Ian Monk: Charity donations call for discretion

It is going to be a good year for giving despite the fact that charities see dwindling public donations and the Government is having to cut its cake in very different ways in these recessionary times.

Ian Monk
Ian Monk

This is because there now exists a Victorian obligation of philanthropy on wealthy individuals and institutions. This creates a bandwagon for positive profile on to which many reputation managers and publicists will be jumping in the quest to build on the publicly perceived virtuosity of their clients.

Multimillionaire sportsmen and entertainers may increasingly find their value questioned when some fans can no longer afford the price of a ticket or a TV subscription. So, how better to demonstrate empathy than to give generously and visibly of time and money to a common cause?

How many commercial enterprises will gain kudos with audiences through a pre-sales announcement that a share of profits will go to a relevant charity?

A senior record industry bod to whom I was talking this week was musing over this. He suggested visible charitable connections could be as necessary to chart success as choice of music. But it would be up to the publicist to deliver the visibility in a sufficiently discreet manner not to lay the philanthropy open to accusations of blatant commercialism.

Publicists will need to remember that publicity around clients’ charitable associations should emphasise their relevance to the donor and should always appear understated.

In touch economic times, charities may become avaricious in the demands they make on stars as ambassadors. It is to be hoped that they too will be mindful of their own image in straitened times. Often they have been cavalier in creating the impression of employing too many highly paid executives whose moral duty is to persuade others to donate freely.

With discretion all around there is a symbiotic relationship between philanthropy and reputation. Everyone can be a winner.

Ian Monk is founder of Ian Monk Associates and a former executive at the Daily Mail and The Sun

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