Chick-fil-A Foundation changes charitable giving and controversy follows

Discussion
Source: Facebook/Chick-fil-A
Nov 19, 2019
George Anderson

Where you stand on LGBTQ rights may or may not color your view of Chick-fil-A. What is clear is that the growing fast-food chain, which has closely aligned its business operations with its Christian values since its founding in 1967, has become a symbol of controversy in recent years for statements made by its current CEO opposing same-sex marriage.  Now, the chicken chain is inviting more controversy after announcing a new corporate giving plan that will exclude two organizations known for their opposition to same-sex relationships.

The two groups — The Salvation Army and the Fellowship of Christian Athletes — were recipients of multi-year giving programs from the Chick-fil-A Foundation, the chain’s not-for-profit philanthropic wing.

Chick-fil-A Foundation changes charitable giving and controversy follows
Photo: Chick-fil-A Foundation

Going forward, the foundation plans “a more focused giving approach” to support a smaller number of organizations working to improve education and end homelessness and hunger. Chick-fil-A will give $9 million in 2020. One beneficiary will be Junior Achievement USA, for its work with more than five million kids a year in grades K-12. The company is expanding its partnership with Convenant House International to reach out and save the homeless, runaways and victims of human trafficking. Chick-fil-A will also donate $25,000 to 120 local food banks when it opens new locations around the country.

Based on reactions on social media, many supporters of same-sex marriage say (perhaps with tongue-in-cheek in some instances) that the popularity of Popeyes’ new chicken sandwich has caused Chick-fil-A to court consumers it previously offended when CEO Dan Cathy went on a Christian radio program in 2012 and said, “We are inviting God’s judgment on our nation when we shake our fist at Him and say, ‘We know better than you as to what constitutes a marriage.’” 

Calls for a boycott of the chain began after Mr. Cathy’s comments, but have not appreciably slowed Chick-fil-A’s expansion in new markets around the country.

Chick-fil-A’s decision to adjust its giving has drawn criticism from some of the same people who championed the chain in 2012. 

Former Arkansas governor and Fox News personality Mike Hukabee wrote on Twitter, “In Aug 2012, I coordinated a national @ChickfilA Appreciation Day after they were being bullied by militant hate groups. Millions showed up. Today, @ChickfilA betrayed loyal customers for $$. I regret believing they would stay true to convictions of founder Truett Cathey. Sad.”

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Do you think Chick-fil-A has made the right decision with its publicly announced focus on charitable giving? Is there anything else the chain should or should not do, since it has become a lightning rod on the issue of LGBTQ rights and conservative Christian beliefs?

Please practice The RetailWire Golden Rule when submitting your comments.
Braintrust
"Chick-fil-A’s current problem vividly demonstrates the potential dangers to brands when they take positions on 'moral' issues in an increasingly polarized world. "
"Personally, I think Chick-fil-A has a right to support who or what it wants. Consumers also have a right to boycott the chain, or not, based on what it supports."
"Yes, they could support whoever they wanted. I as a consumer can go wherever I want. To quote Ronald Reagan, “trust, but verify.”"

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18 Comments on "Chick-fil-A Foundation changes charitable giving and controversy follows"


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Neil Saunders
BrainTrust

Personally, I think Chick-fil-A has a right to support who or what it wants. Consumers also have a right to boycott the chain, or not, based on what it supports. In a country where freedom of speech and thought is prized, that’s the way it should work.

That said, I do lament the fact that everything seems to have become so political and controversial. I just want a chicken sandwich. I don’t want it served with a dose of moralizing from either side!

Adrian Weidmann
BrainTrust

Amen to that!

Brandon Rael
BrainTrust

We need a standing ovation GIF for this comment!

Al McClain
Staff

The problem, of course, is that a chicken sandwich from Chick-fil-A has always included a dose of moralizing.

Bob Phibbs
BrainTrust

Sorry Neil, unless you are part of the LGBT community I don’t think you understand what their impact is. It’s not just a sandwich is a sandwich. It’s saying it doesn’t matter what a business does that might affect my kids or my relatives or my community as long as I get a deep fried chicken sandwich that I like. Sorry we as a society need to be past 1960s thinking.

Neil Saunders
BrainTrust
Well, I am — so without wishing to be impolite, your point is a bit moot. The LGBT community is not one big homogenous block that thinks alike; there are different views and opinions on this matter and many others. My own view is this: In a free society, everyone is entitled to their views and to express them as they see fit. In turn, everyone is then free to choose how they respond to such opinions which, in the case of reactions to corporations, may include boycotts and protests. No one is permitted to use physical force or the threat of force against anyone else. That is the only framework that guarantees proper rights for all. In the specific case of Chick-fil-A, I think its CEO’s comments are ignorant and ridiculous. I would happily speak out against them and put alternative views. But I do not find it necessary to boycott a chain because of what the CEO thinks or says. Ultimately, his words have no real power: mainly because the same freedom that… Read more »
Bob Phibbs
BrainTrust

Sorry, I wasn’t speaking about you personally. And the same here. But words do have consequences — especially in this day and age. More importantly, money has consequences as well. If I found the money I spent at corporation X was providing grants for non-profits that advocated conversion therapy, for example, I would be enabling that behavior. My patronage would be tacit approval of the same. Agreed, nothing is universal, and we still agree on 99% of the retail world. On this one, a draw.

Ed Rosenbaum
BrainTrust

I agree. All I care about is what I go in to buy, not the company’s beliefs unless they become too offensive.

Rick Moss
Staff

Part of the disconnect I see in some of these remarks is caused, I think, by the distance we feel from the management of big corporate enterprises, like a national fast-food chain. I consider the argument this way, instead.

If the guy who runs the falafel shop down the street is behind the counter saying he hates Jews, I’d surely decide not to shop there. If my barber expressed to me that he believes gay people shouldn’t have the right to marry, I wouldn’t return. Should I feel differently if the top management of a large chain expressed views I found abhorrent?

Suresh Chaganti
BrainTrust

What Chick-fil-A does is their prerogative. Purely from the brand credibility perspective, this comes across as trying to correct the perception and doesn’t come across as credible.

But I think it will be a short-lived controversy, and attention will soon be back to which chicken sandwich tastes better.

Brandon Rael
BrainTrust

Our expectations of brands and fast-food restaurants have become outrageous. Once upon a time, customers were happy with a quality sandwich or salad, at convenience, and if it were a good experience they might come back for more. Now companies are expected to being open and transparent about all their policies, have to stand for a greater purpose beyond their brand proposition.

Chick-fil-A could support or contribute to whatever charitable organization they choose to. Just as companies have every right to support which charities they want to align with, consumers could absolutely choose which companies they want to remain loyal to.

With that said, Chick-fil-A and other companies should be cognizant of any downstream impacts of supporting polarizing charitable organizations.

Bob Phibbs
BrainTrust

Yes, they could support whoever they wanted. I as a consumer can go wherever I want. To quote Ronald Reagan, “trust, but verify.” As retailers like Starbucks, Target, and Nike have proven that being more inclusive is good for business I don’t know why anyone would continue to support any business that wasn’t looking out for the greater good.

Rich Kizer
BrainTrust

Neil, there is nothing more to say than your comment.
In America, that is the way it should work. Thanks Neil, for a great comment.

Lee Peterson
BrainTrust

I heard they’re having a hard time recruiting creatives from places like NYC and LA, even with exceptional pay and benefits. Which seems fitting, but not good for the “restaurant of the future” notion.

In the end though, to me, it’s their call as to what they want to stand for. They should just be aware that a large percentage of people can quickly become informed of their stance, especially if it’s 1500s thinking, and act accordingly. And why bring that on? So to me, they need to cool it on the ridiculous statements and ventures (even with charities) and just do what they do best: sell a zillion chicken sammies for everyone.

Ryan Mathews
BrainTrust
Chick-fil-A’s current problem vividly demonstrates the potential dangers to brands when they take positions on “moral” issues in an increasingly polarized world. If they held the traditional line, they would be under constant attack from the LGBT+ community, its supporters, and other progressive critics. If it changed positions, as it did, it becomes the target of certain evangelicals, the right-wing media, and some percentage of its existing customer base. Put more simply; damned if they did, damned if they didn’t. They were, and are, in a literal no-win position. One can assume the chain’s corporate morality ran afoul (sorry) of its commercial interests. Having gotten itself in this position my advice would be to “stop digging” by going silent for six months or so, at least on this issue. It’s not the most effective strategy but, sadly, that ship has sailed. The only other viable option is to hold the new line, but drop discussions of “God’s judgement.” By continuing to cast this decision in religious terms they alienate the Religious Right while continuing to… Read more »
Doug Garnett
BrainTrust

From things I hear, Chik-fil-A is also getting tremendous pressure from constituents’ wishes. After all, companies don’t become this big without having a great many LGBTQ and LGBTQ-respecting employees.

They picked two good organizations to use to make a statement — but also seem to have decided they needed to be so dramatic that they’re poking the tiger in the eye with those who are loyal to Chik-fil-A for some kind of “connection with the founder’s values.”

And… This is why highly public moral stances are rarely smart (regardless of the side of the issue they come down on). The company always sets itself up for far bigger problems in the future — and rarely has the moral impact they wish they had.

Craig Sundstrom
Guest

My first and maybe only question is, why is a sandwich shop taking a position on marriage in the first place … it hardly seems an integral of the service they provide.

Beyond that, if they’re privately owned — and my apologies for not even having bothered to answer the question myself, so maybe let’s call this general advice — it’s their business who they give money to. If they’re a public company, then they should leave the proselytizing to the pulpit.

Rich Duprey
Guest

Giving in to the mob never works. Already Chick-fil-A is being criticized by those it kowtowed to. It’s said if CFA was truly sincere, then they would be donating to LGBTQ organizations. You will never satisfy your critics regardless of where they are on the political spectrum.

CFA’s actions also implicitly suggests that the Salvation Army is now a controversial organization unworthy of charitable donations. Will they next be driven from in front of storefronts during the holidays?

The fact is, Dan Cathay’s comments were never about CFA as a company, but his own personal beliefs. CFA also does not discriminate based on gender or sexual identity, so this entire controversy is based on an incorrect factual foundation.

CFA can donate to whatever charities it chooses, but giving in to social media rage mobs will never give you the acceptance you seek.

wpDiscuz
Braintrust
"Chick-fil-A’s current problem vividly demonstrates the potential dangers to brands when they take positions on 'moral' issues in an increasingly polarized world. "
"Personally, I think Chick-fil-A has a right to support who or what it wants. Consumers also have a right to boycott the chain, or not, based on what it supports."
"Yes, they could support whoever they wanted. I as a consumer can go wherever I want. To quote Ronald Reagan, “trust, but verify.”"

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