Orwell Times: Corporate Beneficence

9 Jun

Corporate Beneficence, which was once limited to the rarefied realm of funding Opera Houses and Classical Music, has lately found itself immersed in a variety of ‘charitable’ activities to ‘advance’ human welfare.

As identity and consumption have become conflated, corporations have aggressively spent money on a variety of ‘charitable causes’ to reposition their brands.


“Apple has agreed to host music for an organization that uses African music to help people caught in the escalating ethnic violence in Darfur, Sudan.” MacWorld. Apple really understands its upper-middle-class pretend-liberal bourgeoisie customers, whose participation in liberal causes starts with Gay rights and ends with attending music concerts about Darfur, and never ever extends to any substantive political action. By the way, where is Darfur again?


The mission of Ronald McDonald House Charities is to “provide a “home away from home” for families of seriously ill children receiving treatment at nearby hospitals.” The other, better known, mission of McDonald’s is, of course, to get those children to be sick.


The company which has been accused of depleting groundwater resources in rural India and which earned a profit of nearly $5 billion in 2005 announced that it would invest “$20 million over five years to improve global water conservation. The plan is part of the company’s effort to adapt to global warming and to address a crucial constraint to growth in emerging markets.”


“Shell Foundation’s mission is to develop, scale-up and promote enterprise-based solutions to the challenges arising from the impact of energy and globalization on poverty.”

Beyond Petroleum
British Petroleum, the company that was once part of the Global Climate Coalition, an organization set up to promote global warming skepticism, and a company that is facing criminal charges for “allowing 270,000 gallons of crude oil to seep across the Alaskan tundra” (Wikipedia) is now ‘Beyond Petroleum’.

Crystal Geyser

The bottled water company is a ‘proud sponsor’ of “American Forests”.


Walmart, which has been widely decried for its low wages, inadequate healthcare benefits, and for ‘burying’ local mom and pop stores (pdf), and a corporation which had a net profit of close to $11.2 billion in 2005, had the following statement on its website, “Walmart charity begins with giving the local community financial support through community giving. Our community giving programs provide direct contributions to the local communities from the Walmart charity fund. Last year, Walmart charity initiatives were to exceed $170 million in support of local communities and non-profit organizations.”


The company sponsors a Charity Golf event. “The 2006 event raised more than $625,000, and over the past 13 years, I’m happy to report that this event has now provided more than $2.1 million to more than 48 local nonprofit charities.”

Bechtel Corp.

The corporation accused of trafficking women in the Balkans and myriad other charges of fraud in handling its contracts in Iraq generously helped fund an International Center at Stanford University.