Getting a Lawrence giveback card
People can pick up their free Lawrence GiveBack card at Checkers or at participating restaurants. Those include:
• 23rd St. Brewery• Bambino’s• Bigg’s BBQ• Buffalo Bob’s Smokehouse• Genovese• Global Café• J.B. Stout’s• Johnny’s Tavern• La Parilla• Local Burger• Marisco’s • Pachamamas & Star Bar• Paisano’s• Set ’em Up Jack’s• TEN• Zen Zero• Zig & Mac’s
Cardholders will be allowed to designate any Lawrence-based nonprofit organization as their beneficiary, as long as the managers of the card program can verify that it is a legitimate nonprofit that serves the Lawrence area.
If Lawrence residents maintain healthy appetites during these rough economic times, tens of thousands of dollars may be headed toward Lawrence social service agencies.
A group of 17 locally owned restaurants and the Checkers grocery store have teamed up to create a free dining card program that will donate money directly to Lawrence nonprofit agencies.
“The only thing we’re reading in the newspaper right now is how much the city or the state is going to cut from these organizations,” said organizer Constance Wolfe. Here’s how the program — called the Lawrence GiveBack Card — will work:
l You can go to any of the 17 participating restaurants and present your card. The restaurant will scan the card through a special reader, and then automatically donate 5 percent of your bill — excluding tax, tip and alcohol purchases — to a Lawrence nonprofit agency that you have designated on your card. You’ll also be awarded one point for every dollar you spend at the participating restaurants. For every 200 points you collect, you’ll have $10 added to your card to spend at participating businesses.
l You also can present your card at Checkers, 2300 La. Checkers will automatically donate 1 percent of your purchase to your chosen charity. Each quarter, Checkers will place on your card dollars equal to 1 percent of your total spending at Checkers that quarter.
Consumers don’t have to pay anything to get a card, and the cards will be valid for at least a year, Wolfe said.
Local nonprofits are hopeful that the card program can provide a significant boost in funding. Midge Grinstead, executive director of the Lawrence Humane Society, said that conservative estimates are that the program could provide $30,000 to be split among participating nonprofit agencies. If the card is widely used, Grinstead said it could easily generate more than $100,000 for nonprofits.
“It could make for a heck of a year,” Grinstead said. “And it is so much better than having my hand held out. I feel like I’m doing that all the time. People are great, but you always would like to give them something more than the satisfaction they get by giving.”
Local business owners are hoping that the card program serves as a reminder of the importance of shopping locally.
“We’re obviously hoping to get more business out of it,” said Doug Holiday, an owner of Bigg’s BBQ who helped organize the local restaurant group. “We’re hoping it will generate more repetition and more loyalty, and give people a reason to dine at the local restaurants instead of the national chains.”
The restaurants and Checkers are paying Wolfe — who started a separate dining card program in 2004 — a fee to manage the program. But the social service agencies do not have to pay a fee. They keep the full 5 percent donation from restaurants and the full 1 percent donation from Checkers.
The program also will include a monthly e-mail to cardholders to update them on how much the project has raised, and how much they have individually donated through their purchases.
Wolfe said all the businesses have committed to try the project for a year. She said if the program goes well, she hopes to allow other locally owned retailers to join the program. But she said the program is designed to allow only locally owned businesses to participate.
“We’re trying to stimulate our local business community as much as possible,” Wolfe said. “There’s so much that is out of our control with the economy these days, so if we can do something to help our local economy, we should.”
Businesses are expected to start accepting the cards on Monday. The program has been in the development stage for about 15 months.
“But it looks like it is going to be amazing timing for the social service agencies,” Holiday said.