The downside to charitable corporate donations

Think About This Thursday

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I have always been a big fan of companies that donate to charitable organizations. There are companies out there making millions upon millions of dollars and individuals that are homeless and starving. Businesses  bringing in record profits and environmental causes that are struggling to find funding. So, why would corporate donations ever NOT be considered a good thing? I recently came across an article in the NY Times that really opened my eyes about this topic. Once a corporation has made a donation to your cause, should they have a say in how you run your program?

My husband and I honeymooned at the Grand Canyon…one of Mother Nature’s most amazing creations and an extremely crowded state park. Thankfully, we went in November which meant very small crowds but in the peak of summer, The Grand Canyon National Park gets about 5 million visitors every year…and those 5 million visitors leave a lot of TRASH behind…of which almost 30% is from plastic soda and water bottles. Last year, the ‘powers that be’ in charge of Grand Canyon policies and such decided to BAN plastic bottles from the park. Great idea! Cut back on the expense of trash removal, better for the environment, what could be wrong with that right?

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Well, apparently Coca-Cola, one of the park’s big donors, convinced the National Park Service to block the bottle ban. Since Coke had donated more than $13 million to the parks, they had the financial backing to pretty much tell those Grand Canyon policy makers what they should and should NOT be banning from the park. Simple math…ban our products and we pull any further donations to your park. Money talks and the ban was never enacted.

This is but ONE case of major corporations using their charitable donation dollars to effect policy making…from the White House to the National Parks. Whether it is big energy companies making donations to a politician’s run for office or a beverage manufacturer making donations to a charitable organization, it all comes down to one simple thing…money is a powerful motivator. Financial donations to an organization give that donator power.

Don’t lose hope yet! I came across a great program called Ban the Bottle that takes aim at eliminating disposable water bottles everywhere! Learn how you can start a campaign in your community! Since we the people can’t be influenced by corporate donations, I guess we will just have to rely on grass roots efforts to reduce plastic waste in our  own communities. At least until the National Park System decides it doesn’t need Coke’s millions any more.

What do you think about corporations and their charitable donations? Are they made with a true passion for the cause or are these companies strictly looking to put their money where they can have the most influence?


7 thoughts on “The downside to charitable corporate donations”

  1. Very interesting topic. Sadly, lobbying is rampant everywhere. According to the NYT article, the park sells about $400k worth of bottled water annually, so I’m sure that revenue is a big factor too, although the proposed ban was limited to smaller bottles so I’m not sure how much of their sales a ban would have impacted.

    It’s a shame that we’ve gotten to a point where bottles have to be banned to solve the problem – I wish people would be more mindful of the waste they create and clean up after themselves in the first place, you know what I mean?


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