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Something to Believe In for Franchising Gives Back Winners


Shannon Wilburn, center, CEO of Just Between Friends with five of her franchisees and at far right, a recipient of charitable efforts at the pop-up consignment event franchise. She received a gold award at the Franchising Gives Back event September 9.

Just Between Friends was founded with giving back as a key component of the franchise model, noted its co-founder and CEO Shannon Wilburn at last night’s Franchising Gives Back awards event in Washington, D.C., “but we didn’t do a good job of measuring it.”

“You have to talk about it and you have to measure it” to build a charitable culture that is sustainable and has impact, said Wilburn, who accepted a gold award from the International Franchise Association Foundation and participated in a “fireside chat”with other gold award winners at the event. 

Just Between Friends hosts pop-up consignment events, and donates items “left over” after the events to charities of each franchisee’s choice, for example, for people affected by the California wildfires last year. 

Four more gold winners were honored at the event for their charitable activities: At Sonic, for putting donations in the hands of public school teachers for their classroom needs. At Goldfish Swim School, for funding the Make A Splash initiative to teach more children to swim. At Sport Clips, for supporting wounded service members recovering at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. And at Applebee’s franchisee The Rose Group, for supporting childhood cancer research.

Andrew McCuiston, president of Goldfish Swim School, said Goldfish has committed to raising $1 million over the next five years for the USA Swimming Foundation. “Our cause is saving children’s lives and teaching them to swim,”he said after accepting the award. 

Jason Rose of The Rose Group said picking his group’s charitable focus, which has now expanded through the entire Applebee’s chain, “was pretty easy.” They contribute to Alex’s Lemonade Stand, started by a young girl and her parents and working to end childhood cancer. “If you’re in a room with them it’s almost impossible not to give to this organization,” he said, and he advises other franchisees to do the same.

“Find something you really, really believe in. It’s finding the thing that resonates not just with yourself but with your people.”

Franchising Gives Back participants have contributed $347 million to their local communities during the five years of the program. Franchise Times, the program’s media partner, profiled the winners selected by the IFA Foundation in the September issue. Established by a donation from Roark Capital Group, Franchising Gives Back salutes the best community leaders and charitable programs in franchising nationwide.


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The latest news, opinions and commentary on what's happening in the franchise arena that could affect your business.

Laura MichaelsLaura Michaels is editor of Franchise Times. She can be reached at 612.767.3210, or send story ideas to lmichaels@franchisetimes.com.
Beth EwenBeth Ewen is senior editor of Franchise Times. She can be reached at 612.767.3212, or send story ideas to bewen@franchisetimes.com.
Nicholas UptonNicholas Upton is restaurants editor at Franchise Times. He can be reached at 612.767.3226, or send story ideas to nupton@franchisetimes.com.
Mary Jo LarsonMary Jo Larson is the publisher of Franchise Times Magazine and the Restaurant Finance Monitor.  You can find her on Twitter at




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