Eat good food and support a good cause? What could be better? The LGBT Center of Raleigh invites people to do both with their monthly DineOUT fundraising dinners.
The concept is simple. Each month the Center partners with a Raleigh restaurant and invites supporters to come out for dinner. These dinners are generally held on Tuesdays, usually otherwise slow nights in the dining industry. The restaurant, in turn, donates anywhere from 15 to 30 percent of the proceeds to the center.
“The guiding question then was ‘How can we better connect with the surrounding businesses while also building a culture of philanthropy in Raleigh?’” wrote James Miller, the center’s executive director in an e-mail.
Over the years, the dinners have grown from being focused on certain events or celebrations (National Coming Out Day, Valentine’s Day or the Transgender Day of Remembrance for instance), but the demand from the Center’s constituency for more frequent dinners led Miller and the team at the Center to turn DineOUT into a monthly occurrence. Previous dinner locations have included The Borough (now closed), Remedy Diner, ORO and Fiction Kitchen.
“Our last event at Oak City Meatball Shoppe brought out a wide variety of people and they were the most hospitable spot we’ve ever been in!” Miller recalled. “They only seat about 50-60 people, and having 100 people show up on a random Tuesday really put them to the test, but they did it all with huge smiles.”
I asked Miller how much money has been raised through the DineOUT dinners. His response?
“I think the better question is ‘how many people got to try a new place they never would in downtown Raleigh with their chosen family?’ I see this program as having far better outcomes by building relationships, not necessarily the size of the donation.”
That being said, the financial impact has been positive for the center. Miller estimates that the DineOUT events have raised more than $15,000 over the past few years to support the Center’s 22 programs.
Miller is excited about the future of DineOUT, noting that “with everything opening in the next few months, we can’t wait to see who’s ready to work with us and create a truly inclusive space in downtown Raleigh.”
“As a Southerner and as a Jew, I know that food really is key to bringing people together and I think this program is an excellent start to building great relationships between the greater Raleigh community and the LGBTQ community,” he adds.
The next DineOUT dinner is coming up on January 17 at Flying Biscuit in Cameron Village.
You can learn more about the Center, their programs, and upcoming DineOUT dinners and events online lgbtcenterofraleigh.com or by calling 919-832-4484.
Matt Lardie is a Durham-based food and travel writer. He is the co-founder of the lifestyle website School of Home: schoolofhome.com. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.