Donating ideas, rather than money.

Toyota donated their efficiency model to New York's food bank instead of money this year. And what a difference this made.

James Estrin/The New York Times

Daryl Foriest, director of distribution at the Food Bank’s pantry and soup kitchen in Harlem, was skeptical at first of the Toyota engineers’ efforts. “The line of people waiting to eat is too long,” he told them. “Make the line shorter.” They did.

According to this recent NY Times article, teaching the Kaizen model to the food bank decreased lines for dinner from 90 to 18 minutes, filling bags from 11 to 6 minutes and packing boxes from 3 minutes to 11 seconds.

The kitchen, which can seat 50 people, typically opened for dinner at 4 p.m., and when all the chairs were filled, a line would form outside. Mr. Foriest would wait for enough space to open up to allow 10 people in. The average wait time could be up to an hour and a half.

Toyota made three changes. They eliminated the 10-at-a-time system, allowing diners to flow in one by one as soon as a chair was free. Next, a waiting area was set up inside where people lined up closer to where they would pick up food trays. Finally, an employee was assigned the sole duty of spotting empty seats so they could be filled quickly. The average wait time dropped to 18 minutes and more people were fed.