Round It Up America helps Cameron Mitchell Restaurants give backPhilanthropic Pursuit — By Ryan Kovalaske on April 2, 2013 at 8:00 am
Cap City Diner, Marcella’s, and Rusty Bucket Restaurant and Tavern have made supporting your local community as easy as tipping your server.
Per the Round It Up America program, patrons at those sister restaurants can round up their purchases upon the close of credit card sales. So the next time you’re enjoying meatloaf at Cap City Diner, a meatball at Marcella’s, or fish and chips at Rusty Bucket, take the opportunity to give back to local nonprofits.
“We were presented the opportunity of the program through the Ohio Restaurant Association, and felt it was the perfect fit culturally for us,” says Gary Callicoat, founder and president of Rusty Bucket. “One of our company philosophies is to give back to the communities in which we do business, and the fact that 80 percent of the money donated is given back directly to the community organizations was the important part for us. In addition, it supports the National and State Restaurant Association Education Foundations.”
RIUA is a nonprofit organization offering a simple, yet powerful charitable giving program to make change across America. The program allows customers to directly support a restaurant’s philanthropic efforts and helps the restaurant increase its giving. Restaurants select the nonprofits they wish to support on an annual basis.
“While the individual donations may be nominal, their collective sum is powerful and impacts community charities directly,” Callicoat says.
Rusty Bucket was the first restaurant in Ohio to offer RIUA. Marketing and additional materials were provided by RIUA to help launch the program in September 2011.
During its inaugural year, Rusty Bucket supported the Capital Area Humane Society, Operation Homefront of Ohio, and Community Kitchen. During those 12 months, guests at Rusty Bucket locations donated a total of $29,000.
“We make this a choice for our guests, but do not solicit our guests,” says Kate Sumption, marketing manager for Rusty Bucket. “Our associates are all trained and educated on the program and the local organization the donations will benefit.”
During RIUA’s implementation, Rusty Bucket kept its parent company, Cameron Mitchell Restaurants, up to date on the program’s progress, which allowed the organization to learn from the challenges and successes Rusty Bucket experienced.
Currently, it is only available at the two Cap City Diner locations, the two Marcella’s locations, and Molly Woo’s Asian Bistro. Right now, Cameron Mitchell Restaurants is supporting Local Matters and Children’s Hunger Alliance because both organizations are focused on food and children, which aligns with CMR’s line of business and charitable giving goals.
“It was exciting to realize how so many acts by our guests of simply rounding up their check by a small amount would add up to thousands of dollars to benefit charities in their own communities,” says Stacey Connaughton, vice president of corporate affairs at CMR. “The participating stores currently receive guest contributions of approximately $2,500 per month. I think the simplicity of the program and the appeal of giving locally makes it particularly successful.”
Rusty Bucket chooses new charities to support each year by focusing on four categories: food banks and soup kitchens, children and education, animal welfare, and military families. Employees at all locations are encouraged to submit recommendation within those categories. An operations team makes the final selection.
Rusty Bucket is currently supporting Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Ohio, Veterans First Foundation Inc., and Franklin County Animal Shelter.
“Be passionate about the local organizations that you choose to support and be sure that it fits within your company culture so there is a connection between the two,” he says. “We believe in the importance of giving back to the communities that support us, and it is very important to me to give back to the industry that has given me so much.”