Panera Cares: Social Good Proves to Be Profitable.

Often times the term “social good” is applied to non-profit organizations, but for-profit entities can provide meaningful contributions to society as well.

Starbucks, for example takes the profits of its stores in the lower-income areas of New York City's Harlem, and South Central Los Angeles' Crenshaw District and gives back to the community by funding after school and other education efforts. Starbucks has also created a fund to deliver micro-loans to small businesses. As CEO Howard Schultz says, if banks aren't lending to small business, someone has to step in.

Another example is the fast casual chain Panera Bread.

The company has created “Panera Cares” community cafes which exist to feed “each and every person who walks through our doors with dignity regardless of their means.” The concept is a pay-what-you-can environment. 

And, it is nice to hear that Panera’s concept is paying off. Not only by helping society, but by showing that concept of social good can not only pay off in pay-it-forward points, but at the cash register as well.

So far, the St. Louis-based company has three Panera Cares eateries and they are turning a profit. This is good news for the company, which has just recently opened its fourth shop in Chicago, and plans on opening a Panera Cares café each quarter.

The idea is simple: consumers who can pay more will do so while those who can’t pay at all can work for an hour in exchange for food. Reportedly, about 20% of customers leave more money than the suggested donation with no pressure, while 20% pay less. The proceeds from Panera Cares goes to social service organizations that provide job training for at-risk youth, who Panera then hire.

It sounds to us like a beautiful circle of social good.

Source: Chicago Tribune and brand channel

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