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Interview by BBC Phillipa Hudson

Carol Adelman

Phillipa

For more insight into the world of corporate charity, I turn to Dr. Carol Adelman who produces the Index of Global Philanthropy for the Hudson Institute here in Washington.

I asked her if companies give to enhance their names.

Carol

Well, I dont for one minute think that the companies arent interested in their image, but I do think, though, that philanthropy is considered by all a good thing to do. I think that CEOs and company employees want to help people, and not only through the products they produce, but in ways that will really help these growing pandemics that weve seen, and I think a lot has to do with just the rise of AIDS and pandemics and tsunami disasters that has really brought out the caring in corporations and employees.

Phillipa

Lets put some figures on this, could you compare for us the level of private giving here in the United States, say compare it to what the government does?

Carol

Well, yes, surprisingly, people dont realize that the United States gives three and a half times greater in its private philanthropy, including remittances that our migrants send back, than our government aid. So this is a very startling fact, and I think thats because Americans give overseas the same way they do domestically more through their private institutions. Whereas Europeans are more likely to give through their governments internationally the same way they give domestically.

Phillipa

If we say thats a good model to have, is there not though a danger, a flaw inherent in it, in that in times of recession or economic downturn, perhaps the first thing that a company is going to lose is its charity, is its giving?

Carol

Well, you know, its interesting if you look at the flows; the private philanthropy flows, and you look at private investment and government aid, youll actually see some of the private philanthropy and remittances are much more steady flows. They have less fluctuation than private investment that responds to global recessions and Asian investment crises and all of that. So remarkably, the philanthropy and remittances going back are fairly steady and growing every year.

Phillipa

Just a final thought, do you like the idea of creative capitalism, do you think its a good concept to come up with?

Carol

Well, Im all for creative capitalism and we document these examples in our Index of Global Philanthropy, and there are wonderful ideas, such as cause related marketing. This is when companies like Starbucks and the Red campaign will donate a percent of their profit to charity. Also banks are now learning to set up bank accounts for poor people, so they can earn interest and get credit ratings. So corporations and foundations are doing phenomenal things, and I think that this is wonderful and its underway. And its a whole new age of donors, some have called it, dubbed it, venture philanthropy or philantro-capitalism, so its an exciting vista we have in front of us.

Phillipa

Carol Adelman speaking to me just a little bit earlier.

Carol Adelman on BBC World News

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