Our Relationship with McDonald’s

Our Founding and Forever Partners

Image of Hands making Heart Shape with McDonald's logo

Monetary and Beyond

The first Ronald McDonald House opened on October 15, 1974, in Philadelphia, thanks to Dr. Audrey Evans and Philadelphia Eagles’ player Fred Hill. Fred’s daughter, Kim, had leukemia, and as a result of their experience with the illness, they took the opportunity to provide a place for families who may need to travel to give their own children the highest level of care. The McDonald’s owner/operators in Philadelphia made the first House possible by donating proceeds from the sale of Shamrock Shakes. McDonald’s had one request – that the house be named after their favorite clown, Ronald McDonald.

McDonald’s is an RMHC Founding Mission Partner, and Ronald McDonald House Charities has been McDonald’s ‘charity of choice’ since 1974. McDonald’s restaurants are a significant partner in the development of all Ronald McDonald Houses around that world; however, each Ronald McDonald House is independently operated and develops their own relationship with their local McDonald’s restaurants.

The McDonald’s Corporation provides a license agreement allowing each Ronald McDonald House to use the trademarks of the Corporation. Each Ronald McDonald House is run by its own Board of Directors, creates its own mission, and develops their own budget and fundraising process. Each Ronald McDonald House is responsible for creating its own fundraising relationship with their local McDonald’s owner/operators.

Forever and Founding Partners

Our relationship with McDonald’s is complicated. They are our founding and forever partner and we are grateful for their ongoing support, but contrary to popular belief, they do not provide all of our funding. In fact, local restaurants provide less than twenty percent of our total operating funds.

Local McDonald’s restaurants support RMHC of South Dakota by providing financial help for specific projects or events, volunteer and in-kind support. They also provide their customers with a chance to donate through change canisters and the Round Up program; rounding your transaction up to the nearest dollar to support local Ronald McDonald House Charities.