THE BLOG
01/30/2015 09:45 am ET Updated Apr 01, 2015

Something You Don't Know About the Shake Shack IPO

The Shake Shack IPO has received an extraordinary amount of attention today, not to mention analysis of what it means for the food industry, investors, etc. But one little-known aspect of the deal that's been entirely overlooked may have the longest-term implications of all -- not just for food but for philanthropy.

Several months ago an investor in the Union Square Hospitality Group transferred $1 million worth of his USHG stock to our anti-hunger organization, Share Our Strength, after making sure with the company that it was comfortable with a nonprofit holding its stock. It was the investor's belief that its value could increase in ways that represent a greater return on investment than much of the fundraising we do.

Danny Meyer has been on the board of Share Our Strength for more than 20 years, but of course we never spoke of a Shake Shack IPO and only knew what we'd tasted at his fine dining restaurants in New York, and at Shake Shack in Washington, D.C. We also knew that Shake Shack -- in fact, all the USHG restaurants -- were active supporters of our No Kid Hungry Campaign.

It's not clear yet what the ultimate valuation will be of our USHG stock, but it looks like aligning with a growing company will enable us have a much greater impact on childhood hunger than traditional forms of nonprofit-revenue generation would permit. Hopefully other investors and nonprofits will come to see the potential in such relationships. It's not unlike the 1-1-1 model of "integrated corporate philanthropy" being promoted by Salesforce founder and CEO Marc Benioff, who urges that companies donate funds, time and equity to nonprofit organizations.

Fortunes have been made in the stock market, but rarely by nonprofits. Instead we are almost always on the outside looking in. And while we would never put hard-earned donor donations at risk in anything as speculative as an IPO, there's nothing to say a savvy investor can't risk their own funds, as they routinely do on behalf of greater reward, on our behalf.

Both Meyer and Shake Shack CEO Randy Garutti have spoken of their desire to create a new kind of wealth called "community wealth" -- that is, wealth that doesn't just make individuals and corporations richer but makes communities stronger, healthier, and with more promising futures.

The impetus of the original Shake Shack in Madison Square Park was to create resources for its community. Leave it to Danny Meyer, after masterminding both national and international expansion, to make sure that not only do investors benefit but more hungry children get fed as a result of this transaction.

About Share Our Strength's No Kid Hungry Campaign: No child should go hungry in America, but one in five kids will face hunger this year. Using proven, practical solutions, No Kid Hungry is ending childhood hunger today by ensuring that kids start the day with a nutritious breakfast and families learn the skills they need to shop and cook on a budget. When we all work together, we can make sure kids get the healthy food they need. No Kid Hungry is a campaign of national anti-hunger organization Share Our Strength. Join us at NoKidHungry.org.