IFA Foundation Celebrates Third Year of "Franchising Gives Back"

Since it launched in 2015, Franchising Gives Back has grown rapidly as hundreds of franchisors, franchisees, and suppliers shared their charitable and community support activities, contributing millions of dollars and volunteer hours to their communities.


By Steve Romaniello, CFE
During the third annual Franchising Gives Back Celebration and Awards Dinner in September, IFA’s Franchise Education and Research Foundation honored 18 IFA members — five Gold Award Winners and 13 Silver Award Winners — who collectively donated over $100 million, countless volunteer hours, and in-kind products and services to give back to charities and communities across the country. This is one of my favorite events of the year as it shines a spotlight on the contributions franchise businesses make every day in the places where we work and live.
Since the Foundation launched the yearlong Franchising Gives Back program in 2015, hundreds of franchisors, franchisees, and suppliers have created profiles about their charitable and community support activities, contributing millions of dollars and volunteer hours to their communities.

2017 Gold Award Winners

Spirit of Franchising Award: McDonald’s
In 2015, McDonald's launched Archways to Opportunity, an education program that allows U.S.-based restaurant employees the chance to earn a high school diploma, receive tuition assistance, access free education advising services, and learn English as a second language. Nearly 17,000 people have enrolled over the last two years and McDonald’s has awarded more than $13 million in tuition assistance. Additionally, there have been more than 100 graduates from the Career Online High School and 5,200 graduates of the English Under the Arches program.
Enduring Impact Award: The Wendy’s Company
In 2004, the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption launched Wendy’s Wonderful Kids, which awards grants to public and private adoption agencies to hire adoption professionals that create recruitment programs to help families for children who have been waiting in foster care the longest. Over the past five years, Wendy’s has raised over $77.6 million for the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption and Wendy’s Wonderful Kids, helping to finalize over 6,300 adoptions. Wendy’s hopes to raise an additional $12 million this year for the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption.
Support Our Veterans Award: Dream Vacations
Since 2012, Dream Vacations (a CruiseOne company) has awarded 25 military veterans free franchises through its “Operation Vetrepreneur: Become Your Own General” annual contest. The goal is to ease veterans’ transition back into civilian life with a career opportunity that combines their military skills and travel experiences. To date, Dream Vacations’ in-kind donation exceeds $317,000 and, moreover, the contest has evolved into a broader veterans program for Dream Vacations, allowing the franchisor to increase the number of veterans in their system by 15 percent.
Innovation and Impact Award: Massage Heights
Since establishing the Massage Heights Family Fund in 2013 following the experience of co-founder and president Shane Evans had on “Undercover Boss,” Massage Heights has raised nearly $53,000 to help provide financial relief and assistance to franchisees’ employees and their families in times of crisis, need, or hardship. Over the l\past four years, the Massage Heights Family Fund has awarded 16 grants totaling $15,500 to assist with medical co-pays for chemotherapy; to pay for food, rent, and living expenses after an employee’s husband was injured in an automobile accident; to help pay for temporary housing after an employee’s home was lost in a fire; and more.
The Newcomer Award: Planet Fitness
Last year, Planet Fitness launched a national cause initiative called The Judgement Free Generation, a pro-kindness, anti-bullying movement, with a mission to encourage a generation to grow up contributing to a more-judgement-free planet. Planet Fitness partnered with Boys & Girls Clubs of America and STOMP Out Bullying, raising over $1.5 million in its inaugural year by donating the $10 new-member enrollment fee during the weeklong national cause-marketing program, in addition to contributing over $100,000 in in-kind donations and more than 1,300 volunteer hours.

2017 Silver Award Winners

  • Spirit of Franchising Award: Sonny’s BBQ (Random Acts of BBQ), Home Instead Senior Care (Hilarity for Charity), and Dream Dinners (Living the Dream Foundation).
  • Enduring Impact Award: Tropical Smoothie Cafe (Camp Sunshine), McAlister’s Deli of Louisville (Crusade for Children), and Global Franchise Group (A Bite for the Fight).
  • Support Our Veterans Award: Sport Clips (VFW Sports Clips “Help A Hero” Scholarship Program) and Anytime Fitness (Operation HeartFirst).
  • Innovation and Impact Award: Dunkin’ Donuts (Box 4 Special Services Canteen), Abrakadoodle (Abrakadoodle Arts for All), and Naples Donuts LLC ($100 4 100).
  • The Newcomer Award: Chicken Salad Chick (Music and Miracles) and The Cleaning Authority (The Cleaning Authority CARES).

Contribute to Franchising Gives Back

While Roark Capital Group made an initial grant, Franchising Gives Back needs additional funding from other IFA members. I hope you will join us in saluting the best, most innovative community leaders and charitable programs nationwide.
As part of the ongoing initiative for Franchising Gives Back, the IFA Franchise Education & Research Foundation has developed a national registry of the franchising industry’s charitable contributions. Members of the IFA can register and create a profile for their organization by visiting franchisinggivesback.org, where they can submit details about their charitable activities, including hours volunteered and money donated, as well as upcoming events, news and blog posts.
Franchising Gives Back depends on donations to the IFA Franchise Education & Research Foundation. For more information on contributing to Franchising Gives Back through its partner program — including sponsorship opportunities for the Annual Awards event — contact Gionne Jones at gjones@franchise.org.
Steve Romaniello, CFE, is the Managing Director of Roark Capital Group.