Action Against HungerThe pictures of the devastation in Haiti that have been beamed all over the world have moved many to donate money, and millions of pounds has already been raised to help the emergency and longer-term rebuilding efforts. But last night at Le Bouchon Breton restaurant in London, something rather out of the ordinary happened.

Moved to action by the news, Sabrina Ghayour of Fidessa, and food enthusiast, blogger and reviewer, pulled off an extraordinary feat of organisation. A charity fund-raising dinner, complete with celebrity chefs, auction and raffle, with all of the proceeds going to Haiti, through the wonderful charity, Action Against Hunger.

Quite apart from the remarkable success of the event, and the generosity and commitment demonstrated by all involved, events such as these raise difficult PR questions for the corporate sponsors.

To be seen to overplay corporate social responsibility can be extremely damaging to a company’s reputation. We’re reaching a point where a degree of corporate social responsibility is expected. Consumers, supported by the media, are increasingly adept at seeing through corporate puffery. And that’s good for everyone trying to make a real difference.

However, if businesses under-communicate such activities, the charities lose out on valuable publicity, and other companies will not be inspired to similar action.

The answer will be different on each occasion, but it’s vital that such questions are considered to ensure that the value for all parties is maximised.

Such complexities aside, congratulations are due to all involved last night. All the chefs, waiters and sommeliers gave their time, and the restaurant, its space, for free. Every ounce of food and drop of wine was freely donated. The sponsors, and those who donated to the auction and raffle are too numerous to list here. And the fact that one woman was able to mobilise such forces in such a short space of time, and to such significant effect is a remarkable achievement.

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