Corporate Philanthropy

Chick-fil-A has recently come across my newsfeeds even though it’s not too new that Chick-fil-A has been supporting things like Focus on the Family. The existence of this knowledge brings about a question. What is my relationship to the philanthropy of Chick-fil-A? One college voted to remove Chick-fil-A from the campus.

My gut reaction is that corporations should strive to be more value neutral. There are causes I believe in which might seem divisive or disagreeable to others. Specifically, I think evolution must be taught in schools and I think educating each other is the highest value. Educating people is a really touchy subject because what is important about education is different to different groups and none of us want to be brainwashed. I don’t want to learn about homeopathy; Liberty University wants people to learn fake science.

Since even education is so mired in controversy, I expect many forms of giving to be even more divisive. If you support women’s health, can you avoid supporting abortion options? If you support marriage, can you avoid supporting domestic partners? I don’t think a corporation can in such a way that they create more sales than they would have generated had they kept their corporate giving to themselves. On the other hand, if a company must give, those donations and any specific details about grants being funded should be disclosed blatantly like a moral Surgeon General’s warning so we can tell what we’re supporting.

Philanthropy is important. I think that should come from individuals only. If 100% of Chick-fil-A’s employees support Focus on the Family but Chick-fil-A as a company gives $0, then I am morally satisfied to purchase their tasty food products. However, if Chick-fil-A donates 10% of their profits to a charity, I must suppose that I am being charged 10% over market value for their food in order to support their ability to give. And in that situation, I must evaluate my support for their charities.

People should give even if it means you are donating to support things I find abhorrent. Corporations should not so that I can buy their products on the basis of their business and product quality without considering whether they are run by people with matching values. I won’t be eating at Chic-fil-A for the time being. And as more companies like Chic-fil-A come to my awareness, I will trim down my purchasing habits accordingly.

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