Fonterra donates $4m USD to Support Mother’s and Infants

Sunday, October 12, 2008 7:46
Posted in category Uncategorized

In my 5 years of working with NGOs and MNCs in China, I have yet to see a more blatant example of greenwashing than Fonterra’s recent 4m USD donation to the Soong Ching Ling foundation.

Embroiled in the recent milk scandal, the donation will create the “Fonterra Rural Maternity And Infant Healthcare Community Programme

A Soong Ching Ling program that I was first exposed to through my work with the AMCHAM CSR Committee:

The funds will be used to provide medical care and advice to pregnant women and mothers of infants in rural communities across China. The goal is to improve the health of women and children, thereby promoting social progress and development.

A very worthy program, and an important one that I know does a lot of good.

Executives at Fonterra were immediately questioned if this was a way for them to perhaps change the outcome the pending lawsuits, to which they replied in the article $8.4m donation not linked to Sanlu claims, says Fonterra

Fonterra spokesman Graeme McMillan said the donation was a goodwill gesture which had been the initiative of Fonterra board and management.

There are two quotes in the original press release that lead me to believe that this was a program that was not pure in motive:

“Fonterra has a 20-year history in China and is strongly committed to China. We are part of Chinese society and want to contribute to the development of the rural areas of China via our effort,” said Andrew Ferrier.


The project is the first charity activity launched by Fonterra in China, and is designed to provide long-term benefit to communities across the countryside

… I have worked with a lot of firms in China on CSR, and while some may take some time to learn about partners and make their decisions, none of them took 20 years..

To learn more about greenwashing, feel free to watch my interview of Penny Burgess of Ketchum where we discussed this issue.

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2 Responses to “Fonterra donates $4m USD to Support Mother’s and Infants”

  1. Dan says:

    October 12th, 2008 at 12:51 pm

    Who cares about motives? $4 million is $4 million.

    I just hope nobody questions my motives every time I donate, because, honestly, I think human beings do just about everything for many reasons.

  2. Rich says:

    October 12th, 2008 at 5:45 pm


    Under normal conditions, I would agree with you. There are a lot of reasons as to why firms/ people give money, and we should not necessarily question that.

    PErhaps if they has a history with SQL foundation I wouldn’t have mentioned it. Perhaps if they had made a single donation in their prior 20 years I wouldn’t have mentioned it.

    However,they hadn’t.

    The work that SQL foundation is important, so I am happy that they at least picked a good NGO, but they are also a very powerful political group in rural areas.. where many of the milk issues are occuring… and that should not be dismissed so easy.

    There are classic examples of greenwashing that should be pointed out, and it is important to do so because we should not be encouraging firms/ people using NGOs as political tools.

    Why shouldn’t we encourage using NGOs as political/ marketing tools? simple… if firms only donate when it is in their political or PR interest, then they are not developing sustainable platforms that provide real support to NGOs.

    I can go on and on about that, but as the founder of 2 NGOs in China and after helping more than 100 companies with their CSR strategies, I will just ask that you take my word for it… political and PR donations are not good for NGOs long term, and 4 million is not just 4 million.