July 31, 2015; The Guardian

For those who dine at restaurants on a regular basis and also like to use their mobile devices, either for making reservations or checking menus, philanthropy has become the latest choice on the menu. As an extension of SmartLine, a computer program for restaurants that helps manage wait lists and guest data, CharityWait is a new mobile app that provides a way for diners who have to wait for a table to be philanthropic.

Here’s how it works. When a guest arrives at a restaurant that has signed up with SmartLine technology and there is a wait, the guest’s name is added to the list. The guest then receives a text to a link that shows the spot in line, estimated wait time, menu, and an option to “donate and skip the wait.” When the guest selects the donate option, he or she is taken to a checkout page. Once this process is complete, the guest moves to the front of the line to be seated next.

CharityWait assures users that it will not disrupt wait times of guests who just want to wait for a table and not use the app. (Some diners are skeptical, like this poster to Chowhound who asks, “Why would a restaurant with people waiting in line set aside tables?”)

Fees are calculated based on the size of the group, the wait time, and the restaurant’s prices. CharityWait’s fees range from $10 to $50, with 60 percent going to charity and 40 percent going to SmartLine. Charities are chosen by restaurants and receive donations in a monthly lump sum.

Since the app launched in April, ten restaurants in New York City have started using it. But users are overwhelmingly positive about the app and thousands of dollars have already been raised.

Daniel Reitman, CEO of SmartLine, explained:

“72 percent of consumers recommend a brand that supports a good cause over one that doesn’t, so CharityWait puts restaurants in a favorable position. […] People love it. We haven’t had any negative feedback at all from the consumers. Being able to give back to the local community or major charity and have the ability that if they don’t want to wait, they don’t have to wait. They can do something good and save time.”

What do you think? Would you use CharityWait to make a donation to a charity if your favorite restaurant offered it? Would it make sense for hotel restaurants to partner with the app?—Debbie Laskey