Ethical issues and relations with commercial organisations

Alzheimer's Society has a rigorous approach to support received from companies, pharmaceutical companies, those that benefit commercially from dementia, and investments we may make in companies. This policy is monitored and reviewed each year.

Alzheimer's Society will work in partnership with companies and others, to achieve its objectives.

The purpose of the policy is to regulate any support we receive from companies to protect the Society and our beneficiaries from the risk of being associated with a commercial organisation whose activities might be detrimental to our cause. It requires the Society to ensure that any product endorsement is evidence-based.

To support the needs of people with dementia and those who care for them the Society needs to work with others and it needs to derive income from a variety of sources. In deriving income from commercial organisations it will:

  • Not endorse products without evidence of benefit to those living with dementia or evidence of benefit in the prevention of dementia; any decision to endorse a product will be approved by the senior management team
  • Ensure that all engagements with commercial organisations are conducted and reported on in a transparent manner
  • Be prepared to accept sponsorship of its work but any concerns arising from that sponsorship will be resolved by the Ethical Committee, which consist of the directors of external affairs, operations, fundraising and research
  • Support this policy with detailed guidelines on interpretation and make those guidelines publicly and readily available
  • Keep the policy under constant review and report on its implementation to the Board of Trustees on an annual basis
  • Ensure that any inclusions/exclusions to the policy are made clearly known
It is agreed that:
  • The Society must refuse a donation which is offered from the proceeds of a criminal activity
  • The Society must not invest charity funds in a criminal enterprise
  • The Society may refuse a donation from a person or an organisation where to do so would, in the reasonable opinion of the Trustees (acting in the best interests of the charity), damage the standing of the charity such that its income or reputation could significantly suffer and, similarly, may refuse to invest in an organisation where that investment could have a similar effect
  • The Society will not accept donations from the tobacco industries or boxing, or those who make the substantial part of their profit from tobacco or boxing; substantial is defined as being where turnover from that activity exceeds 10% of the total turnover. However, donations generated by employee activity within those industries will be accepted
  • Income generated from the pharmaceutical industry be 'capped' at 5% of total income, based on the accounts for the preceding year
  • The Society will seek partnerships with healthcare industries and those working with dementia.

Written agreements with companies are required before a partnership is agreed.

The Society also instructs its investment advisers to avoid any investment in companies, which profit materially (in excess of 10% of turnover) from products that may be harmful to dementia sufferers or contribute to the causes of dementia. Consequently investments in the tobacco and boxing industries are avoided. Investments in pooled funds which contain investments in the tobacco and boxing industries, or companies which profit materially from such products and activities, are also to be avoided.