Business Giving, the Tsunami and Corporates as Rock Stars: Some Implications for Arts Funding?

Jenny Harrow, Paul Palmer, Mariana Bogdanova

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Financial and cultural aspects of corporate giving by UK and non-UK companies in response to the December 2004 South Asia Tsunami disaster are explored in this article. Literatures on corporate giving rationales, concepts of disaster and donor activity in disasters provide an underpinning. The article seeks to make connections between this high profile if short-lived business giving and the funding of the arts that is sought from business; and to draw tentative lessons for arts funding when seeking business support. The giving accounts in the wake of the Tsunami from a non-probability sample of 56 UK companies and 16 non-UK companies were examined. Reported online to the UK charity Business in the Community, these accounts were accessed in February 2005 and scrutinized thematically. Concurrently, company financial profiles to accompany giving figures were constructed. Although linkages between donation levels and financial performance were lacking, emerging themes included the role of employees, influencing company giving and creating a climate of expectation of firms' contributions. These developments may have important implications for business funding for the arts, where leading philanthropists are prominent as individuals in the giving landscapes; but employees' collective involvement is not marked. Alternatively, cultivation of employees as would-be donors, indirectly via their firms, may be a more secure, if lower level route to funding for some arts organizations than dependence on high profile business leaders. The article considers alternative scenarios for company giving in disaster contexts, including as a sustained and lasting giving theme or as company support as a ‘one-off’ event, rock-star style. The likely development of employee power as a key element in company giving is explored; and its wider meanings for funding in arts settings, (where the giver as rock star heroine/hero is also prominent) are considered.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)299-323
JournalCultural Trends
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2007


  • corporate philanthropy
  • arts funding
  • philanthropy


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