Chick-fil-A’s CEO has said that the restaurant chain “inadvertently discredited” many faith-based organizations when it announced last year that it was adjusting its corporate giving last year. The admission came in a December letter to a Christian organization.
"As you have seen, recently we announced changes to our giving strategy at the Chick-fil-A Foundation. These changes were made to better focus on hunger, homelessness and education," said Dan T. Cathy in a letter dated December 5, 2019.
“We understand how some thought we were abandoning our longstanding support of faith-based organizations. We inadvertently discredited several outstanding organizations that have effectively served communities for years,” he added.
The letter, addressed to American Family Association president Tim Wildon, made clear that the company’s Corporate Purpose, “to glorify God by being a faithful steward to all that is entrusted to us. To have a positive influence on all who come in contact with Chick-fil-A,” would not be changing.
“Let me state unequivocally: It is not,” said Cathy.
In November 2019, the Chick-fil-A Foundation announced that it would restructure its commitments to charitable organizations. The Foundation would be giving a large grant to Junior Achievement, Covenant House International, and food banks located near new Chick-fil-A locations.
Notably, the new giving strategy did not include donations to the Fellowship of Christian Athletes or the Salvation Army, two faith-based organizations that had previously received multi-year grants from the Chick-fil-A Foundation. Both organizations promote the Biblical view of marriage and sexual relations and have come under sustained public criticism from LGBT campaigners. The November decision by the foundation was widely interpreted as a move to distance Chick-fil-A from that criticism.
The Salvation Army responded to the announcement at the time, saying they were “saddened to learn that a corporate partner has felt it necessary to divert funding to other hunger, education and homelessness organizations — areas in which The Salvation Army, as the largest social services provider in the world, is already fully committed.”
The Salvation Army said in the statement that a large number of the 23 million people they serve each year are part of the LGBT community, and that “we believe we are the largest provider of poverty relief to the LGBTQ+ population.”
The statement also condemned “misinformation” regarding the organization’s work, and that they serve everyone in need, regardless of their sexual orientation, religion, or gender identity.
In the letter to Wildon, Cathy affirmed that Chick-fil-A would still give to religious charities in the future.
“Chick-fil-A will give to faith-based and other organizations that we believe to be highly effective in a particular area,” he said, adding that “grant recipients will likely rotate” each year.
Franchise operators are still able to donate to the charitable organization of their choice, “at their discretion,” said Cathy.
“We have been entrusted with much to share and the needs are great,” he said.