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Miserly response from big corporates towards Earth Mela 2010

Friday, April 23, 2010
BY SHWETHA KANNAN

Inspite of issues like saving nature and the environment being talked about all over town, the IPL controversy seems to be of a greater interest for people, especially the corporate sector, which otherwise swears by the term Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR).

SPROUTS, an NGO, is organizing Earth Mela 2010 on April 24 and 25, 2010 at the Maharashtra Nature Park, for the third time and its budget was only Rs.2 lakh. But raising this amount was not easy for them, as the IPL had already exhausted the resources of those who could have lent a helping hand.

“We have got nothing this year in terms of corporate sponsorship. I would not like to take any names, but many major corporates did not help us saying that they have already given a lot for the IPL and have lost money. Even radio channels said that their slots are full with the promotions for the IPL finals. We approached a dozen odd corporates to help us only under CSR. As our registration is still underway, we can’t give them ATG,” said Anand Pendharkar, Director, SPROUTS.

Expressing his thoughts on how the concept of CSR is skewed these days, Pendharkar said, “The concept of CSR is being badly misused by corporates. They are ready to send their staff as volunteers to our event, but are not ready to give any money. They say we don’t give money, we give only help gratis. But what is the use of having people as volunteers who don’t know much about bio-diversity? How would they explain things to visitors? We are better at that. Moreover, they want us to waive off the registration for the staff members that they would be sending. This is not CSR. CSR is about sharing their profits with us. The only corporate that came forward to help us is Excel Industry which is into green technology. That is all.”

“We have raised about half the amount through small NGOs, and individuals donors. Even the stall owners are willing to do their bit for the cause by sharing the cost of the venue. Now, we are hopeful that some companies whom we have approached will get back to us with a favourable reply,” said Pendharkar, speaking about the sources that helped his NGO raise funds.

As a message to the corporates, Pendharkar said, “Nature is going to help you survive, not cricket. Yes, entertainment is needed and it is different from issues like environment and health, but you need to get your priorities and the concept of CSR right. NGOs are not for getting free entertainment for their staff,” and in his message to the people he said, “Everybody has to take a small step to change things around. Recycle, conserve electricity, plant trees and take care of them. Have commitment towards the cause.”

 

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