Hot Issue: Should charities care about the motivations of their funders?

The Private Equity Foundation is giving £5m to charity. Critics say it's an attempt to save a tarnished reputation; supporters say it will improve young people's lives.

Paul Maloney, National Organiser, the GMB Trade Union

The GMB is a supporter of many charities and community events. Many of our members benefit from charities, and we support the principle of charitable work.

But we believe that charities should not accept donations from companies that use them to bolster their public image. If charities don't vet the origins of their money, they could be condoning hardship in other areas of the community by accepting donations from companies that compound the problem of poverty.

We believe that venture capitalist company Permira, one of the investment firms responsible for the new charity the Private Equity Foundation, caused hardship to our members, then attempted to mend its public image by giving donations to charities. When the company took over the AA in 2004, we calculated that 3,400 staff were made redundant. In January, Permira announced the closure of a Birds Eye plant in Hull, with the loss of 600 jobs. Through the greed of such companies, our members are faced with unemployment, frozen pensions and serious hardship.

Would an addiction charity accept a donation from a drug dealer? I am sure it would not.

Max Weaver, chief executive, Community Links

The charities to benefit are involved with families, the community and children, and we want to work with informed and committed donors, not just accept cheques. It is clear to us that the Private Equity Foundation is determined to understand the work of the charities it considered.

We went through a rigorous application process, providing detailed plans to ensure that the funding would make a real difference. The foundation clearly takes its giving very seriously and its determination to focus on us, the charities, rather than on PR, shows its motivation is to help those who need help.

Public funds and individual donations alone will not enable us to meet need, and corporate philanthropy can make a real difference. The motivations of corporate funders are not always easy to discern, but the desire to give something back is a strong driving force. The foundation's approach provides a discipline that is entirely appropriate. We should encourage more such benefactors, not vilify them.

This was written jointly with Benita Refson, chief executive of Place2Be, and Gill Astarita, chief executive of Volunteer Reading Help.

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