Donatos Family Foundation to Focus on Positive Community Change

The foundation is "about taking what is in our heart and making it actionable," said Donatos executive chairwoman Jane Grote Abell.

  • The Donatos Family Foundation will promote positive change in communities served by the brand around the country.
  • Its first partner will be Habitat for Humanity, and the organization will also team up with food banks and local hospitals.

 Related: Donatos brings on largest minority-owned franchise partner

Donatos, the fast-casual pizza chain with 377 locations in 22 states, has established the Donatos Family Foundation to promote sustainable change in the communities it serves around the country.

The foundation will “create synergies with franchise partners and form a permanent connection between the Donatos brand and the goodwill that it promotes in local communities,” according to a press release.

Donatos was founded by Jim Grote in 1963 on two core principles: leading with love and treating others the way he wanted to be treated, the company said.

“I was raised watching my mom and dad model the idea of loving your neighbor and treating others the way you wanted to be treated, so our family built our giving strategy to reflect our values,” said Jane Grote Abell, executive chairwoman of the board and chief purpose officer at Donatos. “Giving more than we receive is woven into our culture, and continuing the Donatos family legacy of giving back supports our mission to promote goodwill through our product, principles, service and people.”

“The Donatos Family Foundation is all that and more,” Abell continued. “It is planned. It is intentional. It is strategic. It is focused. It is not about being swept up in the moment and writing a check. It is about making a commitment and being in it for sustainable change over time. The Donatos Family Foundation is about taking what is in our heart and making it actionable.”

Donatos aims to “influence communities with love and compassion and offer families life-changing opportunities” by partnering with local organizations that represent three pillars: housing, hunger and health.

Habitat for Humanity is Donatos’ first partner. Through early May, Donatos has pledged to raise at least $100,000 for the nonprofit housing organization, and all money will go back to the local Habitat chapters in the communities where the money is raised.

“Each of the three pillars (housing, hunger, and health) will have a designated time frame during the year so that there is a singular system-wide focus,” according to the press release. “While there is an overarching emphasis with each pillar, the fundraising efforts will always go directly to positively impact organizations at the local community level.”

Along with Habitat for Humanity, Donatos will partner with food banks like the Mid-Ohio Food Collective and local hospitals. The brand has also supported organizations that lift people out of poverty, such as the Reeb Avenue Center, which helps struggling community members in Columbus, Ohio, build self-sufficiency and transforms lives through education, job training and local job growth. Dubbed “A Hub of Hope” and viewed as a national model of multiple organizations coming together under one roof to provide help, Reeb Avenue Center was co-founded by Grote Abell with Tanny Crane, CEO of the Crane Group.

“Donatos has been on a mission to change lives for the better since their founding, and being a national franchise provides the perfect opportunity for them to make positive changes in communities across the country,” said Todd Rogers, a multi-unit Donatos franchise partner for more than 25 years. “The Donatos Family Foundation is the perfect way to make our core value of giving back come to life and I’m proud to represent a brand that truly cares about making a positive impact in communities nationwide.”