10/12/2008 - 22:00

Private cash influential

10/12/2008 - 22:00

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WHILE philanthropists' money is always welcome, there are those for whom an increasing reliance on the private sector is a concern.

Private cash influential

WHILE philanthropists' money is always welcome, there are those for whom an increasing reliance on the private sector is a concern.

The biggest issue is so-called mission creep, where corporate or private philanthropists' offer of funding is tied to a cause or project and is so lucrative that the recipient is prepared to divert resources from what it considers its priorities.

WA Institute of Medical Research director Peter Klinken is one who admits this is a common issue in the not-for-profit world.

"It is pretty rare that people want to give to general causes," Professor Klinken said. "What happens is you get seduced by the money.

"It is a bit of a stretch, so you move away from the core business. There are all sorts of consequences to that.

"On one hand it's terrific that people are prepared to give and [are] passionate about it, but the organisation has to have a pretty good look at where it is placed."

There is also a wider issue, where private backers get involved in all sorts of social programs to influence thinking, from the way young people are educated to where our medical spending is directed.

An example is the University of Western Australia's very successful business school funding drive.

Big resources companies such as Woodside Petroleum, BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto dominate the sponsorship of the school, keen to see the development of management training on the doorstep of their major operations.

In the past there was a view that not enough was done to educate the managers of tomorrow's resource giants.

At the lower end of the philanthropic spectrum, Kevin Hewitt's offshore-focused marketing consultancy Capitalis got involved with sponsoring the business school through its Corporate Circle, through which it can engage and influence MBA students.

Mr Hewitt said he got involved because he believed there was too much focus on resources in Perth and he wanted those studying management to realise there were other options.

STANDING BY BUSINESS. TRUSTED BY BUSINESS.

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