Crowdfunding success for the restoration of Notre Dame, Paris a success - but wait

  • Community Manager

    $1 billion was raised within less than a day as soon as the French President made a call for donations to help restore the landmark which was torn down and engulfed in flames on Monday night. (Read more on the disaster)

    Where majority of the funds originated from:

    • François-Henri Pinault, the 56 year-old C.E.O. of Paris-based luxury goods group Kering, which owns brands like Gucci and Yves Saint Laurent: $113 million
    • Bernard Arnault, 70, whose family owns the luxury conglomerate LVMH, along with his family and LVMH: $226 million
    • Patrick Poyanné, CEO of French energy company Total, said his firm would donate: $113 million
    • French cosmetics company L’Oreal, along with the Bettencourt-Schueller foundation and the Bettencourt Meyers family: $226 million

    Determined they were, and are, to protect and rebuild the iconic symbol of European history. Experts say that restoring it (which took a century to build after construction started in 1160) will take years, or even decades. But we're off to a good start.

    Amidst this moment of immense solidarity and say-no-more-let's-do-it altruism,

    You might be interested to check out what this opinion piece has to say about these conglomerates / influential affluents:

    One paragraph which definitely struck a chord with me:-

    Brick and mortar and stained-glass might burn, but they do not bleed, and they do not starve, and they do not suffer. Humans suffer. Everywhere in the world, from Paris to Persepolis, people are suffering. But their suffering is every day. It does not light up a front page, and it does not inspire immediate donations from the world's wealthiest men.


    If two men in a world of more than 7 billion people can provide €300million to restore Notre Dame, within six hours, then there is enough money in the world to feed every mouth, shelter every family and educate every child. The failure to do so is a matter of will, and a matter of system.

    What's the first thought that comes to your mind?

    Does this sit well with you? How does this make you feel?

  • I'd be surprised if the declared donations are actualized. I have a feeling that they mentioned it for publicity than anything else.

    Shouldn't the church (as an iconic landmark) have some sort of fire insurance anyway? If not... business opportunity! HAHA

  • It will be donated to the Roman Catholic Vatican Church which will be tax exempted.

  • It does not sit well with me, and it never has. What's new :/

  • Emergent

    From a Facebook post (credit James Biron)

    François-Henri Pinault, who heads Kering SA, the fashion company behind Gucci and Alexander McQueen pledged a donation of €100 million ($113 million) for the reconstruction of Notre Dame Cathedral.

    Let’s see if he or his company has not given a single € to the marginalized.

    • Launched in 2009 and chaired by François-Henri Pinault, the Kering Foundation combats violence against women. The Foundation supports projects led by local NGOs, assists social entrepreneurs and organizes awareness campaigns, all the while, involving Kering’s 40,000 employees.
    • Combatting sexual violence. Financial support: €365,000
    • We End Violence offers digital tools dedicated to breaking gender stereotypes. Since 2006, 10,000 people have benefited from actions led by We End Violence. Financial support: €30,000 + mentoring
    • Obstetrician/gynecologist Ghada Hatem founded the Maison des femmes, which offers care as well as unique and comprehensive guidance, not only medical but also psychological, emotional, mental and physical. Financial support: €235,000
    • The Tackling Female Genital Mutilation Initiative regroups several funders in order to support the actions of grassroots organizations committed to preventing female genital mutilation in the United Kingdom. Financial support: €65,000
    • HER Fund gives grants to Hong Kong grassroots organizations and self-organized women groups that principally work with women from marginalised communities: migrant women from mainland China, migrant workers, ethnic and LBTQ women. Financial support: €115,645
    • The Maple Women’s Psychological Counseling Center (MWPCCB) was founded in Beijing in 1992 ‘by a group of women to take care of women.’ Financial support: €154,000
    • Gynécologie sans frontières deploys its Caminor mission in 4 migrant camps and 5 migrant centres of the Hauts-de-France region (in northern France) to provide medical care and support to women and their children. Financial support: €30,000
    • Over a million Syrians are refugees in Lebanon and live in extremely precarious conditions. Since 1996, Restart Center has provided support for women and teenage girls who are victims of violence, torture and trauma. Financial support: €180,000

    Bernard Arnault, who heads LVMH, which is the parent company of Louis Vuitton, Moët and Hennessy pledged €200 million ($226 million) to the reconstruction.

    Let’s also see if Bernard Arnault and or his company LVMH has not given anything to charity as the viral FB post claims:

    • €140,000 was donated in 2017 to the team at Robert-Debré pediatric hospital in Paris working every day to offer the best care possible to children with sickle cell anemia. More than €650,000 has been donated to the hospital since 2011.
    • A total of €80,000 has been donated since 2015 to Kelina, a charity, which works to provide care for mothers and children in Benin Africa
    • K d’Urgences, which provides human, social and financial support for single-parent families in France. A total of 80,000 euros has been donated since 2014.
    • In France, Guerlain has supported Belle & Bien for the past 14 years. This nonprofit organization is the French branch of the international Look Good Feel Better program, which is offered in 30 countries around the world to support women undergoing treatment for cancer.
    • Since 2015, Sephora China has been working alongside the international NGO Operation Smile to pay for operations for children with a cleft palate, thus improving their health and quality of life.
    • In 2016, Fresh joined forces with (RED), an international nonprofit whose aim is to engage millions of people in the fight to end AIDS in Africa. A partnership with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation raised $4,000 for (RED).
    • On January 11, 2016, Louis Vuitton entered into a partnership with UNICEF (United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund). In its first year, the partnership raised $2.5 million to support children in Syria and Nigeria.
    • In 2017, Christian Dior Couture entered into a partnership with Epic Foundation to fight against social inequalities affecting children.
    • Back in 2009, Bvlgari decided to partner with Save the Children, an international NGO whose mission is to protect the rights of millions of children and work for lasting improvements in their living conditions in 120 countries. Since then, 700,000 Bvlgari’s customers have purchased some pieces in its Save the Children jewelry collection, and the company has donated more than $70 million from the proceeds to help 1.2 million children in need through the organization’s programs.

    How about the Catholic Church? It is the largest charitable group in the whole world.

    Let’s see what it is doing:

    • The Church runs 5,500 hospitals, 18,000 clinics, 16,000 homes for the elderly and those with special needs, with 65 percent of them located in underdeveloped and developing countries.
    • It operates more than 140,000 schools
    • Caritas, the umbrella organization for Catholic aid agencies, estimates that spending by its affiliates totals between £2 billion and £4 billion
    • Then sum up all the small-scale charitable projects of more than 200,000 Catholic parishes around the world and those of individual religious orders such as the Franciscans, Jesuits, Dominicans, Opus Dei, Vincentians, and others
    • Around 4,500 Missionary Sisters of Charity (founded in 1950 by Mother Teresa) care for hundreds of thousands of poor refugees, mentally ill, the aged and convalescent, sick and abandoned children, lepers, and people with AIDS in addition to running schools to educate street children and managing soup kitchens around the world.

    Those who question why people donate so much for the reconstruction of a Cathedral, not to mention also a national icon, while not using that same money to feed the hungry must first examine what these donors are doing before making any false claims.

    I am reminded of this passage about a woman who poured a very expensive perfume on Jesus’ head (Mark 14:4-6):

    “Why waste this perfume? It could have been sold for more than a year’s pay. The money could have been given to poor people.”..

    Jesus said: She has done a beautiful thing to me. You will always have poor people with you. You can help them any time you want to.

    That person who considered that act as extravagance and complained how it could have been put to better use by giving it to the poor was no other than Judas. Don’t be on the same league as Judas.

    Note: not defending them but this is a counter argument.

  • Just to summarise the info provided above for clarity:

    For one cathedral: EUR100m
    For women and girls, against sexual violence, genital mutilation, etc:
    EUR1.15m++ since 90s

    For one cathedral: EUR226m
    For children, mothers, cancer, AIDS, etc:
    EUR73m which includes EUR2.5m and EUR70m raised from public, sales of own luxury products, since 09

    It's ironic to accuse of false claims when quoting religious claims and scriptures.
    I'm pretty sure the historical Jesus, the ascetic, would have something to say about using his name for the extravagance of buildings.

    And I totally agree people should examine the evidence before making false claims... like defaming poor ol' Judas.

  • @kaeley-wn That's because we're living in a capitalistic system / nations which wouldn't be changed any time soon.

  • Contributor

    Here is my take, with due respect to everyone.

    ND is more than a cathedral, is the world's heritage. If you cannot detach the religious body that built it and administers it from its inherent value, you are missing the whole picture. Have a look at the UNESCO World heritage list here. Most of them are religion-related.

    Wars, famines, people come and go. Some monuments remain for generations to come as testimony of Humankind's progress and prowess. Was the Shwedagon's Pagoda in Rangoon burnt, was the Quba mosque of Medina damaged...I would liked them restored.



    On another front, I find it very hypocrite to criticize millionaires for what they do. Yet it happens all the time. Last year Amancio Ortega (self-made entrepreneur that built Inditex empire from scratch and a lot of imagination) donated $350 million worth on oncology treatment machines to our almost-bankrupted Spanish healthcare system, only to see people labeling it as shaming handout.

    However, I do believe everyone in this forum is comparatively thousands times richer than any African kid. Jeez, hundreds more than most of any Orang Asli. Yet we go party, spend money on lavish stuff from time to time, buy things we don't really need, take flights and travel the world... We wouldn't like anyone to tell us hypocrites, or say our spontaneous acts of charity are just a PR stunt, would we?

    Research has anyways shown that charity has an inherent component of selfishness. Humans give in great part to make themselves feel better.
    Sources: TIME, Science.
    Citing this last one (bold is mine):

    Civil societies function because people pay taxes and make charitable contributions to provide public goods. One possible motive for charitable contributions, called “pure altruism,” is satisfied by increases in the public good no matter the source or intent. Another possible motive, “warm glow,” is only fulfilled by an individual's own voluntary donations. Consistent with pure altruism, we find that even mandatory, tax-like transfers to a charity elicit neural activity in areas linked to reward processing. Moreover, neural responses to the charity's financial gains predict voluntary giving. However, consistent with warm glow, neural activity further increases when people make transfers voluntarily. Both pure altruism and warm-glow motives appear to determine the hedonic consequences of financial transfers to the public good.

  • I don't remember receiving help from anyone when I'm in financial difficulties. The bank charges me interest plus late fees when I'm overdue my loan repayments. I still have to rely on myself to earn the money. People need to get up and work their ass out instead of waiting for other people to feed them. These rich people have every right to spend their own or shareholders' money however they see fit. Has the author of the said article helped any of these suffering people? To us the normal people, every dollar donated sets us back from our goal to achieve financial freedom. So, meh. Survival of the fittest. If the poor cannot even work hard enough to feed themselves and their children, then they have no value in the economy. Heck, why they even have sex and children when they cannot provide for them? On the contrary, the Norte Dame is a valuable cultural heritage which contributes a lot to the local economy.

  • @jomni Thanks for sharing that counter argument. It's not that these conglomerates aren't doing anything/enough to help the ones in need, nor is it that these amounts pouring into its restoration are meaningless, but it's just hard to not imagine the amount of people that could be helped with that amount of money.

    A part of me agrees with @JC18's counter-counter argument.

    Diverse but noteworthy points too from everyone else though!

  • Emergent

    Ya. So where’s the crowdfunding for Sri Lanka?


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