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The Melting Pot Kicks Off 20th Annual Thanks and Giving® Campaign Benefiting St. Jude

The 94-unit fondue franchise is rewarding donations with Donate and Dine cards through the end of the year with hopes to raise over $1 million.

By Morgan Wood1851 Franchise Contributor
SPONSOREDUpdated 4:16PM 11/02/23

The most wonderful time of the year — at least for the Melting Pot team — is here: St. Jude’s Thanks and Giving® Campaign. For the 20th year in a row, The Melting Pot is partnering with St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital to collect donations that support life saving research to find a cure for childhood cancer. This year, Melting Pot guests receive a $20 Donate and Dine card with a $10 donation to St. Jude or a $20 Donate and Dine card with a $40 donation. The campaign runs through the end of the year and is both incredibly meaningful for St. Jude families and a fun, community-focused mission for Melting Pot teams across the country.

“With Melting Pot, I was able to tour the hospital, and I’ve been deeply inspired by that. Seeing the facilities and meeting some of the patients and their families creates a clear connection between the hard work we do and the benefit it has for so many people,” said Alexander LaBracke, a Colorado franchise owner. “The research hospital is such an impressive operation, and everyone you come into contact with there are the most genuine, caring people you’ll ever meet. The fact that we get to be a part of something that’s so much bigger than fondue… it’s easy to be inspired.”

This year, the entire system is working to go even bigger. Last year, it surpassed the million-dollar mark — a major milestone for everyone involved.

“We saw monumental donations last year,” said Collin Benyo, franchise growth strategist. “We promised that if we hit $1 million in donations, we would shave Bob Johnston's head. He was happy to do it, and it was fun to see everyone across the system rally to benefit the kids of St. Jude.”

Having raised over $16 million for St. Jude over the course of its 20-year partnership, The Melting Pot consistently ups the ante each year, and this year should be no different. Earlier this year, the franchisor was recognized with St. Jude’s Corporate Pioneer Award, a recognition of a partner who has demonstrated a strong commitment to the St. Jude mission and serves to pave the way for other corporate partners.

In addition to its annual commitment to the Thanks and Giving Campaign, The Melting Pot has consistently driven visibility for the partnership year-round, promoting online donations at any time; launching Forever Fondue, Forever St. Jude, its open ask promotion associated with the summer menu launch; and widespread participation in St. Jude Walk/Runs nationwide.

The award is just a step along the way for The Melting Pot, as the system has big plans for continued contributions to St. Jude and aims to increase its goals each year.

Driven by healthy competition at the unit-level and strong encouragement from the leadership team, everyone from CEO Bob Johnston and franchisees to part-time staff members get deeply invested in the mission and work to raise as many funds as possible to support childhood cancer research.

“We make it competitive in our store, so we break the staff into four teams, and the team that raises the most by the end of the campaign gets to go on an overnight incentive trip,” added LaBracke. “We have a nightly winner, too. Even on the busiest nights when everyone is running around and the shift seems like a blur, if a team member gets one of those big donations —- $350 or even $800, the word spreads, and everyone knows about it within a minute or two.”

While LaBracke recognizes the value of incentive trips and other in-store competitions, he said that his location’s success really does come down to the passion that the team members have for the campaign. Conversations about the upcoming campaign begin in mid-October, and many team members view the start of the Thanks and Giving Campaign as the start of the busy season.

In addition to the traffic increases that accompany the holidays for some concepts, The Melting Pot will see a spike in reservations and inquiries specifically regarding the campaign.

“The guests know we have goals and want to help us with them,” added LaBracke. “We have guests that will call to ask, ‘Have you started St. Jude donations yet?’ or ‘When does Thanks and Giving start? I want to make my reservation so I can be a part of it.’ That excitement from everyone in the restaurant can drive us right through a busy dinner rush.”

Top-performing stores have been able to generate about $100,000 in donations, and LaBracke noted that, each year, the entire system gets excited leading up to November 1st knowing that the remainder of the year will be a whirlwind of holiday cheer, charitable giving and teamwork to reach a shared goal.

“Being able to share my passion for the cause with the team and lead by example has been very important,” explained LaBracke, “but it’s an easy cause to be passionate about. We’re all inspired, and we all understand that this is much bigger than any of us — we’re doing this for the kids.”

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