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Where Do Fast Food Companies Donate Their Money?

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Clowning Sisters | Photo: punktoad/Flickr/Creative Commons License

Unless you've spent the last month living in the deepest recess of a cave on a planet outside of our solar system ... well, first, maybe check in with scientists, because I'm sure they'll have all sorts of questions for you. But secondly, your intergalactic abode means you have a legitimate reason for not knowing just how bad of a couple of weeks Chick-fil-A's had. While this round of outrage was started after COO Dan Cathy made some idiotic comments, it's kind of shocking it took so long for the anti-Chick-fil-A vitriol to go viral: It's been known that they've been donating money to anti-gay causes for years.

Through their WinShape Foundation 501(c)(3) non-profit organization -- started in 1985 by Chick-fil-A founder and S. Truett Cathy -- they've created scholarships for children, funded camps and retreats, and put on team-building exercises. Oh yeah, and also, they funneled a bunch of money to ultra-conservative organizations like Focus on the Family and The Marriage & Family Legacy Fund. So, the incendiary comments from the younger Cathy wasn't shocking insomuch as it caught everyone off-guard. It was just a perfect distillation of information that everyone already knew: Chick-fil-A hates the gays.

So, the question remains, are there any other fast food franchises that are teetering on the verge of controversy? Where do the other multi-billion-dollar fast food corporations donate their money? Is Chick-fil-A an outlier, or do they all have fiscal skeletons in their closets? Let's find out, shall we.

Burger King

BK's largest donations go towards their own non-profit The Have It Your Way Foundation, which focuses on giving college scholarships to restaurant employees, children of employees and/or high school seniors. Part of that money also goes to the Family Fund, a program that gives money to employees who experience hardships like natural disasters or personal injury.

Wendy's

Wendy's owner Dave Thomas was, himself, an adopted child, so it's not surprising that his company focuses on that cause. Through The Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption, they try to inform folks about "the misconceptions" of adoption, "assist" policymakers and employers (which is a phrasing that makes it seem like they're a bunch of mob enforcers), and work to ensure that every child "finds a forever home."

Taco Bell

The Taco Bell Foundation for Teens is all about the high schoolers. Their vision: To "reach 100,000 teens annually through real-world experiences and help cut the high school dropout rate in half by 2018." More importantly, they have Mark Wahlberg as an "ambassador," so you know they're not messin' around.

McDonald's

One of the most famous non-profits around, the Ronald McDonald House is still doing as best they can to help sick and/or injured children. In 2010, they opened up their 300th Ronald McDonald House in St. Louis.

Subway

On a yearly basis, Subway's employees choose the ten charitable organizations they donate to. 2011 saw the company give to Doctors Without Borders, Feed the Children, Susan G. Komen for the Cure (which, yes, controversy!), UNICEF, Save the Children, The Jared Foundation, Make-A-Wish, American Red Cross, American Cancer Society, and the American Heart Association.

Domino's Pizza

The Domino's Pizza Partner's Foundation is pretty similar to the above-mentioned Family Fund at Burger King, as in, the point is to help employees who are undergoing a terrible hardship, whether it's an on-the-job injury or a natural disaster.

Arby's

The Arby's Foundation has itself a goal of ending childhood hunger in America. To do so, they contributed over $2 million to the folks at Share Our Strength last year.

In-N-Out

Since 1986, the California-based burger company has been focusing their attention, via
the In-N-Out Burger Child Abuse Foundation, on trying to end child abuse. This means providing "residential treatment, emergency shelter, foster care, and early intervention for children in need."

Pizza Hut

Last year, Pizza Hut's Share a Slice of Hope program brought in almost $2 million that they sent away to World Hunger Relief to help feed hungry children abroad. In more understandable terms, that $2 million translates into over 8 million meals.

KFC

Back in 2010, KFC got themselves in a bit of a non-profit kerfuffle after the Susan G. Komen for the Cure folks tried to do some cross-promotion. (Although that vitriol was more focused on the people at Komen -- a sign of things to come -- rather than KFC.) Since then, they've focused more on their KFC Colonel's Scholars program, which awards more than 50 high schoolers a year with a $20,000 college scholarship.

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