How to use your business to make a difference

How to use your business to make a difference

hands photo-1470116945706-e6bf5d5a53ca.jpgA franchise owner opens his wallet—and heart—to help his community. Here’s a look at how one person’s willingness to step up can benefit your town, too.

A recipe for success that focuses on fun.

That’s the theme of Reed Mattingly’s community service activities in Columbia, South Carolina. When Mattingly opened his first Rainbow International franchise in 2009 (he now owns three), he didn’t simply want to run a business. He contacted Ronald McDonald House and offered his expertise.

The result? The annual “spring fling cleaning” that brings together volunteers who provide painting, repairing, power-washing and landscaping services. The local Ronald McDonald House serves 350 families annually. Mattingly wants to ensure that loved ones of children undergoing cancer treatments have a pleasing, restful environment.

His goodwill hasn’t stopped with the local Ronald McDonald House, which is near Palmetto Health Children’s Hospital. Mattingly’s volunteerism with the Palmetto Health Foundation Board sparked the idea for the annual Rainbow International Charity Golf Classic and Auction.

“We hold an annual charity golf tournament to help young moms fighting late-stage cancer,” Mattingly says. “Our committee picks three ladies; most have very young children. The medical bills are crushing so the money helps,” he says. The event began with one family in 2010. To date, 14 families have received a total of more than $240,000.

“Giving the money is important,” he says, “but what’s better is the lasting positive feelings from the community that we are all fighting this thing together.”

A bittersweet time for beneficiaries

The posh event “rolls out the red carpet for the families,” Mattingly says. “Each family has an unlimited number of golf carts, so they ride around the course. There are sponsors, tents with a massage therapist, food and drinks, and pictures with the kids goofing around that we post on Facebook. It’s amazing.”

Mattingly says the tournament—which sells out every year—is a “great, uplifting experience,” one with lasting effects. Although in many cases the patients lose their battle with cancer, “we can keep in touch with the families, and they come back the next year to support others,” he says.

The overflow of business success

How does Mattingly rally support from his 30 employees?

“As a team, their day-to-day work affords us the wherewithal to raise money in the community,” he says. “From the support of technicians, accounting and sales, you string it all together, and we’re a successful organization. That’s why I love being a franchise owner. If you follow the system, it allows you to do the things that are important to make a difference in people’s lives.”

Staffers tell Mattingly that the charitable work is one of the most meaningful things they do all year. They are proud to give back, he says.

Spreading goodwill

Mattingly says other franchisees can replicate that altruism. “You may not be close to a Ronald McDonald House, but you can explore [holding] a golf tournament or something else. Franchise owners can be the mechanism to show support for their community,” he says. “Right now, for us, it’s children’s hospitals, so that’s what we’ll continue doing.”

Other franchisees have asked Mattingly how they can do something similar.

“If you don’t know where to start,” he says, “write down one sentence about your passion and what you want to do.” The only requirement is that “you call someone who has already done it” and get their recipe for success, Mattingly says.

Reflecting on his contributions, he says: “When I’m old and sitting in a rocking chair thinking of all the things I’ve done wrong—and right—in life, I’d like to think I’ve made a difference in the lives of these kids. It’s a big deal.”

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