In fitting with our growth, last year JFE proudly added a new function to our marketing and communications department, Corporate Citizenship. If you’re familiar with corporate public relations, at least the kind you see in the news, you’ve noticed that large companies no longer limit their public faces to advertising. Most have now embraced partnering with a charity or non-profit organization.
Corporate citizenship can take many forms. The ways companies can now give back to the communities they operate in range from sponsorship of public events benefitting that charity or giving a percentage of the sales of a specific product. Employees even volunteer on their own time or through a joint event with the company’s non-profit of choice. For instance, in previous editions you may have seen photos of our educational outreach. Another direct, tangible way we can give back to neighbors in need is, simply put, through cash (the more refined term is “corporate giving”).
More than just enhancing a company’s image, corporate citizenship also allows a company’s employees to feel connected to a worthy cause. So choosing the right one is important because it needs to excite the team.
In that spirit, we’d like to tell you about our chosen charity partner, how we picked them, and update you on our progress—in this case to individual children in need around the world. As more than 50 of our new franchisees have learned personally, the partner we’ve chosen is Smile Train. This New York-based organization provides free cleft lip and cleft palate surgeries for children around the world; they’ve performed more than a million since their founding in 1999.
Cleft lip or palate is a congenital (from birth) condition where there’s a perforation either in the lip and/or in the roof of the mouth connecting to the nasal cavity. In addition to the stigma associated with a child looking different, it can also result in feeding problems and speech and hearing issues.
Annually more than 170,000 children in the developing world are born with a cleft lip and/or palate (or about one to two per 1,000 births). According to Smile Train, in some countries people with untreated clefts aren’t even allowed to attend school and find it hard to get a job.
Cleft lip surgeries are generally performed in an infant’s first few months, but cleft palate surgeries can be done safely up to 18 months. With the help of doctors who donate their time and talent, Smile Train can fund a surgery for just $250.
We chose Smile Train, first, because they help children around the world and many of our chefs come from abroad. But we also loved the idea that in our service-based business we ask our chefs to smile at every guest, and Smile Train restores that very ability to so many children who might not otherwise receive it.
What we’ve been able to do with Smile Train is an achievement we share with our Snowfox franchisees because your contracts made it possible. Smile Train helps us tie our giving to a specific store opening. So rather than simply donating annually in a lump sum, we give a portion of each franchise’s licensing fee directly to Smile Train to fund an individual child’s surgery. Since we measure our own success one store and one small business family at a time, this system is perfect for us. We know that with each new contract, not only does the chef franchisee and his or her family contribute economically to their community, but somewhere in the world we’ve changed one child’s life. As of this edition of The Standard Snowfox had donated the cost of 53 surgeries, more than $10,000!
Next we’re looking at ways we can tell customers more about our values through our work with Smile Train. So we’re considering a dedicated month in which we donation a portion of the sales of a specific menu item. Guests would be notified on point-of-sale (kiosk) signage of their opportunity to contribute by buying that item. We can’t think of a better way to strengthen the bond between you and your customer while giving back to kids in need!