Wendy’s Believes in Giving Back

by Elizabeth Drake
Dec 1, 2016 10:45 AM ET

Editor's Note: The Square Deal welcomes Elizabeth Drake to the blog.  Elizabeth began her Wendy’s career 3.5 years ago in our IT Finance department and now works in Communications where she manages The Wendy’s Company charitable and community engagement strategy.  She serves on our cause marketing and Frosty 5K committees and is the communications lead for Wendy’s young professional employee network, WenGen. 


Our founder Dave Thomas believed everyone has an obligation to put back into life more than what they take out.  With that in mind, Wendy’s was founded with the belief that a company should do more than just sell a product or service.  We believe in giving back to our local communities and continuing Dave’s legacy, which is why Give Something Back is one of our brand’s core values.

We’ve mentioned before that foster care adoption is our brand’s signature cause and that the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption is our brand charity of choice.  We also understand the importance of giving back to our local communities through volunteerism, and we know there are several causes in our communities that are deserving of our time and support. 

When I started working in Wendy’s communications department last year, I assumed the responsibilities around our employee volunteerism program that we aptly call Wendy’s Week of Service.  Wendy’s Week of Service happens twice a year and it gives our employees the opportunity to take time out of their work day to volunteer.  We do this for a week in May and a week in November, which happen to be National Foster Care Month and National Adoption Month, respectively. 

We recently completed our November Week of Service. In our central Ohio hometown, we partnered with 14 local organizations to Give Something Back. Their work focuses on serving critical needs in our community, including foster care adoption; youth and family support; hunger and food integrity; and building a vibrant community where we live and work.

In addition to work outside the office, we also offer onsite volunteer opportunities. We had 250 employees come together onsite to stuff 10,000 bags with home fire preparedness materials for the American Red Cross, decorate and fill 200 Kids Activity Packs for the Homeless Families Foundation, and make more than 600 brown bag lunches for the homeless at the Columbus Community Shelter Board.

Participation was at an all-time high this year, which is a big part of what makes managing this program so rewarding.  We had more than 500 employees participate (nearly 70% of our Dublin, Ohio-based employees), from interns to each member of our Senior Leadership Team, and together we spent 1,070 hours volunteering.  The U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics calculates each volunteer hour as having a $23.07 cash equivalent, so with that in mind, our employees put $24,685 back into our community.  Well done, Wendy’s!

After Wendy’s Week of Service, this year we also engaged our employees in #GivingTuesday.  Celebrated on the Tuesday following Thanksgiving, #GivingTuesday is a global day of giving inspired by the power of social media.  To do our part, we brought together our employees (free popcorn and Frosty desserts helped!) to celebrate the start of the giving season. We wrote holiday messages, stuffed the cards with Wendy’s gift cards, and donated them to OSU Star House, a drop-in center for homeless youth in our community. 

The hardest part of my job is when I have to say no. There are hundreds of worthy charities that do great things every single day, and I wish we could support them all.  But by increasing awareness of foster care adoption, fundraising for the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption, and driving a successful (and still growing!) employee volunteerism program, we hope Dave would be proud of the way Wendy’s continues to Give Something Back.

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