Save the Children: corporate sponsors help save lives

The charity defends itself from claim it refrained from criticising its backers

Save the Children on Tuesday defended its record on working with corporations, saying it was pursuing an “innovative and revolutionary” strategy of engaging with big business to save young lives.

The charity, which is one of three NGOs whose business practices were criticised on Tuesday night in a BBC Panorama documentary, reiterated a denial that it had drawn back from criticising existing or potential commercial donors and said it was seeking to “harness the power of the private sector”.

Save the Children, one of Britain’s largest and most respected NGOs, has been accused by a whistleblower of refraining from attacking energy companies because of its relationship with British Gas, which donated £1.5m to it during a 10-year partnership.

Internal emails also suggested senior managers were concerned at criticising price rises by the French-owned EDF at a time when the charity was on a shortlist for funding from it worth £600,000 over three years.

The charity strongly denied the claims and highlighted its partnership with the pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline as evidence of how large companies can work effectively with NGOs beyond the traditional model of cash donations.

The company is working with Save the Children to convert a mouthwash into a disinfectant gel to prevent newborn babies dying of infection – a major cause of infant mortality in the developing world. In a letter to The Independent, the charity’s chief executive, Justin Forsyth said: “Save the Children would never not campaign on an issue because of a corporate partnership.

“We are a very ambitious organisation working to cut the number of children dying from preventable illnesses, and by harnessing the power of the private sector we can achieve a lot more than we’ve ever done before.”

The charity said it recognised the need for transparency in its partnerships but added it had stringent safeguards in place to ensure its independence.

It said it had increased corporate donations from £6m in 2009 to £19.6m last year but this  represented less than 10 per cent of its total income.

Comic Relief said yesterday it would be reviewing its investments strategy following the revelation that it had invested money in tobacco, alcohol and arms firms – all sectors where the charity is pledged to work to relieve damaging effects on human life.

The charity, which works closely with the BBC, said its investments with large funds who had in turn bought shares in companies such as BAe Systems had been approved by the Charities Commission but added it would now reconsider whether to place money with ethical funds which had been shown to outperform the general market,

Kevin Cahill, Comic Relief’s chief executive, told BBC News: “We would clearly be keen to be in ethical funds if they match other funds and that is something we will look at.”

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Sarah Silverman (middle) with sister Reform Rabbi Susan Silverman (right) and sister actress Laura Silverman (left) at Jerusalem's Western Wall for feminist Hanuka candle-lighting ceremony
peopleControversial comedian stages pro-equality Hanukkah lighting during a protest at Jerusalem's Wailing Wall
Arts and Entertainment
The Bach Choir has been crowned the inaugural winner of Sky Arts’ show The Great Culture Quiz
arts + ents140-year-old choir declared winner of Sky Arts' 'The Great Culture Quiz'
Life and Style
food + drink
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Finance Director

£65000 - £80000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Finance Director required to jo...

Recruitment Genius: Medico-Legal Assistant

£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a unique opportunity fo...

Ashdown Group: (PHP / Python) - Global Media firm

£50000 per annum + 26 days holiday,pension: Ashdown Group: A highly successful...

The Jenrick Group: Quality Inspector

£27000 per annum + pension + holidays: The Jenrick Group: A Quality Technician...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas