Companies should not give to charities, says marketing chief

Donations could make charities 'dependent and subservient'

Businesses should not give money to charities because their customers do not want them to, according to senior marketing man Chris MacLeod.

He was speaking at a debate called ‘Should companies give more money to charities?’, hosted by the Marketing Society’s Not-for-Profit Group.

MacLeod is head of marketing at Transport for London, but was speaking in a personal capacity.

He said giving money to charity was anachronistic and could make charities dependent and subservient.

If customers wanted their money to be given to charity, they would choose the charity and make a donation directly, he said.

"Charitable giving is a personal act," he said. "This should not be another thing that is taken over by big business."

He concluded that businesses that did want to support charities should find new ways of working in partnership with them.

Richard Harrison, director of research and insight at the Charities Aid Foundation, said the notion of businesses giving money to charity did not reflect the sophistication of the sector. "The conversation should go beyond giving money,' he said. "Gifts in kind are far more valuable."

But Paul Farthing, high-value relationships director at Cancer Research UK, said businesses had a lot to gain from giving money to charities. "Companies want to share in our values, passion and energy," he said. "But they are massively underpaying for this because they want to do it on the cheap. Businesses should give more money to charities, not less."

  • In a previous version of this story Chris MacLeod's name was incorrectly written as Chris McLaren. Apologies.

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