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Sam Adams and the $2.1M Restaurant Strong Fund Donation: A Give Story

What started out of love for their home state of Massachusetts ended up inspiring a nationwide movement: Restaurant Strong.
Sam Adams and Greg Hill Restaurant Strong GiveWP Story Featured Image

The Restaurant Strong Fund provides full time restaurant employees from 20 states with a $1000 grant per person. It started out with a hefty $2,100,000 donation from Samuel Adams, a brewing company located in Boston, Massachusetts, US.

For the restaurant industry, we’re one of the only organizations who can give out grants directly to individuals. I would rather see it come through the Restaurant Strong Fund than have a million GoFundMe’s out there for all these other causes that you don’t really know where the money is going.

Adam Benoit, Vice President of FMP Productions

These New England organizations are hoping to assist the 50,000+ applicants across 20 states who need immediate financial aid. The applications continue to come in everyday. The goal is to help as many people as possible get through restaurant closures while the world encounters highly unusual circumstances.

What’s Inside This Give Story?

  1. Why and How Restaurant Strong Helps Out-of-Work, Full-Time Restaurant Employees
  2. How Restaurant Strong Grant Recipients are Chosen
  3. The Story Behind the Samuel Adams Restaurant Strong Fund $2.1 Million Donation
  4. Why Restaurant Strong is Only Going to Get Stronger as the Pandemic Gets Longer
  5. How the Restaurant Strong Fund is Powered with GiveWP on WordPress
  6. What’s Your Give Story?

Why and How Restaurant Strong Fund Helps Out-of-Work, Full-Time Restaurant Employees

Of the millions of people who registered for unemployment over the past weeks in the United States, those in tipped industries may have experienced some of the most extreme losses in income overall. Their wages are much more volatile on a regular basis than non-tipped employees.

The Restaurant Strong Fund helps anyone who worked over 30 hours a week in a restaurant, no longer does due to the pandemic, and is in extreme need of financial assistance right now.

Tipped Employees Make Less Hourly

The organizers of Restaurant Strong recognized a clear problem and opportunity to help. The problem is that tipped employees make less “on paper” and often are given less money through unemployment benefits. This results in a larger overall decrease in their income for those who work full-time in places like restaurants. People who make cash tips may depend on them.

Whether or not tipped employees report all their tips as earnings is another discussion for another day. Right now, everyone needs the help of their communities. And restaurant workers particularly may be feeling the financial burden of economic hardships.

Note for Readers Outside of the US: In many states, the requirements for minimum wage are lower for employees who receive tips because tips are another form of income through the same work. In Massachusetts, the minimum wage limit for tipped employees is $4.95. Many states keep theirs as low as the federal minimum of $2.13, some with fewer restrictions than others.
US Department of Labor

How Restaurant Strong Grant Recipients Are Chosen

Throughout the week at the Restaurant Strong Fund, a committee reviews thousands of applications. This committee was formed with 20 former restaurant employees who also lost their wages due to the Coronavirus Pandemic. Now they’re all employed through the fund. Who knows better which applicants deserve to be granted $1000 than those who were in their shoes?

Every Friday, accepted applicants receive an email and checks are mailed. Once the people awarded grants get their checks, they can use it immediately.

Those with more extreme needs are given first priority based on a 1-5 ranking system (1 being the lowest need, 5 the highest or most urgent). The goal is to give funds first to those who would be in “dire straits” without it. Those who rank higher (5) receive funds sooner.

The immediacy is really what is important for the foundation. We want to get money in people’s hands with no red tape. They can use it for whatever they need and we just want to be able to help and support.

– Benoit

The Restaurant Strong Fund has received over 50,000 grant applications so far and submissions continue to pour in every day. Restaurant Strong plans to continue taking applications through April 30th. However, they’ll evaluate the need to continue the campaign as time goes on.

Those who aren’t approved yet remain on file with the hope that the Restaurant Strong Fund will be able to give out money to everyone in the end. All future decisions are based on how much is raised and what happens with the entire Pandemic situation over the coming weeks.

How to Apply for or Donate to the Restaurant Strong Fund

Anyone can donate or apply directly on the Restaurant Strong website.

  • If you are a restaurant professional, you will need your last two pay stubs. You also need to meet a few minimum requirements.
  • If you know someone who is struggling from losing over 30 hours weekly at a restaurant, send them to the application.
  • If you want to help but you don’t know how, donate on the site. Or, keep reading for more information.

Go to Restaurant Strong
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The Story Behind How Samuel Adams Decided to Donate $2.1M to Restaurant Strong

The Restaurant Strong Fund is hosted by the Greg Hill Foundation. Samuel Adams and the Greg Hill Foundation have been partners on many past fundraising campaigns. Although, the Restaurant Strong Fund is the largest donation Sam Adams has made to the Foundation for one cause. It’s also the farthest reaching campaign that the two organizations have worked on together so far.

Greg is a restaurateur himself so we were always going to go in that direction, but Sam Adams has been a great partner for the foundation for years. They called us and said ‘We want to help and support. What can we do?’

So, we started to talk through how we can help a lot of people within the restaurant industry. We didn’t really know how big it would be or how long we would raise money for but we knew that we wanted to start and see where it took us.

– Benoit

At first, Sam Adams promised $100,000 to kickstart the campaign with high morale and social proof. And, they’d pitch another $100,000 when the first $100,000 was raised through online donations.

The Restaurant Strong Fund started accepting online donations as soon as restaurants closed down in Massachusetts. Within less than twenty-four hours they reached the first $100,000. On just the first day, there was over $300,000 to give to restaurant employees impacted by the Pandemic in the state of Massachusetts.

Soon afterward, Sam Adams expanded their support for Restaurant Strong to include 20 states. Each additional state has already received $100,000 to kickstart their own Restaurant strong campaigns. Although no other state has yet come close to raising near Massachusetts’ current total of over $825,000.

Sam Adams’ grand total donation to the Restaurant Strong Fund was a gigantic $2.1 million when you include the $100,000 matching donation for their home state of Massachusetts. Though they’re the biggest and the most prominent partner, they aren’t the only company involved in helping to grow the Restaurant Strong Fund. In fact, Sam Adams encourages others to join them.

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Why Restaurant Strong is Only Going to Get Stronger as the Pandemic Gets Longer

Online donations can only help make this campaign even bigger and better. So can the involvement of more partnerships from additional companies and nonprofit organizations. Influencers can even donate free publicity. The list goes on.

Anything goes during a Pandemic when it comes to generosity. Just keep giving. The Restaurant Strong Fund has this same philosophy.

Just Keep Giving
Share this image on Twitter.

There are more people who want to help in big ways. They just can’t mobilize as quickly as someone like Samuel Adams. More companies and more organizations will get involved as time goes on, and hopefully people will continue to give more online donations.

Sam Adams has been great. Fifty thousand applications have come in, but we don’t have fifty million dollars in our pot yet. I don’t know if we’ll get to that number. It’s super lofty. But every day we get closer. Every day it seems like there is a new big organization who wants to get involved and figure out the best way to get involved.

At the end of the day, we’re going to take in donations as long as we get them. We’re going to give out donations as long as we have people in our queue.

– Benoit

The global situation continues to change. What happens next with the Restaurant Strong Fund depends on public buy-in, awareness, and the response to the Pandemic. The more people who give and share this campaign, the stronger it will become.

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How the Restaurant Strong Fund is Powered with GiveWP on WordPress

Often, foundations that set up grants for others don’t have their own programming or staff. So they hire someone like Foundation Management and Pro-Productions (FMP Productions). FMP Productions manages many aspects involved in fundraising for foundations like Greg Hill.

We handle all of the fundraising whether it’s event-specific or campaign-specific. We do all the event production – marketing, social media, bookkeeping, billing, everything involved.

It’s amazing. We’ve gotten to work with a lot of different charities and causes over the years. But, the Greg Hill Foundation actually was our very first client.

-Benoit

Part of that fundraising management includes implementing GiveWP on nonprofit WordPress websites. It’s something they’ve done for all charity sites that they’ve updated or built for the past three years. The Restaurant Strong website is almost entirely powered by GiveWP donation forms.

Restaurant Strong donation form grid showing Arizona, California, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Maine, and Massachusetts.

If we didn’t have the Give platform, I don’t think it has the same appeal. The big thing is that it is on our website. And, for me, on the reporting side of the world, I have to pull data from all the states and provide it to Sam Adams. We’re trying to stay as transparent as possible.

-Benoit

The GiveWP reporting dashboard was built with foundations like this in mind.

Reporting and transparency is crucial in fundraising, especially right now. When tragedy is wide-spread, some unfortunately take advantage of the situation. That’s why funds like this are so important and why it’s so important to host your own online donation forms directly on your website.

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What’s Your Give Story?

Causes like the Restaurant Strong Fund are what drive Team Give to get out of bed every day. We’re all excitedly working in our home offices, invested in every cause we encounter.

Needless to say, we are extremely proud to be part of something so large, even in the smallest of ways. GiveWP isn’t just an online donation platform. It’s a community.

We’re constantly looking for Give Stories from real GiveWP users. Sign up for our newsletter to stay informed when we call for new stories. If you’re not using GiveWP yet, book a demo with our Customer Success Team. They’d love to show you everything GiveWP can do for your cause in a one-on-one demo.

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2 Responses

  1. I’m so glad your helping restaurant workers like me. I have been in the field for 40 plus years but don’t qualify for you grant because of health problems from age and working on my feet I can only do 5 hour shifts 3 days a week but can’t retire because we don’t make enough money to collect a good retirement. But Thank you so much for helping others.

    1. Thank you for this sweet note, Cynthia! It was an honor to write this story. The whole team is happy to be a small part of the effort to help restaurant employees through this crisis.

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