By Claire Ferris-Lay
Non-profit group says it’s struggling to maintain funding because firms don’t understand benefits of donating
Dubai-based corporations are lagging behind western businesses in recognising the benefits of corporate social responsibility (CSR) schemes, the founder of one of the emirate’s leading non-profit organisations has said.
Charities in Dubai are struggling to raise donations from the private sector because they are unaware of the commercial benefits to them, said Tala Badri, founder of Dubai’s Centre for Musical Arts.
“Companies in Dubai are lagging behind [more developed markets]. One of the things companies do when they are donating money is just think they are flushing it down the toilet but there is so much more to it than that,” she told Arabian Business.
Badri established the Centre for Musical Arts, a non profit organisation that provides affordable music lessons for children, four years ago but has struggled to maintain regular funding.
“Four years ago, when we first set up, we were really fortunate to have some great support from three major companies who helped build the music centre and set it up. That was four years ago and in four years we’ve had absolutely nothing,” she said.
“We’ve got so many things we would like to do and expansion is just a small part of it. We’ve been invited to take part in supporting music programmes in third world countries because the work we do is recognised around the world, it’s just really unfortunately it’s not much in Dubai,” she added.
Companies need to recognise that donating to a charity can be a two-way street, said Badri.
“We have a website, for example, that currently I am looking for sponsorship for because it needs upgrading. We have 1,300 students and each of those students has to go onto the website once a week to check what’s going on as all of our communication is done through that.
“If I could get someone to sponsor that, we get over 100,000 hit on our website. Yet I still can’t encourage anyone to do that,” she said.
What you are asking for is philanthropy, not CSR - I wish people would learn the difference. CSR is a holistic business approach which puts people, profits and planet together - not merely throwing money at NGOs and charities.
You are right however that the private sector needs to practice better CSR, but perhaps focusing on their people, good corporate governance and transparency would be a good place to start; better than throwing good money after bad for the sake of a few PR column inches.
CSR, what is that? This is what I have faced for 5 years. You are so right! Manzil my centre for individuals with special needs a not for profit organisation continues to face very similar funding problems. I had a prominent organisation that was just a non money supporter pull out 18 hours before the launch of my fund raising campaign because I did not have big corporate names on board! Perhaps we should join forces and do some joint fund raising.