Cooperatively breeding common marmosets show substantial variation in the amount of help they provide. Pay-to-stay and social prestige models of helping attribute this variation to audience effects, i.e. that individuals help more if group members can witness their interactions with immatures, whereas models of kin selection, group augmentation or those stressing the need to gain parenting experience do not predict any audience effects. We quantified the readiness of adult marmosets to share food in the presence or absence of other group members. Contrary to both predictions, we found a reverse audience effect on food-sharing behaviour: marmosets would systematically share more food with immatures when no audience was present. Thus, helping in common marmosets, at least in related family groups, does not support the pay-to-stay or the social prestige model, and helpers do not take advantage of the opportunity to engage in reputation management. Rather, the results appear to reflect a genuine concern for the immatures' well-being, which seems particularly strong when solely responsible for the immatures.