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More than burgers

McDonald's is a major player on the local fundraising scene, supporting a wide range of nonprofit community initiatives

By Erika Engle

LAST UPDATED: 11:15 a.m. HST, Feb 12, 2014

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The most high-profile aspect of corporate giving by McDonald’s Restaurants of Hawaii Inc. is likely its support of the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Hawaii, or RMHC-Hawaii, but the quick-service restaurant chain also is a major sponsor of many other Hawaii nonprofit fundraising efforts.

Giving is “part of our heritage at McDonald’s,” said Melanie Okazaki, marketing manager for McDonald’s Restaurants of Hawaii Inc. “We always believe in
giving back to the community. It’s an important part of who we are and what we do.”



In addition to RMHC-Hawaii, which provides a home setting for seriously ill children and their families, the biggies for McDonald's of Hawaii are Hawaii Children and Youth Day, the FIRST Robotics Competition, and the state Department of Education's career and technical education programs.

Many other nonprofit and community organizations also receive support from the local locations of the globally known restaurant chain. They include the Hawaii State Public Library System's annual summer reading program, the Hono­lulu Zoo's "Wildest Show in Town" summertime concert series, and a good number of youth sports teams, school bands, hula halau, paddling clubs and more.

The July 4 festivities for the grand reopening of the Hawaii Kai McDonald's, for instance, raised funds for the Rotary Club of Hawaii Kai and Kaiser High School.

Because McDonald's of Hawaii comprises company-owned and franchisee-owned stores, total charitable giving by all restaurants in the region that includes Guam and Saipan is not tallied.

"I don't think we quantify (all of) the support, because we do it in so many different ways," Okazaki said.

Between the company and its customers via in-store and drive-thru canisters, as well as other programs including newspaper purchases, "in excess of $250,000" per year is collected for Ronald McDonald House Charities of Hawaii, Okazaki said.

That is an example of cash giving, but the company also provides other types of support that are not strictly monetary.

For instance, company executives serve as judges and mentors for the state Department of Education's annual career and technical education competition.

"So there's that part" of giving, Okazaki said.

Decision-making behind corporate giving centers on families, with an emphasis on children and youth education, she said.

“So that’s how our sponsorship of FIRST Robotics came about … it’s such
an exciting thing,” said Okazaki, who spoke of being “amazed” at how fun the event was — with the many parents and students cheering in the stands, as well as the number of schools and students participating in this facet of STEM, or science, technology, engineering and math education.

There are 75 McDonald's restaurants in Hawaii. Twenty-four are company-owned and 51 are owned by 13 local franchisees. Oahu has 51 stores, and there are 10 more on Maui, nine on Hawaii island and five on Kauai. All neighbor island stores are owned by franchisees.

Between Guam and Saipan, there are 10 additional stores under the purview of McDonald's Restaurants of Hawaii.

"We're always interested in opportunities" to sponsor local nonprofit community organizations, Okazaki said.

To be considered, "we ask that information be sent to us" at the regional office downtown, such as the nature of the organization, proof of nonprofit status, the purpose of desired fundraising and contact information.

"It does take a while," she said, as there are "internal processes" to work through, so a nonprofit needing money this week for, say, a T-shirt purchase next week is not going to get timely approval.

However, another option is for organizations to sell what are called "McFun-Raiser" booklets containing coupons redeemable for food items at no additional cost. The booklet is valued at $16 because it also contains a coupon for $5 off youth admission to Wet‘n'Wild Hawaii.

Organizations purchase the booklets from RMHC-Hawaii for $3 each, sell them for $5 and keep $2 from each sale.­

At a hyper-local level, managers at each location also may be contacted.

"It would be helpful to provide something in writing, such as a letter of request," with specifics about what the organization is seeking, Okazaki said. Sometimes teachers will call a local restaurant manager and express a need for pencils, for example, and "we go ahead and we do that," she said.

The company tries to honor as many nonprofit requests as possible across the state.

"We appreciate the community's support of McDonald's," Okazaki said. "We feel that it is our duty to return the favor and support the community that supports us."


1132 Bishop St., Suite 2000, Honolulu, HI 96813
Call 585-8570 or fax 532-1580


Ronald McDonald House Charities of Hawaii: $250,000+

Children and Youth Day: Diamond-level sponsor, cash donation of $15,000 plus $10,000 in-kind giving

FIRST Robotics Competition: Nearly $36,000 to the competition in 2012

State Department of Education career and technical education programs: $13,000 to CTE programs, $10,000 to the Hawaii State Career and Technical Student Organization in 2013

Michelle Takahashi

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