Q&A: D.C. restaurateur Alan Popovsky discusses philanthropy

November 5, 2011

Wednesday is Give to the Max Day in Washington, where businesses and nonprofits will see how much money they can raise for charity in 24 hours. The organizers have set out to raise millions of dollars. Alan G. Popovsky, owner of Apple Hospitality, which operates Hudson Restaurant & Lounge and the restaurant Lincoln, has signed on. He talked with The Post about how he sets priorities for his philanthropy.

Where does philanthropy fit in your business philosophy?

Community is at the heart of what I do, whether as a restaurant owner or philanthropist. When I owned Felix in Adams Morgan in the 1990s, I felt strongly about connecting with and supporting neighborhood nonprofits such as Mary’s Center and Jubilee Housing. It was good for the nonprofits, good for the neighborhood and good for business. A win-win-win. After Sept. 11, we held fundraisers for the families of employees who worked at the Windows on the World restaurant at the top of the World Trade Center.

In 2007, at the grand opening of Hudson Restaurant, we raised $5,000 for Hoop Dreams, a nonprofit founded by my friend Susie Kay. Since then, at Hudson and our newer restaurant, Lincoln, we are branching out into other issue areas, frequently relating to health — leukemia, lymphoma, diabetes. Most recently, we partnered with Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure, and Becky’s Fund, which is devoted to freedom from domestic violence.

Ballpark, how much do you give?

Around 1 percent of our annual revenue.

Has the focus of your philanthropy changed since the recession?

Not really. Our focus continues to be issues that affect all of us. My father passed away in 2007 from blood cancer. One thing I’ve learned is cancer doesn’t discriminate — we all will be affected by it in some way. Health issues really resonate with people.

How about the amount?

My financial commitment has remained the same. But beyond financial donations, we also contribute gift cards and gift certificates. Many local auctions depend on that support from the business community.

How do you set your priorities for giving?

We begin the year with a budget. For a really worthy cause, we may go beyond our budget. Groups now approach us because we have a reputation for hosting charity events, but we are also proactive in seeking out groups we believe in. As a dog owner and animal lover, I am attracted to animal rights organizations such as the Washington Humane Society and events such as Lucky Dog Animal Rescue and Fashion for Paws. This week we are spreading the word and supporting Give to the Max Day. We believe in the idea of a community-wide day of giving.

How do you gauge the impact of donations you make?

We understand that our donations may go to administrative costs. That may not be sexy, but you need infrastructure and staff to run a nonprofit.

For more information, go to give2max.razoo.com

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