Maximizing charitable gifts through in-kind donations

With hotel markets across the nation experiencing a return to normal levels of volume and the holidays fast approaching, hospitality owners and operators are once again looking for ways to give back to their communities.

While many businesses naturally open their checkbooks to make charitable donations, hotels have an opportunity to maximize their impact through in-kind gifts that tap into a property’s existing infrastructure and resources.

From offering up event spaces and hosting nonprofit benefits in our restaurants, to enlisting the support of staff member volunteers and donating food and beverage costs, hotels offer endless opportunities for supporting charitable organizations with minimal out of pocket expenses incurred.

The InterContinental Miami has partnered with Make-A-Wish Southern Florida to present the InterContinental Miami Make-A-Wish Ball going back nearly two decades. The hotel has contributed more than US$4 million through in-kind donations to Make-A-Wish Southern Florida since 1995.

The decision to align with Make-A-Wish Southern Florida was well thought-out from the very beginning. The management team at the time set out to create a banner event in 1995 and Make-A-Wish Southern Florida was looking for a willing partner. The hotel’s alliance was strengthened eight years ago when Strategic Hotels & Resorts, Chicago, acquired the property and reaffirmed its commitment to the event.

The hotel’s partnership with Make-A-Wish Southern Florida is far more extensive than a basic sponsorship. The hotel has donated the in-kind value of the event’s food, beverage, parking, accommodation and venue expenses each year. All told, it has donated more than 8,000 management hours to planning the event, and the affiliation acts as a platform upon which Make-A-Wish Southern Florida has raised more than US$12.3 million, enabling the organization to grant over 2,600 wishes to ill children.

Hosting the event also puts the hotel in Miami’s social spotlight just as the holiday season kicks into high gear. This exposure creates invaluable marketing and public relations exposure among key influencers in the community, as well as current and potential clients. This served the hotel especially well in 2012, when it positioned the ball as an initial unveiling of a US$30 million renovation project.

While making cash donations to nonprofits should always be a priority, socially minded hotels, their owners and the managers who run them should consider in-kind gifts as a way to stretch their dollar and enhance impact.

Contributed by Robert Hill, general manager, InterContinental Miami