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Charity spending reaches last year’s record level

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Czech companies earmarked CZK 750 million to support charitable organisations this year, reaching again the record-high sum spent on this way last year.

In absolute figures, the energy giant ČEZ leads the latest TOP corporate philanthropist ladder by a large margin. As in 2007, the company spent more than CZK 240 million on charity this year. The bank Česká spořitelna ranked second and the cosmetics and health care company Johnson & Johnson came third on the ladder compiled by the Czech Donors Forum.

But unlike ČEZ, Johnson & Johnson provided one-third of its profit to organisations specialised in health protection. And that is the largest sum in proportion to gross profit among Czech businesses.

Based on this criterion, cosmetics producer Oriflame occupied the second place, followed by the consulting giant KPMG. By contrast, ČEZ with less than 1% of profit spent on charity did not even make it to the top ten.

“The amount of financial resources within the ladder is basically the same as it was last year, and we are happy about that. The Czech Republic is therefore at the top among former eastern block countries in terms of social responsibility,” said Pavlína Kalousová, the director of the Czech Donors Forum.

In the past five years, domestic companies provided an injection of more than CZK 3 billion into the non-profit sphere.

To pay and to help

Companies develop the trend started last year. Apart from philanthropy, in other words distributing money among non-profit organisations, businesses have focused on new types of support and introduced complex programmes for the so-called social responsibility.

“In our volunteers programme, there are more than four hundred employees involved now including the top management,” said Jitka Chocová of T-Mobile. This year, the mobile operator will focus on environmental projects and sustainable development, she added.

Adriana Krmáčová of Johnson & Johnson says: “We simply think that is it useful, and will carry on doing that even though we will probably not avoid the current financial crisis either. I don’t know if banks like Lehman Brothers used to give money for charity. But charity should go hand in hand with responsibility and ethics. Then what happened there would never have happened, I think,” she said.

Her statement is backed by results of the latest survey by the agency Factum Invenio that has revealed that every fourth Czech believes socially responsible companies more than other businesses.

“Contributing money for the development of the society is very important also in connection with the financial crisis that has recently hit the whole world,” Pavlína Kalousová of the Czech Donors Forum said.

Karma or promotion

But charity is mostly not done just like that, for nothing. Experts say that a suitable charitable project can also serve as promotion.

“If a company takes a strategic approach to its engagement in philanthropy, that means, if it is in line with its development strategy, the effects for the firm are enormous. It improves its reputation and negotiating position with many institution, let alone financial benefits. But these are not as high in the Czech Republic as abroad,” said Tomáš Hrivnák of the consulting company Idealisti.

Translated with permission by the Prague Daily Monitor.

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