Workplace Giving – Together We Can Do So Much

Article published Wednesday, June 18, 2014 – ProBono Australia

The push for increased workplace giving awareness is both timely and full of potential, writes Jenny Geddes, CEO of the Australian Charities Fund.

No single organisation or person has the expertise, resources or reach to effectively address social challenges alone. Instead, it takes a collaborative effort between government, industry, employees and Not for Profits to create significant social impact.

The Australian Charities Fund’s One Million Donors campaign, launched early in June in Canberra by the Hon Malcolm Turnbull, is designed to raise awareness among all sectors, encouraging Australians to embrace workplace giving.

Reaching the 2020 target of one million Australians donating through pre-tax payroll giving would see Australian workers and their employers contributing well over $300 million each year to charity* as more employers and working Australians join this social movement.

Research over the past five years has shown that workplace giving consistently meets the needs of all stakeholders:

  • The community sector needs low cost, stable funding to deliver social outcomes;
  • Employers want to engage employees, customers, shareholders and the broader public in community investment to drive success;
  • Australians want easy, low cost, high impact ways to give – knowing their donations aren’t eaten up by high fundraising costs or third party fees.

A common misconception is that workplace giving is targeted only for employees that earn high incomes. This is far from the truth; workplace giving is focused on the collective impact employees and their organisations have to contribute to charities.

Now it’s the time to act and raise awareness to engage more Australians in this smarter form of giving.

Despite workplace giving in Australia growing modestly, we believe there is room for dramatic growth. Employers who do fully embrace all aspects of workplace giving (pre-tax payroll giving, donating money, time, skills and in-kind) are really seeing that they can buck the trend of low participation rates and they do acknowledge that workplace giving is a proven way to drive both employee engagement and social impact.

Jono Nicholas, the CEO of ReachOut.com by Inspire Foundation, has said workplace giving has proven one of the lowest cost and most reliable ways to deliver funding for their work. He has noted that by investing in a relationship with an organisation, Reachout.com is then able to reach huge numbers of donors and achieve a considerable return on its fundraising efforts.

For business, workplace giving further engages the workforce, having a positive effect on business performance, including productivity, talent management, greater customer loyalty, brand and social licence to operate.

Richard Murray, the incoming CEO of JB Hi-Fi spoke at the launch in Canberra and said that his organisation’s workplace giving program “Helping Hands” had seen employees raise more than $5.5 million in five years, with matching support of the company. The success of the company’s program, he says, has proven staff want to be part of something that connects them with the wider community.

There is definitely a desire to educate workplace giving on a broader scale, with recent national AskU survey** results identifying that 92 per cent of Australians think there is a need to educate working Australians about pre-tax payroll giving within the workplace.

How might this be done? This can be accomplished if businesses, government, charities and intermediaries work together to raise awareness – that’s one of the tenets of the One Million Donors campaign.

An employee may choose to give as little as a 50c or $1 a week, but when combined with their fellow workers and potentially matched by their organisation, the funds for the charity sector quickly add up. Two of the most successful programs are JB Hi Fi and Collins Foods, the staff give just 50c or $1. JB Hi Fi has donated $5.5 million and Collins has donated $2.4 million in five years.

If the standard for all Australian businesses involved ensuring a successful workplace giving program is implemented, this will see a significantly greater proportion of charity’s provided with regular fundraising income to fulfil their societal mission.

The Government’s support of the One Million Donors campaign is critical to achieving our mission. It plays a significant role as one of Australia’s largest employers to ensure it is offering its staff the ability to give to the community in the most cost-effective way.

Through working together with business, government and the Not for Profit sector a real societal impact is achievable.

About the Author: Jenny Geddes has worked for more than 20 years in consumer electronics, public relations, new media and IT. Much of her career has been with Sony Australia Limited where she held senior roles in corporate communications, brand marketing and public relations.

* ATO FY’12 data states that 133,000 Australians give on average $300 per annum. through pre-tax salary donations to charity. Using this rate, one million Australians giving equates to $300m p.a. (This figure does not include company matching. In FY’12, company matching was approximately $15 million.)

** AskU survey results are attached. A free way to support charities in 30 seconds. Harness your idle time by answering questions to support causes you're passionate about. - See more at: http://www.probonoaustralia.com.au/news/2014/06/workplace-giving-–-together-we-can-do-so-much#sthash.B6dTicaN.MXDpl4wR.dpuf