Unless you have been living under a rock, you have heard of the recent tragedy impacting the Notre-Dame, where a strong fire has severely damaged this landmark piece of architecture last Monday. The reason for the fire is still yet unknown, however officials do not suspect terrorism or arson. In this regard, there was a lot of controversy due to the amount of donations provided by large multinational companies and individuals. In a world where there are millions of people on the brink of starvation, is it just that around a billion Euro to restore the Notre Dame have been donated?
One may argue that the Notre-Dame is part of France’s allure and is a necessary component for tourism. The restoring of this monumental building may bring to the fore more tourism as people would be curious to see the newly restored Notre-Dame. In around two days, the restoration donation amounts neared the nine hundred million Euro mark. Whilst it is indeed admirable that large corporations are looking into restoring a part of France’s heritage, it has raised many questions from several parties, as to why such business entities have offered their contributions so quickly. Is it due to promotional purposes, so that companies appear at the forefront of helping out in such a unique scenario?
Such strong contributions are also associated with the fact that such companies might actually benefit from tax breaks through these donations. Would this be a fair outcome? Should such companies be rewarded from a tax point of view due to their charitable contributions? How can we tell that such companies are not giving away such donations solely for the purpose of tax benefits?
Social media has also been taken by storm as people both within France and abroad have expressed their frustration that this disaster was given so much prominence and others happening in Syria and Iraq are not given a fraction of the support, especially when considering that people are dying daily!
The first major donation to Notre-Dame came from Francois-Henri Pinault, the billionaire head of luxury goods group Kering, that owns fashion brands Gucci and Saint Laurent. A celebrity figure, Pinault who is married to actress Salma Hayek, committed a hundred million Euro. Significant donations were also given by the head of Louis Vuitton and the largest shareholder of L’Oreal.
From a marketing point of view, these moves definitely make sense considering that the Notre-Dame is a national symbol.
One also needs to take into account the insurance cover in place, especially when considering that the funds donated may not be used if the existing policy, if any, will cover the restoration costs.
What happens to the money then?