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McDonald's cheaply exploits charity to target children and boost sales

Wednesday, November 13, 2013 by: PF Louis
Tags: McDonald''s, charity, targeting children

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(NaturalNews) McDonald's, the largest fast food chain in the world, is creating a benevolent image and deflecting criticism of their toxic junk food and low wages by associating its mascot, Ronald McDonald, with Ronald McDonald House Charities (RMHC), an international housing charity.

RMHC offers a network of temporary lodging for parents of hospitalized children who live far enough away from the hospitals that they need help staying near their children while hospitalized. The recommended contribution for staying is usually $15 a day, but if that can't be afforded, parents are still allowed to stay.

It must be said cynically, that this is all mostly a distraction from real health all the way around. Children are being given toxic treatments for cancer and fed GMO and processed hospital foods while their parents are given low cost or free lodging to hang around and comfort them, all under the rubric of Ronald McDonald, junk food McDonald's visible mascot and symbol.

Of course, if a child is hospitalized necessarily for serious injury trauma, such a charity is helpful. There aren't many natural solutions for broken or burnt body parts. But the hypocrisy goes deeper with the association of RMHC and McDonald's fast food restaurants.

McDonald's contributions range from miniscule to none

McDonald's gets a lot of free brand name promotion out of this. Appearances from Ronald McDonald clowns on local TV stations promoting RMHC adds to the free promotion.

And while covering its negative contribution of unhealthy food and diverting attention from its poorly paid, overworked staffs, they're softening parents and luring kids. After all, who would argue with a benevolent charity?

"Clowning Around With Charity," a detailed report by Michele Simon, with cooperation from various NGO corporate monitoring groups, clearly shows that what McDonald's "gives back" is a tiny fraction of their revenue, and much of it comes from restaurant customer contribution boxes. But McDonald's acts like it's all from them. Image is everything!

Even in New Mexico, my home state, the RMHC FAQ webpage mentions that no more than 10 percent of their total operating funds come from McDonald's stores. A lot of that is from customer donations. Other houses in Dallas and Los Angeles report even lower percentages from McDonald's.

McDonald's does offer a small portion of its vast multi-billion dollar revenue philanthropically. Check out these comparisons from the aforementioned report's graphics:

Folks whose earnings exceed $50K annually donate an average of 4.7% of their discretionary income to charities; leading corporations donate 1.01% of their pre-tax profits; McDonald's pre-tax profit shares to charity comes in at 0.32%.

All the while, McDonald's revels in the spotlight as the most magnanimous corporation of them all, especially with the RMHC group stationing its millions of lodging beds throughout the world.

Ronald McDonald's name and image are attached to some other charitable functions as well. RMHC also offers mobile care centers, vehicles fitted with expensive medical equipment, which are externally adorned with large images of McDonald's cheerful clown.

RMHC also offers grants and college scholarships. Again, it looks like its all coming from McDonald's. But each page promoting those services has its own large donate button on it.

Then there are those "McTeacher's Nights" that add funds to local schools. School teachers volunteer their services for a night to replace the store's underpaid staffers.

This encourages parents to come in with their kids and chow down. The normal take for these nights amounts to around a dollar per student. McDonald's makes it out with more kids as future customers and a rosier image.

Compared to what McDonald's pays for advertising and lobbying to oppose legislative restrictions on advertising junk food to children, they're getting a free promotional ride through "charitable" activities.

Sources for this article include:

Michele Simon's abbreviated report:

Michele Simon's full PDF facts and figures report:

The local New Mexico RMHC site:

The international RMHC site that includes all its programs:

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