- Chick-fil-A Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Chick-fil-A, has changed its structure and committed $9 million for education, homelessness and hunger initiatives in 2020, according to a press release. The organizations it plans to give to include Junior Achievement USA, which offers K-12 programs; Covenant House International, which helps with homelessness; and food banks in locations where a Chick-fil-A opens.
- The company will no longer donate to organizations like the Salvation Army, the Fellowship of Christian Athletes and the Paul Anderson Youth Home, which have anti-LGBTQ views, according to Bisnow.
- "There's no question we know that, as we go into new markets, we need to be clear about who we are. There are lots of articles and newscasts about Chick-fil-A, and we thought we needed to be clear about our message," Tim Tassopouls, Chick-fil-A's president and chief operating officer, told Bisnow.
The shift in its philanthropic structure comes after months of negative media attention regarding anti-LGBTQ stances of The Salvation Army and Fellowship of Christian Athletes. The company maintains that those donations went toward a youth camp at FCA and The Salvation Army's Angel Tree program, which provides kids in need with Christmas presents, and were not related to either organization's stances on the LGBTQ community, according to Bisnow.
But these donations were enough for several airports to bar the chain from new sites and a landlord of its first U.K. location to not renew its lease beyond six months.
The company's giving structure will no longer have multiyear commitment, as it had with these previous organizations, and the fast food chain plans to reassess its partnerships each year, according to the press release. While the company could still give to faith-based and non-faith-based organizations, none of the organizations will have anti-LGBTQ positions, according to Bisnow.
It seems this news is unlikely to impact its loyal customer base and how they perceive the brand, and could have a bigger impact on those that have refused to eat at the chain. It could also lessen the pushback the company has felt when it opens new locations since there will likely be fewer protests by gay rights groups, which ultimately led to the U.K. landlord to not renew its lease in Reading, England.
Negative press can be problematic for chains, as it was with Papa John's following John Schnatter's racist comments during an investor call that led a free-fall in sales, especially for franchisees. The company only now has started to recover minus Schnatter at the helm and new marketing campaign feature brand ambassador and board member Shaquille O'Neal.
Chick-fil-A, which has about $10.5 billion in sales, is keen on growing globally, and already has 15 units planned in Canada over the next five years. It costs millions to expand abroad, which could be very expensive for the chain if it it ends up being rejected by the local community, so the company will need to continue to shed any past negativity if it has any chances to make it big elsewhere.