For the client project this term, my group and I were assigned Ronald McDonald House Charities South Central Ontario. Our group had a different experience, because unlike most of the other groups, Ronald McDonald House is a very well-established charity, and already has dedicated donors and communications. The first assignment that we had was to conduct a communications audit, during which we would see what kinds of communications they use, and to maybe suggest different types of communications. We met with Jill, the communications manager at the house, in order to discuss the various communication methods they use at the charity. The meeting went very well, but Jill basically told us that they did not really have any need for us, and that she was mostly working with Mohawk for our benefit. The charity already knew how to communicate to its donors and internal staff, and it did not really need us to do a communications audit. When we conducted the communications audit, we discovered that the internal staff was happy with the communications they were receiving, and that there was really no need for a change. The client was not using Instagram very much, but that was something they were working on improving.
For the next part of the client assignment, we had to come up with a fundraiser and execute it. Being a very established charity, Ronald McDonald House did not really need any help with fundraising. However, Jill did tell us that they would like to raise awareness of the charity, and what they do. Many people think that Ronald McDonald House is owned and operated by McDonald’s restaurant, and question why Ronald McDonald House needs donations. In reality, Ronald McDonald is independently owned and operated, and while they do get funding from McDonalds, it adds up to only about 20% of their annual budget. McDonalds founded the first Ronald McDonald House in Canada in 1981, but they do not run any of the charity work, or own the houses. McDonalds also helps Ronald McDonald House with fundraising, such as McHappy Day, when proceeds from Happy Meals go to Ronald McDonald Houses in the area.
For the fundraiser, we started with lots of interesting ideas, including holding a game night at a local board game café, and hosting a movie night at a local school. When Mohawk College went on strike, we were not able to carry out our fundraiser, and when school finally started again, there was so much to do, we decided to change our plan. Instead of doing something big, we used Ronald McDonald House’s fundraising platform “Make Fun Matter” to make a fundraising page, and posted about it on all of our social media accounts. Our goal was to raise $159, which is the cost of hosting one family for one night at Ronald McDonald House, and we raised $459. We were very pleased with the amount that we managed to raise, but we were also happy that so many people saw our message, and obviously responded to it. Awareness was what the client wanted, and hopefully we helped to provide it.
I think that while we learned a lot from our experience, it was very different from what other groups experienced. Our client was very well established and well-known charity. They hold galas and charity golf tournaments every year, thanking donors who gave generously throughout the year. Everyone knows the name Ronald McDonald House, even if they do not fully understand how it works. Despite the fact that our help was not really needed by the charity, it was still a great learning experience, and we were pleased that we managed to raise money for a charity that the whole group thinks is very important.
(Ronald McDonald House Charities South Central Ontario)