2009 PR News CSR Award: Nonprofit/Corporate Partnership

The Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption and Wendy’s for Wendy’s Wonderful Kids

Wendy’s/Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption actively promote foster care adoption, and to focus the effort, the two organizations partnered to develop the Wendy’s Wonderful Kids (WWK) Program, which combines the fundraising of the Wendy’s restaurant chain, the grants of the Foundation and the talent of seasoned adoption recruiters throughout the country. The initiative’s aim was to raise awareness of foster care adoption among the general population while keeping the spirit of Dave Thomas, the founder of Wendy’s, in the hearts and minds of consumers by bringing attention to an issue he cared deeply about.

Like many nonprofit-driven efforts, the Wendy’s Wonderful Kids Program faced difficulty in raising funds when measured against real-world adversities such as hurricanes and earthquakes—overcoming donor fatigue was crucial. The WWK Program needed to raise funds in a simple way that would strike an emotional chord with consumers.

To communicate the foster care adoption message and motivate Wendy’s customers to drop their loose change into canisters near every register, the WWK team used in-store displays (i.e., posters, tray liners) and timely promotions. Also, the Dave Thomas Foundation tied the WWK effort to several high-profile events, such as the 3-Tour Golf Challenge on ABC, to raise awareness about foster care adoption.

From Sept. 1, 2007, to Sept. 1, 2008, the funds raised for WWK was $6,605,288. Of the 992 children served by the program, 353 were adopted. WWK program recruiters skyrocketed from seven in 2004 to 117 throughout the U.S. and Canada.