Franchisee Philanthropy

5 Franchisees share why giving back is a big part of their business

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Franchising is the new ‘mom and pop,’ and franchisees are small business owners who are actively involved in the communities they serve, providing much-needed support and making valuable contributions.

Take the following five franchisees for example. These five exceptional franchisees have gone above and beyond to support their communities through a variety of charitable endeavours, and here, FranchiseCanada recognizes the important work they’re doing in these communities across the country.

Ron O’Neil, Century 21, Barrie, ON

At Century 21 B.J. Roth Realty in Barrie, Ontario, charitable giving is a team effort. Whether they’re playing sports or cheering on the participants at Dancing with the Easter Seals Stars, Training & Recruiting Manager Ron O’Neil says he and his co-workers and agents have one goal in mind – supporting the Easter Seals children.

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“The Easter Seals initiative really came from Century21 Canada corporate that started back in 1979. There are so many opportunities to give back, but what really touched our hearts was the chance to send kids with disabilities to camp every summer. Our agents go to the camps to meet the kids, and they tell us that this is the most freedom they’ve ever had.”

O’Neil says going to the camps every summer and seeing the children have the time of their lives really pushes the team further in raising more money every year.

“We’ve hosted an annual golf tournament for the past 12 years, which has grown over the years. We also participate in the annual Paul Coffey Celebrity Hockey Tournament, and always send a team or two out to play,” says O’Neil, adding that there’s incentive to be the top fundraising team. “There’s one retired NHL player for each team, and the team that raised the most money gets first pick of the hockey heroes. All the players have huge hearts for these kids.”

A similar slo-pitch tournament featuring retired MLB players has been a recent hit, and agents pledge to donate $21 from each transaction to the cause. Initiatives like these allowed the B.J. Roth Realty team to raise more than $118,000 in 2016, and a total of more than $778,000 since 2003. The team has had the distinction of being number one in fundraising company-wide in Canada for the past three years, and is number three worldwide.

“We’re brainstorming new events all the time,” O’Neil says. “It’s hard work and a lot of hours put in, but we’re so passionate about what we do, and the end result for the kids is just amazing.”

Ashley Logan, COBS Bread, Kingston, ON

Ashley Logan may be new to the franchisee world, having operated her COBS Bread location for under two years, but she’s no stranger to the concept of giving back.

“I was in the military and posted to Kingston, Ontario. I had been a customer of COBS in B.C. and loved the brand and its products,” she explains. “I was looking for a new opportunity and it was a great fit.”

In addition to the bread, rolls, and sweets the company is famous for, Logan also appreciated that the charitable giving is baked right into the system. “We have 18 charities that we give bread to as part of our End of Day Giving program. Our partners pick up any remaining product each night and, in the morning, they distribute it to people in need.” Logan adds that this also means that products on her shelves are always fresh and never go to waste.

For the first anniversary of her COBS Bread location, Logan invited some of the charities involved in the program to come into her location to meet with locals and increase public awareness. “We picked one, St. Vincent de Paul, as a special fundraising recipient,” says Logan. “We donated money from buns we sold, and customers could donate as well. We raised $1,400 and were able to help them offer meals to families over the summer break.”

Logan views events like these as an essential part of running a small business. “It’s an absolutely positive experience for everyone involved,” she says. “Giving back is just a core value for me as an individual. It’s why I joined the military, to give back on a national level, and now I’m able to give back locally. If you don’t have that aspect, you just have numbers in a bank account, so it’s a lot more fun and rewarding this way.”

Kris Aiken and Laura Harris, Nurse Next Door Home Care Services, Toronto Central, ON

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Nurse Next Door franchisees Kris Aiken and Laura Harris were attracted to the company’s core purpose of making lives better. “Nurse Next Door is all about treating seniors with dignity and respect,” says Harris.

Aiken agrees. “We do happier aging, with an amazing customer experience bringing unexpected things into people’s lives.”

They empower their caregivers to go the extra mile, whether it’s encouraging a client who loves to cook to help in preparing meals, or fulfilling a dream that may have seemed out of reach.

“One of our caregivers, Janet, encouraged her client, Robert, to write his memoirs. She found out that he had trained with the Air Force during WWII and was disappointed that he hadn’t been able to fly again since those days,” explains Aiken.

He worked with Janet and the Dream On Seniors’ Wish Foundation to locate a Harvard plane, like the ones Robert had flown, and set up a time for him to get airborne. The whole event was captured on video. “It got so much traction in helping remove stereotypes about aging. This impact in the community is invaluable,” says Aiken.

Harris says that outreach is an important component. “Our office is open to the public, and any time someone can come in and ask a question. We’re centred around having a business that is good for us and good for the community.”

Aiken adds that they work with hospitals in their Toronto neighbourhoods to support seniors’ education days and, not forgetting younger generations, Nurse Next Door FC, an 11- and 12-year-old girls’ soccer team, was league champion this year.

Planning is already taking place to get another big dream off the ground. Says Aiken, “We’re fortunate to have the Dream On Seniors’ Wish Foundation to support. We want to keep collaborating on big stuff and keep going with those smaller things we do on a daily basis – making dreams, big and little, come true for seniors.”

Kyle Moffatt, Postcard Portables, Regina, SK

Postcard Portables franchisee Kyle Moffatt has not had an easy or typical start to his franchise career. In 2013, his father had left his media job and signed on with Postcard Portables as a way to stay in the advertising world. “Unfortunately, after a long battle with mental illness,” says Moffatt, “we lost dad to suicide and I took over the business.”

Moffatt made it his mission to advocate for change in the mental health system. “We were so frustrated about how it got to the point of losing dad. Advocacy and speaking out really helped, and so our family just moved in that direction,” he says.

Today, Moffatt does public speaking engagements and sits on mental health boards. He also puts his business’ products into service. “Our signs and advertising products are really attractive to non-profits. It means we’re not limited to just giving money as sponsorships.”

 In 2017, Moffatt and his team participated in more than 15 events with a mental health focus, in addition to coordinating their own initiatives.

“We have a saying, YANA, which means ‘You are not alone.’ That’s our message. My dad had said that he wished there was a big sign that said ‘You can do it’ that he could see every day. So, one of our projects was to plaster positive messages like this all over Regina. We got so much positive response to this project.”

Organizations across Canada are taking notice of Moffatt’s efforts, too – he was recently named a Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) Difference Maker, an honour that celebrates Canadians who are making a difference in mental health.

Moffatt credits his family, team, and franchise system for their support. “My background is not in business, and being part of a franchise offered me a level of stability, particularly during the toughest times. Having that community allowed us to do all this.”

Avtar Bains, Ricky’s All Day Grill, Surrey, BC

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Even before he became a franchisee, Avtar Bains knew exactly which charitable cause he wanted to help. Once he and his family took over as franchisees of the Ricky’s All Day Grill location at Central City Mall in Surrey, British Columbia, Bains jumped right into fundraising, as well.

“I knew any business I ran would have community involvement. You have to be more than just a business,” he says. “Back in the 90s, I was watching TV with my daughter, and the Variety telethon was on, and we all just knew we wanted to help those kids.”

Since 2006, Bains, along with his family and employees, hosts Variety Weekend every February at the restaurant, a fundraiser that coincides with the telethon, both benefiting children with special needs in B.C. and the Yukon.

“We donate $5 from every meal that weekend, staff donate their hours, and we donate prizes for draws. We get the Vancouver Canucks and B.C. Lions teams helping out, giving signed gear to raffle. Over the past 11 years, we’ve raised more than $110,000.”

Their event has grown into a much-anticipated community celebration. “The first year was a challenge – we blew up every single balloon by mouth because we didn’t have a helium tank,” Bains recalls. “Now, people know to come to Ricky’s Central City, not only on telethon weekend, but all year. It’s satisfying to see both the business and the event grow.”

Bains is quick to point out that the success of the event has been a grassroots group effort: the community supports it, his grown children always come to help out, and everyone at the restaurant pitches in.

“At the end of the day, philanthropy is my passion. My business gives me the mechanism to be able to do this,” he says, “and who better to support than our young people?”


By Lauren d’Entremont