Charity calls on restaurants to support local areas, build loyalty

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"Restaurants and cafes are embedded in their local communities."
"Restaurants and cafes are embedded in their local communities."

For the six weeks in the lead-up to Christmas, charity organisation against homelessness, StreetSmart, partners with restaurants to ask diners to make a small donation of $2 or more on their bill.

The initiative, called DineSmart, is a simple idea that adds up to a big impact on the lives of people who are homeless, as well as helping restaurants build and maintain local guest loyalty, says Founder and CEO of StreetSmart Australia, Adam Robinson.

"Increasingly consumers are directing their support to businesses they admire and see as reflecting their own beliefs and interests," explains Robinson.

Since 2003 the organisation has raised over $3.03 million to support 845 projects.

Conscious consumers

"The age of the conscious consumer is here, especially with the 20-40 year old demographic. When restaurants are involved in DineSmart they report positive feedback from customers who see their involvement in community campaigns as admirable.

"It's a way to connect with customers and potential customers on another level beyond food and beverages. StreetSmart works hard with our media partners to direct our supporters and the wider public to make a choice during those six weeks to 'Dine Out Help Out'. Restaurants report bookings from people saying they are there because of their participation. We want the campaign to be a win-win," Robinson says.

"StreetSmart is also looking to work with suppliers to the hospitality sector who may want to be involved –  possibly sponsor the event and partner with restaurants to make a local impact."

Local flavour

All funds raised between 10 November and 31 December stay in each restaurant's local area – further strengthening the link between hospitality businesses and their communities.

"Restaurants and cafes are embedded in their local communities, they are at street level and they can often be the neighbours of smaller services who struggle to fundraise due to lack of resources," Robinson says.

"Our aim is to help build stronger more connected communities and the businesses we work with 'get this' and like to see their support stay in their communities. Most areas have services which need support, but often we don't know they are there. Women's refuges, youth refuges, neighbourhood centres, legal services, drop in centres, they are all around us, in our suburbs, our regions, our country towns, and they need our support."

Get involved

Robinson's message to restaurant owners considering participation is a simple one: "Jump on board. For over ten years we have worked with leading restaurateurs and café owners across Australia and the testimonials speak for themselves.

"People find by getting involved it's about the bigger picture, it's about community, it's about the pleasure of helping others, but it's also about the business defining who they are and what they believe in."

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