Finding Your Peanut Butter & Jelly Sandwich

How to Weave Giving Back & A Charitable Component to Your Franchise Model

By Jeff Sinelli, Which Wich Founder, CEO & Chief Vibe Officer

To celebrate National Peanut Butter & Jelly Day on Tuesday, April 2, Which Wich teamed up with our friends at Hormel Foods and SKIPPY® peanut butter to celebrate throughout the entire month of April. We celebrated by encouraging others to give back to local communities with a goal of donating more than 20,000 PB&J sandwiches to fight hunger – and donations were matched up to $20,000 to hunger relief efforts nationally.

We ran this “Spread the Love” campaign through Project PB&J, which we started five years ago with a belief that you can change the world with a simple PB&J sandwich. It’s been incredible to see the program grow in just five years. We’ve been able to donate more than a million PB&J sandwiches to organizations in local communities including The Salvation Army, Boys & Girls Club, Big Brothers Big Sisters, as well as hundreds of local charities, churches, and those working to help feed those in need. Our franchisees have been a tremendous force of good in their local communities as well, giving to a variety of local causes across the country.

I believe it’s vitally important to have a way that your franchise system can unite around a common goal and give back. I’m often asked by fellow franchisors how to get their own philanthropic program started and my advice is simple:

Find your PB&J.

I love PB&J sandwiches. My wife and I have both loved PB&J sandwiches since childhood, and we have been able to share that love with our daughters. It was that love that I went back to after I had established the Which Wich brand and felt we were able to truly rally around a cause. The beauty of the PB&J sandwich to me was that it aligned with our brand (we are a sandwich franchise after all), it’s easy to execute yet can mean so much to those who need it, and it provided a fun yet tangible way for our Which Wich family to get involved – but can gain buy-in and participation beyond just our yellow-and-black walls. It’s important that your PB&J represents your brand and, like the franchise model itself, can be easily duplicated and executed across the system.

I’m also a firm believer in walking the walk. Project PB&J gave me, and our system, a platform where our actions and our investment of time is as important as the financial cost. We have gone out in various cities and physically handed our PB&J sandwiches to those in need. We’ve held numerous “Spreading Parties” where we get together to make PB&J sandwiches to then donate to fight hunger – heck, we’ve even broken the Guinness Book of World Records for "Most sandwiches made in one hour" twice. So, your program should also be one that involves actual investment of time and action – not just cutting a check.

Good luck finding your PB&J…and keep an eye out for next year's National Peanut Butter & Jelly Day!