Jenny Geddes, CEO of The Australian Charities Fund (ACF), believes workplace giving has the potential to change the landscape of giving in Australia forever. With a target of one million workplace givers in its sights, ACF is encouraging business leaders to take up the challenge.
I’ve been privileged to be Australian Charities Fund’s (ACF) CEO for three years now. When I joined this sector, I held the largely misguided view that most working Australians participated in some form of workplace giving.
This is not the case. The latest information (2014) we have from the Australian Taxation Office tells us that fewer than 200,000 working Australians regularly contribute to charity from their pay.
On a more positive note, the incredible thing about this relatively small number of Aussies giving, is how small amounts add up collectively; when you add company matching to what these employees give, it equates to over $50 million per annum flowing through to the charity sector. Since 2002, workplace giving has raised over a quarter of a billion dollars of new funding for charities.
So, the potential is enormous and the challenge is one worth fighting for; what’s needed is a different mind-set from our business and community leaders to make it happen.
In many ways, the workplace giving challenge is akin to the issue of diversity.
In May this year, KPMG Australia released research on this topic and Ben Travers, KPMG People Advisory Partner, said: “Our studies have shown that those companies which disclosed clear quantifiable objectives like ‘achieving 35 percent of women at a senior management level by 2015’ demonstrated a higher level of gender diversity than those which did not set quantitative targets. Publicly committing to quantifiable objectives really does drive good diversity outcomes.”
We encourage organisations to do the same in the workplace giving space – organisations that have leaders who set targets and measure success have achieved great outcomes for their charity partners.
One such organisation is JB Hi-Fi. JB Hi-Fi now has 65 per cent of its team giving to its Helping Hands program and in June this year announced that it had reached $10 million in donations.
Richard Murray, CEO of JB Hi-Fi says that “Workplace giving is the right thing to do. Not only does it provide much needed cash to our charity partners, but it has also done great things for the JB Hi-Fi culture. I want our staff to feel part of JB Hi-Fi, and workplace giving ticks so many boxes around engagement, morale and culture. It really anchors how we communicate with our employees.”
Celebrating workplace giving success
At ACF, we’re of the firm view that successes such as those achieved by JB Hi-Fi need to be celebrated and used to encourage other employers to do achieve the same results. To that end, we’ve launched a new One Million Donors workplace giving hub for employers.
In addition to applying for Awards and Supporter Marks, the site allows companies to track the progress of their workplace giving program against other employers across the nation.
I believe this is a huge step forward for employers who want to immediately see how staff are contributing, as well as measuring the collective social impact of employee giving.
We know that for employers, workplace giving is a great way to not only contribute to charity, but also meet staff expectations of leading employers. This is a unique opportunity for all businesses, big and small.
The launch of the new One Million Donors tools follows recent research by SEEK, ACF and Social Impact Hub, which uncovered that young Australians are motivated by a genuine desire to make a difference and are seeking employers who enable their passion for the community.
Now in its third year, the One Million Donors campaign is supported by a group of high profile Australian businesses and charities, as well as leading community organisations including Benojo, Catalyser, GiveNow, GivingWest, LBG, Philanthropy Australia and United Way.
I encourage business leaders across Australia to get motivated about their workplace giving programs.
Set ambitious targets, and in doing so, make a difference to both the charities you support and the morale and involvement of your workplace.
Everyone can be a philanthropist and even very small donations of $1 a week soon add up to thousands, if not millions, of dollars.
For more information about the One Million Donors campaign visit www.1MDonors.org.au.
Jenny Geddes joined The Australian Charities Fund (ACF) in July 2013 and came to ACF with over 20 years’ experience in the consumer electronics, public relations, new media and IT industries. Much of this career has been with Sony Australia where she held very senior roles in corporate communications, brand marketing and public relations. In parallel with this career, Jenny has been practically and strategically involved in the success of the renowned Sony Foundation.
Partnering for impact: Sony Foundation
 Calculated by applying ACF modelling to FY2014 Australian Taxation Office data where, on average, each of Australia’s 156,000 workplace giving donors gave $202 through pre-tax salary donations plus employer donation matching.