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?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Senior Accounts Assistant - Accounts Payable - St. Albans

£26000 - £28000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: Senior Accounts Assistan...

Ashdown Group: Treasury Assistant - Accounts Assistant - London, Old Street

£24000 - £26000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, glo...

Recruitment Genius: Installation and Service / Security Engineer

£22000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is part of a Group...

Recruitment Genius: Service Charge Accounts Assistant

£16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you a a young, dynamic pers...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence
Public relations as 'art'? Surely not

Confessions of a former PR man

The 'art' of public relations is being celebrated by the V&A museum, triggering some happy memories for DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef succumbs to his sugar cravings with super-luxurious sweet treats

Bill Granger's luxurious sweet treats

Our chef loves to stop for 30 minutes to catch up on the day's gossip, while nibbling on something sweet
London Marathon 2015: Paula Radcliffe and the mother of all goodbyes

The mother of all goodbyes

Paula Radcliffe's farewell to the London Marathon will be a family affair
Everton vs Manchester United: Steven Naismith demands 'better' if Toffees are to upset the odds against United

Steven Naismith: 'We know we must do better'

The Everton forward explains the reasons behind club's decline this season
Arsenal vs Chelsea: Praise to Arsene Wenger for having the courage of his convictions

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Praise to Wenger for having the courage of his convictions