Fortune 500 Humanitarian Aid Organizations

Is Wal-Mart a humanitarian aid organization? NO. Wal-Mart is a publicly traded company, which its main objective is to make money to keep their shareholders happy. There are many ways to argue that Wal-Mart is a humanitarian organization or that they are not, but the fact remains very clear. Wal-Marts main objective is to make money.

As we learned in War Games, the humanitarian aid scene is riddled with corruption and there are many organizations that feel as though they can do a better job of using their resources and providing aid. Polman laid out the scheme that many organizations utilize in order to boost their donor revenue, which is the media. The positive media coverage would go a long way in boosting the image of Wal-Mart in the eyes of many. The fact that this image boost could not be done with the same amount of money as they put into their “humanitarian aid” effort is eye opening. For example, they could decide between spending $2 million on a Superbowl commercial and spending $2 million on an aid effort. Which do you think would be more beneficial to the company? Sure they could continue to run that same ad over repeatedly, which would probably cost more money for ad spots, but they would also get repeat exposure from media coverage of the aid effort, for free.

Let’s take another look into this public relations attack to show Wal-Mart as a humanitarian aid organization. None of the other humanitarian aid organizations are set up as publicly traded companies, so there weren’t any financial statements to read through or compare, but let’s look at Wal-Mart’s. From their 2013 annual report, Wal-Mart announced that their charitable donations of cash and in-kind donations surpassed $1 billion. Staggering! When we consider that just two pages prior they just boasted that they were now a $466 billion dollar company, that billion begins to look a lot smaller. In essence, they donated roughly 0.21% of their worth to charity. Yes, that is less than 1%, even less than .25%. Would we consider someone making $100,000 that donates $210 to charity a humanitarian? Hardly.

The fact is that Wal-Mart has found a way to tap the resource of humanitarian aid and use it to boost its image. The $1 billion that they donate should not be downplayed, in any sense, but let’s not get humanitarians confused with a public relations move. A strategic plan to improve their image and protect their brand is not the same as wishing to provide good in the world.


Works Cited:

Hopgood, Stephen. “Saying “No” to Wal-Mart?: Money and Mortality in Professional Humanitarianism.” N.p., n.d. Web. 24 June 2013. <>.

N.d. Photograph. n.p. Web. 25 Jun 2013. <>.

Polman, Linda. War Games. London: Penguin, 2010. Print.

Wal-Mart. 2013 Annual Report. Investors: Annual Reports. Wal-Mart, 2013. 25 June 2013 <>.

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