Matthew Miller
Aug 6, 2019

Do supercar rides for orphans count as CSR?

Malaysian used-car site Carlist.my and racing academy Aylezo tout a recent event that gave kids rides in expensive cars, but little actual help.

Do supercar rides for orphans count as CSR?

In an effort supposedly intended to "give back to the less fortunate in our society", Malaysian used-car site Carlist.my and racing academy Aylezo, with help from Active Bugs, Monster Energy and Black Pearl Events, held an event recently called the #DreamsComeTrue CSR program. 

"Orphanage kids" from an organisation called Pertubuhan Perkhidmatan Sosial dan Pembangunan Komuniti (PSPK), enjoyed face painting, a clown performance, inflatable archery and a buffet lunch, according to a press release. The "highlight of the day"? Getting a chance to take a ride in one of a number of supercars that were present. It looks like everyone had fun, at least according to these photos on the Carlist Facebook page.

So far so good. What else is this CSR programme doing for these kids? 

Well, we're told that Carlist.my staff also collected "more than RM3,513 to donate for the orphanage to be used for the children’s education and daily needs".

Nice! How much is that?

[Googling ensues.]

RM3,513 = US$838.32.

Wow.

The 2019 base price of a Lamborghini Aventador—several of which are visible in the Facebook pictures—is US$417,826.

So let us get this straight. This effort gathered a number of owners of fabulously expensive, gas-guzzling rich-boy toys, plus the involvement of a series of sponsors. And yet, all it could manage to come up with for these children was some birthday party-style entertainment, a meal, and a sum that probably wouldn't even cover a single cleaning of a limited-edition Italian motorcar?

Oh right, the car owners also deigned to let the kids sit in their cars for a bit and consume some measure of petrol.

But wait, there's more! The children also got a tone-deaf message to take home. To wit:

We worked with PSPK and their orphans to give these kids a fun time while inspiring them to be successful, have a dream and aim high.

That's right, kids! You need inspiration. You may think that your background and the fact that you don't have parents is making your life challenging. But really, the only thing preventing you from owning a US$400,000 car is failure to dream and aim high. You didn't realize that you too could aspire to own the most insane form of transportation that money can buy, but luckily we have now inspired you! Hurrah for us! Goodbye and good luck!

[Engines howl. Tires squeal. And...scene.]

To drop the sarcasm for a moment. The message above, in and of itself, is not completely offensive. Inspiration isn't bad. But the message is 100% offensive when it's coupled with the paltry sum donated. And therefore the overall event comes off as not only cheap but also condescending and exploitative—a shallow attempt to get credit for doing good, rather than as a display of real "corporate social responsibility".

We're still holding out hope that "RM3,513" is a typo. Or that Carlist.my simply failed to mention some additional effort or ongoing commitment on behalf of needy kids. Campaign has reached out to the company but has not received a response.

Update: A spokesperson confirmed the amount is correct and added that the company plans to hold annual charity events in coming years. 

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