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IFA Foundation: Looking Beyond

By Mary Heitman

This article was originally published in the July issue of Franchising World. You can read it and other Franchising World articles here.

More than any other business model, franchising is about empowerment. Think about it. We don’t hire an employee to run a location; we find and empower a franchisee to make it their own. We believe in people and put our faith in them time and again. Each new franchisee creates a small business owner, who then trains their own team to be the best they can, and one day an enterprising franchise employee can become a franchisee in their turn. Franchising is truly the pay-it-forward sector.

For 35 years, the Foundation has stood side-by-side with IFA and the incredible women and men who make up the franchise community. Our job at the Foundation is to empower you. Looking back from the milestone of this anniversary, there’s so much to be proud of. Young entrepreneurs from all over the world pour their passion and hard work into the NextGen Global Competition, becoming a virtual pipeline of talent into our community. Franchising is a leader in charitable giving, volunteering and making a difference in virtually every community around the country. Through the VetFran program, veterans and their spouses are finding a new sense of purpose and putting to good use their unparalleled leadership abilities.

The story of the last 35 years is one worth knowing, but the story is not finished, and empowerment is always about the future. As you read the amazing stories in this issue and as you turn the page to learn about our Excellence in Franchising Campaign, I want you to join me in looking ahead to the future of franchising. It will be a future with state-of-the-art education and it will belong to those who commit themselves and their teams to lifelong learning. It will be a future powered by the next generation of entrepreneurial ideas and the talented young women and men who pursue them. Many of them may find that passion as employees or interns at your company. It will be a future where franchising creates opportunity in every community and our message and impact are felt nationwide, from rural communities to urban ones, on military bases and on college campuses and around the world. It will be a future where our contributions are fully understood, researched and communicated to everyone from policy makers to prospective franchisees. It will be a future that you and your company will help to define, and the IFA and the Foundation will be there to support you.

Looking ahead to that future and the next 35 years of the IFA Foundation, we ask that if you share our optimism, energy and commitment to making every program better, every initiative smarter and every project more impactful – join us. Empower the Foundation’s ambitious agenda for innovation and growth of our programs, education and research, and help us make our community the best it can be. Help us through our recently launched Excellence in Franchising campaign, the details of which can be found below.

Mary Heitman is President of the IFA Foundation. Learn more about the Foundation at