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McDonald’s bogus charity image: Who’s really funding the Ronald McDonald Houses?

Corporations have long used philanthropy as a public relations vehicle, an easy, non-controversial way to deflect attention from bad practices. Accused of systemic racial discrimination? NBD. Just follow Coors’ lead and repent with a donation to the offended minority group. Worried that your product’s reputation is being tarnished by its toxicity? No problem. Take a page from the Philip Morris playbook and distract your consumers with expensive television commercials about all the philanthropy you’ve been doing – feel free to spend more on advertisements about it than on the charity itself. But even in a world where this kind of corporate giving has become the norm, McDonald’s has, as usual, gone the extra mile to be totally, completely, and brazenly shitty. In "Clowning Around with Charity," a recently released report from Eat Drink Politics, Corporate Accountability International and Small Planet Fund, Michele Simon details the myriad ways McDonald’s uses its so-called philanthropy programs to paint itself as an ally to children’s health and education, all while widening its customer base on the cheap and doing relatively little actual good.

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