Saving threatened habitats worldwide

What is the problem with Charity Awards?

17 May, 2012 - 12:12 -- John Burton

Readers of my blog will possibly be aware that I am not a fan of awards. So how come I was present at the Business Charity Awards? Black tie, razzamatazz, and all that.  Well the reason was that a corporate supporter of the World Land Trust (WLT) was shortlisted for two of the awards.

My criticisms in the past have been about charities getting awards, as that is not what the donors fund the charities to do they fund charities to do charitable things. Also, the selection process for charity awards is seriously open to criticism since so often one is comparing apples with pears.

But if a business wants to go in for an award, I don’t have any serious objections. There are clear and obvious business reasons for entering, since it is very likely to help grow the business. I certainly hope that is the case for Miko Coffee, whose Puro Fairtrade brand won the award for Cause-related Marketing with the World Land Trust and were also shortlisted for the Affinity Marketing award with the WLT.

This is how I found myself, in black tie, at Grosvenor House in Park Lane last Tuesday evening. I was with representatives of Miko Coffee, who had just returned from taking some clients to our project in Brazil where we have helped fund a nature reserve to protect the Atlantic Rainforest and are supporting reserve rangers through the Keepers of the Wild programme. They were full of enthusiasm and had lots to tell me about their experience in Guapi Assu Reserve.

Interestingly, none of the other charities working with the business community had anything to do with wildlife and/or the environment. Also, most of the companies (unlike Miko Coffee, which is a family owned business) were large public limited companies (plcs), such as Barclays, HSBC, Tesco, Network rail, Sainsbury’s, Travis Perkins, and Zurich Insurance. So the percentage of their income they were giving to the charity was miniscule compared with what WLT receives from Miko Coffee.

It would be interesting to have awards for the companies that are most generous in their support of charities! Or perhaps it would make an interesting tabulation to publish in Third Sector, the magazine that is one of the sponsors of the event.

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