In the Name of Charity

Food is a common instrument in fundraisers and charity events, but companies often exploit products and consumers to boost sales. Raising money is usually just a side effect from these campaigns.

One such example is Ethos Water. "For each bottle of Ethos Water purchased, $0.05 will be donated towards Starbucks'... commitments towards humanitarian water programs by 2010." Last time I checked, Ethos Water was selling for $1.85 at Starbucks. From the almost $2 "donation", only 2.78% is actually going to provide clean water to the designated countries. I'm no mathematician but that's not a very generous amount. 

Recently, KFC partnered with Susan G. Komen for the Cure to raise money for breast cancer research. For every Pink Bucket purchased, KFC will make a $0.50 contribution to the cause. A bucket of fried or grilled chicken is about $9 so 5.6% of the cost actually goes to the further research. That's a more commendable effort but fat-laden hormone-injected chicken for breast cancer research? Talk about an antithesis! 

While I'm glad corporations are committed to charitable efforts, they're so frequently lost in the quest for larger profits even in the name of charity. I'm certain there much more effective ways to help those in need instead of using overpriced and unhealthful food to lure donations.  

Update: My food politics heroine, Marion Nestle, also wrote about KFC's breast cancer research promo. Click here to read her commentary about this oxymoron-ic campaign. 

Photos from ethoswater.com and kfc.com


delwin said...

But then again, they need to make "money" I guess a small charitable amount is better than nothing if selling a lot

Terry said...

I see it as kind of a scam...these companies know that some people will see that this is a charity and buy thinking they are doing good. In the end the company selling the product may do much better than usual in sales. There are groups that have made lots of money with "charities"...how often do you hear on the radio ads that are very expensive for "charities". Someone is making money. I understand that only 10% has to go to charity to be considered as a charitable organization. Too bad so little often goes to those in need. Salvation Army is a good one...they give over 80%.

Elizabeth Lee said...

@ Terry: I agree. Companies are companies, and no matter what, their existence depends on profits. On the other hand, charities should be more selective about who they partner with so that they can maximize the proceeds.

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