Q: What is corporate sponsorship?
A: Corporate sponsorship, also called corporate
giving or corporate philanthropy, means receiving money, services or
in-kind donations in order to hold an event, implement programming,
expand services and/ or purchase supplies.
Q: Why do tobacco companies fund non-profit groups?
A: Businesses and corporations sponsor non-profit groups for many reasons.
Sponsorships can promote and heighten the visibility of a company's products and of their corporate image, and gain access to target audiences. Sponsorships can promote loyalty to the corporation, and may influence policies in the community.
Tobacco companies sponsor non-profit organizations because they need
to advertise, build their reputation as a good neighbor, and use their
influence to discourage health initiatives that threaten their business.
An industry responsible for over 430,000 American deaths every year
has a serious public relations challenge. The company would rather be
known for their generosity than for their deadly product.
Q: Our agency is a social services agency, not a health-related one. Why take a position against tobacco companies and reject funding?
A: All agencies are touched in some way by the overall health of the community in which it operates.
Nicotine addiction and the use of tobacco products has created a health crisis with significant social repercussions on many levels. Every day there are about 1,200 smoking related deaths in the United States; more than are caused by AIDS, tuberculosis, traffic accidents, murder and suicide combined.
The financial impact of tobacco-related death and disease is extensive, affecting workforce productivity, tax revenue, and ultimately community buying power. Across the U.S. tobacco related illness creates a need for costly hospital visits and social services totaling $150 billion.
Tobacco companies have misled the public for years about the “safety" of their products. For years they claimed to not know about the addictiveness of nicotine in their products. Recently, tobacco companies have been forced to disclose that they lied, and were aware that nicotine is addictive.
Internal tobacco industry papers have also disclosed that the tobacco industry consciously set out to addict children to their products.
As a result, the public perception of tobacco companies is negative. Tobacco companies are trying to counter this negative perception. By accepting funding from tobacco companies an organization is giving legitimacy to the tobacco industry and their efforts to regain the public's trust.
An organization may also be compromising their own mission. For example,
the public may believe that accepting money from a tobacco company is
at odds with a mission that supports healthy communities, social justice,
corporate responsibility, drug free schools and a drug free society.
Q: We need donations to stay afloat. How can we justify refusing anyone willing to give us money?
A: Consider the following questions:
- Does taking this money compromise the organizational mission?
- Will the agency's good community reputation be compromised by taking money from a company that makes its profit by producing and marketing a product which addicts and kills its users.
- Would my agency or staff be open to manipulation from the tobacco company if I take this money?
- Would there be potential conflicts of interest that may arise when the agency wants to educate or speak out about tobacco?
- Will other potential funders view the relationship with the tobacco industry as unacceptable? More and more prominent organizations such as the American Cancer Society, the American Lung Association and the New York State Department of Health are publicly stating their opposition to tobacco industry funding. They have adopted policies of their own stating that they will no longer give grants or provide other forms of support to those who also accept support from tobacco companies or their subsidiaries.
If you answered yes to one or more of the above questions, accepting
tobacco money will be more of a cost to your organization than a benefit.
The benefit of accepting the money is a short-term benefit and in the
long run could end up compromising and jeopardizing your agency’s
Q: Isn't it okay to accept funding from tobacco companies if we are using it for the overall good of the community?
A: It is important to remember how the sale of tobacco has impacted your community in the past. While tobacco companies have profited greatly from the sale of tobacco products, those same products have drained the community of millions of dollars in resources over many decades. These companies are still selling tobacco in your community, and the money you would accept is profits from that money. Meanwhile, the tobacco company gets a tax break from their donation, and the community pays out in additional health care.
Law suits won by the states against the tobacco companies were an effort to recover the billions of taxpayer dollars spent in Medicaid costs to treat tobacco-related illness. The states won by proving that the tobacco companies were well aware of the addiction and health dangers associated with smoking, even while they continued deny their knowledge and hide this information from the public.
A tobacco company's interest in sponsoring an organization is not based
on their desire to repay the financial loss to the community, but rather
to win a public relations game and rebuild their public image.
Q: There is no "clean" money. Why should we single out tobacco companies as opposed to other corporations that have practices we do not support?
A: Organizations may object to donations from other industries or companies as well. The decision to not accept monies from corporate funders is unique to an organization and its values and mission. However, given the overt nature of the tobacco industry's exploitation of our communities, especially the most vulnerable members such as children and the undereducated, it is clear that tobacco sponsorship benefits the tobacco companies more than it benefits any organization.
Examples of other businesses that may conflict with an organization's
values include: handgun manufacturers, industries or companies with
a record of environmental exploitation or neglect, companies that supply
or support repressive governments, companies with a record of poor labor
relations or of exploiting workers in underdeveloped countries, media
that present objectionable material or actively promote a point of view
that conflicts with your values.
Q: Is it okay to accept tobacco money on the condition that we not print the company logo or otherwise publicize their name in our materials?
A: The purpose of sponsorship monies is
to get the name of the donor company associated with the name of respected
community groups and organizations. It is unlikely that a tobacco company
would agree to waive the any and all opportunity for current or future
Q: If we don't accept tobacco sponsorship now, why should we pass a policy?
A: Adopting a policy reaffirms and strengthens
the mission of your agency while establishing a strong legacy for those
who will be future leaders of your organization and the community. For
decades tobacco companies have funded groups that serve the company's
target markets, including women, minorities, and children. By preempting
their offer you are helping to build a community closed to tobacco industry
influences, and reducing their options for expansion.
Q: Our agency already has a verbal policy to refuse any tobacco company sponsorship and funding. Why do we need a written policy?
A: A written policy that has been debated
and enacted by a board of directors has a far greater impact than a
verbal policy that can neither be seen nor modeled. A written policy
will withstand changes in the agency's board and staff. A written policy
ensures that the organization, its members and staff will uphold their
stand against corporate gifts, financial contributions, advertising
and event sponsorship by tobacco companies.