Share Our Strength’s Dine Out For No Kid Hungry, one of the nation’s fastest-growing and most successful cause-related restaurant-marketing programs, announces that restaurants across the country and their customers raised nearly $2.4 million last year in the fight against childhood hunger.

National program director Sheila Bennett directly relates the program’s success to the passion of its restaurant participants and patrons around the cause, and the program’s success in delivering strong business results for participating restaurants.

“We had nearly 60 different restaurant brands and more than 300 independents working together to combat hunger, an issue that impacts more than 16 million American children,” Bennett says. “These restaurants raised nearly $1 million more in 2011 than the year before, and I truly believe that’s because the restaurants are seeing real business results. Restaurants reported bounce-back coupon redemption rates of up to 40 percent, and sales increases as high as 11 percent.”

Ted’s Montana Grill is a great example of such increases: The Atlanta-based multi-unit company reported an 8.4 percent increase in total weekly sales compared to the same week of 2010, a 5 percent redemption rate on bounce-back coupons used during the week-long promotion, and tripled the funds raised for Dine Out For No Kid Hungry.

CEO George McKerrow was so pleased with these results that he committed the company to raise $150,000 to support Share Our Strengths’ No Kid Hungry campaign in 2012 through four promotions, including September’s Dine Out For No Kid Hungry.

John Miller, CEO of Denny’s, encouraged the participation of 745 (the largest group of participating units) of the chain’s restaurants behind Dine Out For No Kid Hungry last year. This was no small feat considering Miller had taken the helm just a few months earlier.

Guests who donated $3 or more were offered five $1 coupons to use on their next purchase of $5 or more. To support the effort, Miller personally created and delivered an audio message to employees thanking them for their time, commitment, and inspiration. As a result, Denny’s raised more than $273,665.

Plano-based Raising Cane’s Chicken Fingers tapped into the formidable community of patrons it calls Caniacs (more than 250,000 of them currently “like” the concept on its homepage). Every patron making a $1 donation in-store during the promotion received a coupon for a buy-one/get-one combo meal ($6 value) on a return visit within two weeks of its Dine Out For No Kid Hungry promotion.

Employees in the 77 participating units fully engaged in the fight against child hunger by painting store windows, creating in-store signage, and social media outreach. Raising Cane’s and its loyal patron base delivered more than $58,000 to the No Kid Hungry campaign, nearly quadruple the company’s 2010 contribution.

Independent restaurateurs and local-leverage operators, too, have discovered that Dine Out For No Kid Hungry can be an exceptional tool for employee, community, and patron engagement.

Food Network personality, Chopped! judge and restaurateur Marc Murphy signed on, not only for his restaurants, but as the Dine Out For No Kid Hungry national spokesperson. He operates four restaurants in New York: Landmarc in Tribeca and at the Time Warner Center, and two Ditch Plains locations on the Upper West Side and in the West Village.

Murphy donated the full price of every order of cotton candy ($2 each) from Landmarc and 50 percent of all sales of s’mores in both Ditch Plains locations. Murphy was among the first restaurants to register for the 2012 Dine Out For No Kid Hungry.

Baker’s Restaurant in Elkton, Maryland, is typically closed on Tuesdays, but in 2011, the local legend raised $4,000 by opening the restaurant on Tuesday during Dine Out For No Kid Hungry week and donating 100 percent of all proceeds plus tips.

In Margate, New Jersey, Steve and Cookies by the Bay raised $4,000 by donating 3 percent of their week’s sales and giving co-branded market bags to customers who made an extra donation of $20 or more. 

Last year’s participants also included Corner Bakery Cafe, Joe’s Crab Shack, Bar Louie, P.F. Chang’s, O’Charley’s, McAlister’s Deli, and more all across the country.

The Dine Out For No Kid Hungry program is simple: Restaurants sign up to host promotions of their own design, donate a percentage of sales, or develop other creative fundraising techniques during Dine Out For No Kid Hungry week in September, and consumers dine out at participating locations during that timeframe.

Consumers can find restaurant locations on an interactive map at, and their patronage generates funds for Share Our Strength’s No Kid Hungry campaign to end childhood hunger in America.

Bennett says goals for 2012 are ambitious but absolutely achievable, given the industry’s passion for the cause and support of the program. Dine Out For No Kid Hungry week is slated for September 16-22 this year, and many restaurants plan to run promotions throughout September as part of Share Our Strength’s month-long line-up of No Kid Hungry activities.

To join the movement, operators can visit where they’ll find an Online Resource Center with tools and best practices for creating a successful campaign.

Charitable Giving, News, Corner Bakery Cafe, Denny's, McAlister's Deli, Raising Cane's