Eat A Cheeseburger, Give to Charity

Tomorrow is the final day of the annual McDonald’s “Give a Hand” fundraiser, which raises money for Ronald McDonald House Charities (RMHC). Besides making an in-restaurant donation, McDonald’s has added an online component, that includes a daily sweepstakes with a $500 daily winner.

Also, there’s a widget on Facebook that encourages families to spend time together that will also raise money for RMHC, with a goal of $1 million $10,000.

RMHC benefits local children’s charities, provides in-hospital family rooms for children to be with their parents when they’re sick and recovering, and provides other help and services for children and families as well as scholarships and grants.

This is the total opposite of the reputation that McDonald’s has as a company selling unhealthy food that contributes to the country’s childhood obesity problem and that it (and other fast-food chains) targets children with advertising.

PRNewser asked Jessica Rau, manager of US communications for McDonald’s USA about these divergent messages.

First, she emphasized that RHMC and Ronald McDonald House are separate from the restaurants, which is something that a lot of people don’t know.

“You have to educate people and that’s part of our job in PR,” she said. Besides being separate entities, she said at McDonald’s “we feel very proud of the food we serve. There’s something on the menu for everyone.” And the company and its charitable organizations have a “longstanding partnership.”

“I don’t see it a huge gap because we’ve been such a huge partner,” she added.

In an interview with Maria Bartiromo published in USA Today, McDonald’s chairman and CEO Jim Skinner addresses a variety of issues that McDonald’s has faced as well as the company’s success, which he attributes in part to speed and affordability.

“It’s not my job to get up in the morning and prescribe to people what they eat, but I should give them a choice that makes them feel good about their decision and, more importantly, fits into the appropriate nutritional guidelines for them,” he says.