The most controversial subjects surrounding Kroc Centers nationwide are those of financing and financial operations. Half of the Kroc grant money received by each location must be used for construction of the facility, and the other half must go into an endowment to fund operating expenses, according to the Salvation Army. In addition, chosen communities must raise private money to further seed the donation or pay for operating costs.

In Omaha, for instance, the Kroc Center received a $60 million grant, with $30 million used on construction and $30 million going into the endowment. The community had to raise an additional $15 million, which it did, resulting in an endowment of $45 million. The Omaha Kroc Center’s annual operating budget is estimated at $3.5 million to $4.5 million, of which the center itself must provide approximately $2 million per year. The center does this via membership fees, program fees, rental income and private grants and donations.

In Boston, Kroc Center fees have come under fire for being too high for the income levels of the population surrounding the center, and in Salem, OR, the local newspaper reported that the Kroc Center stepped up fundraising efforts and was forced to cut operational costs in the wake of a membership decline of 44 percent between 2010 and 2011.

The Salvation Army national headquarters will say only that membership dues levels and local fundraising efforts are undertaken by the local centers themselves and/or at the direction of one of the Salvation Army’s four regional headquarters.