Sunday, October 24, 2010

When Charities Stumble Ethically

Ron Robins

It is strange that many Western charities still invest their funds in companies whose activities create the very difficulties they are trying to alleviate. But such problems can be minimised if charities create well designed ethical investment policies.

In a 2009 UK survey, the Charity Project and the Charity Finance Directors Group (CFDG) found that of its 164 member charities with investments over £1 million, 60 per cent had an ethical investment policy, while just 25 per cent of smaller charities with investments under £1million had one.

A prime example of the dilemma charities face without a strong ethical investment policy was exposed in a Los Angeles Times January 2007 article. It detailed an absurd situation that the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation found itself in. This foundation is probably the largest in the world and was founded by Microsoft co-founder multi-billionaire, Bill Gates, and his wife Belinda.

The Los Angeles Times stated that, “the [Bill & Melinda] Gates Foundation has poured $218m into polio and measles immunization and research worldwide, including in the Niger Delta. At the same time that the foundation is funding inoculations to protect health, The Times found, it has invested $423m in Eni, Royal Dutch Shell, Exxon Mobil Corp, Chevron Corp and Total of France — the companies responsible for most of the flares blanketing the delta with pollution.”
Read it all here.
For more on non-profits and ethics, go here.

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