Ronald McDonald House brings back its appreciation campaign

The McDonald's-affiliated charity re-launches its thank-you card effort from 2015 after introducing new ways to give.

Ronald McDonald House Charities (RMHC) has brought back an appreciation campaign from 2015 to help connect McDonald’s customers with the people they help support.

The charity, established by McDonald’s in 1977, houses families with children affected by serious illness while they undergo treatment in hospitals far from home, enabling parents to remain close to their children throughout the process. (McDonald’s estimates that 65% of Canadian families live outside a city with a children’s hospital and must travel for treatment if their child is seriously ill). Last year, it helped more than 25,000 families across Canada.

RMHC first launched a campaign to show appreciation to customers in 2015, by surprising them with a written thank-you note from a family, child or parent inside McDonald’s Happy Meals. The idea was to increase awareness of the fact that 10 cents of every kids’ meal purchased goes directly towards RMHC year-round. The effort was followed by a video, launched the next day, that captured the reactions of customers, many of whom were unaware of they’d been supporting families this whole time.

This year’s effort aimed to go a little bit further, allowing RMHC families to meet with the customers directly. In a social video produced and launched the day after the card-giving event earlier this week, four families are seen approaching customers and sharing their messages of hope and appreciation.

RMHC worked with Cossette on creative, OMD on media and Weber Shandwick Canada on influencer relations and PR.

Since the launch of the original thank-you campaign, McDonald’s has introduced new ways for customers to give to RMHC, and Roxanna Kassam-Kara, head of marketing and communications for RMHC Canada, says that made it feel like the right time to bring back the campaign.

“Everyday when we’re in the houses, we hear first-hand from the families about how grateful they are for the role RMHC plays in their journeys,” she says. “We’ve heard those things so much, over and over again, and it really struck us that we needed to share this with Canadians who support us.”

“Last time, we did the thank you cards, that the families wrote, and they just seemed so true and honest that we felt we would do that again,” adds Kassam-Kara. “But we felt that they connected so well with their fellow Canadians. And we wanted to take that one step further and have the families be able to connect with Canadians themselves and be able to share their thanks.”

Last year, McDonald’s introduced the option to give to RMHC through the electronic ordering kiosks the restaurant has been adding to stores (instead of only through coin boxes at the counter) and began selling heart-shaped RMHC Cookies, with a portion of the proceeds going to the charity.

Kassam-Kara says customers have not gravitated towards any one particular method of giving, though RMHC has seen in uptick in kiosk donations, as more customers begin ordering that way.

Between 2015 and this year, RMHC has tested various campaign approaches, including a “Make Fun Matter” platform in 2016, a push around the launch of RMHC cookies, and a collaboration with Canadian community-based choir Choir!Choir!Choir! last year.