Blue-Chip Banks Collaborate on Airlifts to Darfur

Fascinating to read in the New York Times about how a group of blue-chip banks and hedge funds (BlueMountain Capital Management, Goldman Sachs, Merrill Lynch and PNC Financial) are working together to bring much-needed medical supplies to Darfur. There are a couple of reasons why this story is particularly interesting.

- Ugly issues and joint efforts are rare among this level of corporate givers. According to the Times:

Corporate philanthropy is often driven by the interests of your customers and desire to strengthen your reputation,” said Mark Kramer, managing director of FSG Social Impact Advisors, a nonprofit consulting firm that works with corporations. “It is rare to see them working on an area that is a tough, unpleasant issue and that is pretty far removed from their core customer base.”

- Divestment is the real issue. While the collaborative nature of Project Darfur may be cutting-edge by traditional standards, the real cutting-edge would be divestment in companies fueling the genocide. Which raises the question, is this charitable innovation or diversion?

I counter my own cynicism when I learn that the Darfur Project is part of Clinton's Global Initiative. For better or worse, Clinton can serve as my "Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval" for global philanthropy. How about you?

Susan Herr

Posted at 1:18 AM, Nov 28, 2007 in Cross-Sectoral Strategies | Global Philanthropy | Permalink | Comments (1)


Which companies are “fueling the genocide” in Darfur (please name names), and why (again be specific, greed or exploitation of the proletariat is too easy and mindless)? Clearly, the source of the problems in Darfur is ethnic, tribal and, to a lesser degree, religious differences in the region. If there is money in this misery I’m curious where it is? It would be interesting to know if corporate America or some other multinationals were planning to set up another call center or start mining dirt in sub-Saharan Africa.

In terms of philanthropic merit, I think it best to avoid trying to divine the virtue and motives of the giver, whether President Clinton or a corporation, and instead judge the effect that their efforts and gifts have on peoples lives.

Posted by: Dan Scott