2011 - desperation in corporate philanthropy?

18 March 2011 | By Cause4 staff

The Financial Times informs us that Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt is to send handwritten letters to a number of FTSE 100 chief executives in a bid to coax corporate investment into the arts and ‘offset culture budget cuts’. As part of his drive to make 2011 the Year of Corporate Giving, Mr Hunt wishes to encourage companies to integrate the arts within their social responsibility agenda.

Whilst in principle the idea of greater corporate involvement in the arts is a good one, the approach seems just a little desperate. Besides, philanthropy is a choice freely made. What donor will give merely because Government tells them to? And as Deloitte’s Heather Hancock recently suggested in The Evening Standard, charities will benefit when a ‘genuine partnership’ can be formed. This requires us to understand why and how a company might choose to engage and to consider how their potential involvement will support corporate values and progress strategic business priorities. Images of square pegs and round holes spring to mind.

Moreover, while the need to sustain the arts during times of upheaval is important, we are perplexed as to why Mr Hunt appears be overlooking the rest of his portfolio. Would not community sports organisations equally benefit from increased corporate philanthropy? Or is this simply an attempt to quieten the vociferous arts lobby?

In the meantime we shall see how our Captains of Industry respond.

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