Ronald McDonald House Charities (RMHC)

Interior of a Ronald McDonald House
Ronald McDonald House Dallas - The Great Room. RMHC

History

The Ronald Mcdonald House has become so firmly connected to the fast food franchise known as McDonald's, that it may come as a surprise that they were not founded at the same time.

In fact, McDonald's fast food franchise opened its first store in 1955, according to the now well-known story of Ray Kroc who saw potential in a small hamburger joint, purchased it, and made a fortune.  It was much later that the McDonald's corporation took a keen interest in a small charity that helped sick kids and families,

The first Ronald McDonald House opened in Philadelphia in 1974. It came about because of the experience of Fred Hill (Philadelphia Eagles tight end) and his wife, when their 3-year-old daughter, Kim, was diagnosed and then treated for leukemia.

The Hills camped out in hospital waiting rooms and corridors for three years and saw many other families who did the same. Many parents had traveled far to get their children medical care and could not afford hotel rooms.

The Hills started a small charity. Jim brought in an advertising executive, with ties to the McDonald's corporation, to help with fundraising. The effort grew until the first Ronald McDonald House became a residence for families of children receiving treatment at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia.

Today there is a growing network of 365 Houses around the world.

Mission

"The mission of Ronald McDonald House Charities (RMHC) is to create, find and support programs that directly improve the health and well-being of children."

RMHC's mission is based on its core values. They are:

  • Focusing on the critical needs of children.
  • Celebrating the diversity of the programs we offer and the staff, volunteers, and donors who make them possible.
  • Staying true to our heritage of 36 years of responsible stewardship.
  • Operating with accountability and transparency.

    Programs

    RMHC carries out its mission through these programs:

    • Ronald McDonald Houses. These are temporary residences located near major medical centers that house the families of children being treated there.
    • Ronald McDonald Family Rooms. Particular areas located within medical facilities, near patients' rooms and intensive care units. The Family Rooms provide a calm place where families can regroup, rest, and relax while attending to their ill children.
    • Ronald McDonald Care Mobile. These are special vehicles deployed in areas around the world where health care for children is limited. They provide cost-effective, high-quality medical, dental and health education services.
    • Local Chapters. Local chapters of RMHC have been established around the world. They use volunteers to accomplish local projects, ranging from sports centers for physically challenged children to sensory rooms for children with cognitive and physical disabilities.
    • Grants. RMHC also provides grants to other charities around the globe. The charity focuses on organizations that help children and families.
    • Scholarships. RMHC gives scholarships to U.S. students attending colleges and universities. Needy students with good grades who help their communities and show leadership are invited to apply.

      McDonald's Involvement with RMHC

      Ronald McDonald House Charities has been McDonald’s charity of choice since 1975.

      RMHC is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) corporation, but McDonald's is its largest corporate donor. Part of RMHC's annual budget comes from McDonald's and owners of local McDonald's restaurants. The rest of RMHC's support comes from individuals and other corporate donors.

      Accolades

      RMHC has dedicated itself to building and refitting its houses in energy efficient ways. Serving thousands of families a night in the more than 365 Ronald McDonald Houses can use a lot of energy.

      RMHC's environmental initiatives include adopting energy-efficient practices, reducing, reusing and recycling waste, conserving water, using green products and building green.

      All of provides more green space for RMHC families and tremendous savings in operational costs. Those savings, in turn, support programs.

      Criticisms

      The Ronald McDonald House Charities enjoys an excellent reputation and a 4-star rating from Charity Navigator.  

      However, the McDonald's corporation has been slammed in recent years for trying to brand itself as a good corporate citizen while providing a fraction of the funding needed to support the RMHC charities. As USA Today put it,

      "McDonald's is mostly using the charity as a branding device for its food sales because the corporation, itself, contributes so little to the charity. While McDonald's reaps 100% of the 'branded benefit' from the charity, it contributes only about 20% of the money."

      RMHC devotes a page on its website to clarify its relationship with McDonald's, making clear that while the corporation is its largest sponsor, the charity's funds come from a diverse set of individual and corporate donors.

      Also, many food experts, such as FastFoodMarketing.org, point out that fast-food companies like McDonald's advertise to youngsters thus contributing to well-known health problems in today's children. 

      RMHC Website