Chick-Fil-A Cuts Funds For Controversial Charities


Tyler Pelayo

According to late Chick-fil-A CEO S. Truett Cathy, the company “… should be about more than just selling chicken. We should be a part of our customers’ lives and the communities in which we serve.” However, due to controversies starting in the early 2010s, Chick-Fil-A will be ending funding arrangements with multiple religiously associated charities.

According to their company website, “Everyone’s job at Chick-Fil-A is to serve.” However, Chick-Fil-A will cease serving to charities as of November in light of protests from the LGBTQ+ community prompting the closing of a United Kingdom franchise location. Ever since the early 2010s, Chick-Fil-A has been faced with controversy with numerous charity cuts. These charity cuts are major developments in the more-than-half-a-decade long clash between Chick-Fil-A and both sides of the political spectrum. 

Richard Lam ’20 said, “The CEO made a bad decision, as it appears that he did not consult some advisors before he made these donations. I believe in any scenario you should try to steer away from politics, especially from a business perspective. It never ends well because of all the bottled up controversy that exists everywhere today.”

Truett Cathy, former CEO of Chick-Fil-A, built the Winshape Foundation after the success of his franchise. Since then, it has operated as a charity giving away tickets to sleepaway summer camps, team building program packages, private marriage retreats and donations to other charities.  In 2011, it cut charity funds to the Family Research Council, Eagle Forum and Exodus International, all conservative organizations facing backlash from the LGBTQ+ community, due to their stances on topics such as conversion therapy and abortion.

In 2012, Cathy stated in an interview that “Marriage was created by God as the union of one man and one woman.” Conservatives at the time interpreted the charity cuts the year before as Chick-Fil-A being bullied to submission by liberal politics. Delving deeper into their main website reveals the restaurant chain’s Christian roots: Chick-Fil-A is closed on Sundays, and its mission statement claims that the company exists “to glorify God by being a faithful steward of all that is entrusted to us and to have a positive influence on all who come into contact with Chick-Fil-A.” 

Now, Chick-Fil-A is pulling the plug on two more religion associated charities, the Salvation Army and the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. A public statement released shortly after these cuts stated “the [Winshape] Foundation will no longer make multi-year commitments and will reassess its philanthropic partnerships annually to allow maximum impact. These partners could include faith-based and non-faith-based charities.” According to Divya Sarma ’20, “They’re sticking to their values at their core. They’re making these cuts because they’re just tired of the protests. It really is too little, too late.”

Both the Salvation Army and the Fellowship of Christian Athletes have a troubled history with the LGBTQ+ community. There are reports of non-binary Salvation Army workers being withheld healthcare benefits, for instance. 

Again, Chick-Fil-A is receiving backlash from both conservatives and liberals on their charity cuts. Conservatives claim that these changes reflect the company’s submission to liberal cancel culture. Because Chick-Fil-A is a deeply Christian rooted brand, conservatives believe that these changes reflect the company prioritizing profits from appealing to liberals over its core values. Liberals claim that these changes are too little, too late. “I think that they need to make it clear about what their priorities are. It is absolutely important for them to respect everyone no matter their gender, sexual orientation, religion, race, or creed,” said Miguel Vivar ’20.  

Last November in a Reuters Foundation interview, a spokeswoman for Chick-Fil-A said, “We made multi-year commitments to both organisations and we fulfilled those obligations in 2018.” She claimed the company promised to focus charity efforts towards “education, homelessness and hunger.” Many cite this public statement as the company dancing around giving an apology. Some go as far as to say that no amount of charity shifts can repair the damage that Chick-Fil-A has done to the LGBTQ+ community. “For that reason, though some may believe Chick-Fil-A is doing it for profits, it is a decent start for them in treating everyone equally; but there is so much more work to be done,” said Vivar.

… its mission statement claims that the company exists “to glorify God by being a faithful steward of all that is entrusted to us and to have a positive influence on all who come into contact with Chick-Fil-A.”