Corporate partnerships with non-governamental organisations (NGOs) to deliver international aid are on the rise. This is good news for those of us who know the history from early 60s on the 1% GNP aid target developed nations endorsed at the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) and the Development Assistance Committee (DAC). Private contribution to that target has been forgotten and only the 0.7% government aid target is talked about nowadays.
Despite the lack of connection with the history on overseas development aid (ODA) targets, businesses are increasingly financing aid projects either through their CSR arms or their foundation arms. This is the case with C&A, a fashion retail company that currently operates in Europe, Brazil, Mexico and China. Still operating as a family business, C&A charitable engagement dates back to Clemens and August Brenninkmeijer, the two brothers who founded the clothing retailer C&A in 1841. The first record of a gift can be found in the personal ledger of August who, only months after founding the company, recorded a donation “to the poor”.
Nowadays, Porticus is the international organisation that manages and develops the philanthropic programmes of charitable entities established by Brenninkmeijer family entrepreneurs. Whilst, C&A Foundation, affiliated to global retailer C&A, is an independently-funded philanthropic organisation focusing in transforming the apparel industry.
Amongst its transformation efforts, C&A Foundation is committed to transparent operations. So much so that it has become the first European foundation to sign up to Glasspockets, a Foundation centre initiative that champions philanthropic transparency and encourages foundations to improve openness in their communications.
Such a commitment to transparency translates at every level, including in the routine evaluation of their programmes and the publication of results. Isabela Souza, our Principal Consultant, had the pleasure to be the Team Leader in their evaluation of the Global Humanitarian Partnership with Save the Children. It was gratifying to see that not only the full report was published, but also an Executive Summary, where the Foundation have stated with their own words the lessons they have learned.
While publishing evaluation reports is a common practice to international aid programmes financed by governments, it is rare in the case of corporate foundations. We hope other corporate aid programmes will follow this example of best practice.