In Defense of Philanthropy

Jul 15, 2015 by Dominic Trewick

“Chequebook philanthropy” is everyone’s favourite whipping dog, right about now. And in some ways, we at Karrikins are drivers of that particular bandwagon, as vocal proponents of strategically aligned, shared value creating community investment. But it’s worth putting a little bit of nuance into that position.

Philanthropy has a key role to play in our community portfolio; it just can’t be the only game in town. According to LBG data, about 25% of dollars currently spent in CSR/CI are classed as philanthropy. To me, ‘success’ is not making that number smaller – it’s just about making that number smarter.

Some causes and issues lend themselves to strategic investment – it’s not surprise, for example, that most companies’ portfolios include or focus on education, health, disability and employment. They are four big causes in the popular zeitgeist. But other causes – or smaller, more niche organisations focusing on ‘less famous’ parts of hose four causes – don’t lend themselves to huge, strategic partnerships. They live and die by the smaller, more philanthropic, more targeted funding. And no one is likely to ‘get famous’ supporting them.

It would be a massive shame to see some of these brilliant organisations be starved of support just because there is a shift towards more strategic, aligned and signature partnerships. It’s about companies having a balance in their portfolio, and never forgetting that some causes are good and right to support, simply because they are a good and right to support. …just don’t make them your only thing!

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