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.
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 worldwide network of:
- 375 Ronald McDonald Houses
- 262 Ronald McDonald Family Rooms
- 51 Ronald McDonald Care Mobiles
Plus, RMHC provides grants to other nonprofit organizations that focus on children.
"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 responsible stewardship
- Operating with accountability and transparency.
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. At last count, there were 375 houses.
- Ronald McDonald Family Rooms. Particular areas situated in 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. Fifty of these care mobiles 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.
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. However, the rest of RMHC's support comes from individuals and other corporate donors.
RMHC has dedicated itself to building and refitting its houses in energy-efficient ways. Serving thousands of families a night in more than 375 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 which provide more green space for RMHC families and tremendous savings in operational costs. Those savings, in turn, support programs.
The Ronald McDonald House Charities enjoys an excellent reputation, and most of its affiliated chapters have three and four-star ratings from Charity Navigator.
However, the McDonald's corporation has been slammed in recent years in a report from industry watchdog, Corporate Accountability, for trying to brand itself as a good corporate citizen while providing a fraction of the funding needed to support the RMHC charities.
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.