Sponsorship By Wasta

الخميس 16 تشرين الأول 2008

Written By: Elena Abuadas

I am one of the founders of a local NGO in Jordan. The NGO was created out of the initiative of several young people hoping to, maybe, change something in Jordan. We have been active for five years now, and we actually have had a successful record of achievements. Most of our funds come from the European Commission (EC), and sometimes we get funding from embassies in Jordan.

Since government aid for NGOs doesn’t exist in Jordan, every year we go through the battle of finding local sponsors to support part of our activities, or, complement the funds that come from the EC. Usually the EC funds around 80%, expecting that it is easy for NGOs to mobilize the private and public sectors to fund the missing 20%. It is always the same story. We are frequently asked by potential donors questions such as, “where do you come from?” and “who is your wasta?” We are frequently told: “we don’t finance such development projects”, or “we only finance parties and music events”, “we are short on money”, “get Nancy Ajram and we will sponsor you”, etc.

However, what is worse is that when you send the sponsorship package to multi-million dollar companies – such as telecoms, logistics, and pharmaceutical companies – they don’t even bother to acknowledge receiving your email, let alone answering you. Moreover, when I do manage to catch their PR or marketing department by phone at any moment of the year, they always claim to have “just ran out of money”.

We always guarantee high visibility for our sponsors – putting their names in press articles, their logos at the sites we work at, distributing their brochures among our beneficiaries – but since our development projects always target disadvantaged areas, and people with less opportunities (as they should), the sponsors are not interested in visibility among poor people. Their sense of social responsibility is actually a nicely packaged marketing plan that is tied directly to sales.

This makes me wonder: where is the corporate social responsibility in Jordan?