,923 meals to Vinnies.

In addition to Local Matters and Relish, Grill’s runs a national program – the aforementioned ‘feed those in need’ initiative – whereby five restaurants are closed for an evening each month to provide meals to people experiencing disadvantage. On 2 August, five CBD locations will close to feed those experiencing homelessness. The restaurant closure initiative began in March and has provided 2,488 meals across multiple states.

What’s next

“For our next takeover we’re hoping to get behind our Australian summer heroes. Stay tuned!” says Adam.

In a world where crusading consumers are on the rise, it’s vital that businesses give back to the communities in which they are doing business. Grill’d have certainly paved the way in this regard, with their CSR programs dating back much further than the deep ethical reflection inspired by the pandemic.

Customers enjoy placing vote tokens – a mechanism that enables them to give back with ease. On the inside, benefits of the company’s active CSR approach include boosted employee morale and pride, and the encouragement of teamwork and giving beyond the workplace. In fact, Adam reports that a large number of employees state the reason they joined or enjoy working at Grill’d is due to the Local Matters program. And of course, thousands of charities across the country are supported by the restaurant’s programs. It’s win-win-win.

To find out more about the Grill’d Local Matters and Relish programs, click here and here

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