I have a question. One that might get some people upset with me.
Is it really a terrible thing for a charity to accept donations from evil corporations?
Over the past few years there have been increasing protests of Big Arts Institutions that accept donations from Big Oil. And don't get me wrong, I am not interested in anything that helps Big Oil. (Nor, to be honest, am I particularly concerned about these Big Art, with their multi-million dollar endowments and corporate structures. They'll be fine.)
The argument against accepting these donations always seems to boil down to the fact that you are helping the evil org rehabilitate its image in the public. People now associate them with pretty art or feeding poor babies instead of environmental destruction or slave labour.
My questions to this are: do they really? And what would happen with that money otherwise?
I suspect that the answer is to the first question is, "a medium-ish amount, depending.
The second question, though. What would happen otherwise?
Let's just say that every single charity and benevolent organization in the world decides to divest of unethical or anti-environmental money.
I see two major impacts: first, the charities have sudden gaps in their budgets and either have to scramble to find other funds or reduce their staff and work. Meanwhile, Big Evil just got more profit. Maybe the boards and executives of those companies get extra money in their pockets (that may get partially diverted into personal donations or put into multiple luxury yachts or trust funds for their children) or maybe they decide to reinvest the profits in company operations, making them even more effective at their work. Maybe they increase their marketing budget to run feel-good campaigns or maybe they hire more lobbyists to make sure public policy favours them.
So basically, the charities get weaker while the evil corporations of the world actually get stronger. That is the opposite of what we want! Whereas, if the charities take that money, at least some of the evil gets turned into social good. (Maybe we do this at the same time as we dismantle the legal framework that allows them to be evil in the first place???)
Honestly, I'm not arguing everyone should start taking title sponsorships from Esso. I am also completely into personal (or company)-sized protests--of saying, "I know this won't change the world, but I can't stomach being a part of what this company does so I won't buy their products/take their money."
In terms of measures of good or harm for society, though? It seems like, so long as these companies exist, taking their money is a net positive.
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