We share learnings from Good2Give’s ‘Get Giving – Insights from Industry Champions’ webinar.

Australia’s leading workplace giving organisations, Good2Give (G2G) and Workplace Giving Australia (WGA) merged in late 2021. This March they delivered their first webinar in their new capacity under the Good2Give name.  

The webinar explored some of the most successful workplace giving programs (WPG) in Australia. Here we share the highlights.  

Greenhill & Co 

Greenhill & Co is a global independent investment bank and a winner in the Workplace Giving Excellence Awards in the Best Overall Category for a small/medium-sized enterprise. Greenhill has a 100% participation rate in their WPG program, and their average donation amount is three times the national average. We were joined by Tahnee Kljaic, Associate and key member of Grenhill’s Community Impact team. 

Tahnee’s takeaways 

Tahnee shared why she thinks the WPG program is so successful at Greenhills: 

  • The Australian arm of Greenhills is small, and WPG is considered to be a key component of team culture. 
  • A top-down approach – leaders emphasise the importance of WPG to the broader team.  
  • A flexible approach: Greenhills has set flexible parameters to support any, and all, giving goals. Each employee can donate to the firm’s chosen charity – Redkite – or choose any other tax-deductible gift recipient. Greenhills believes that the ability for each individual to choose a cause important to them contributes to the success of the WPG program. Each employee is also able to select a donation amount of their choosing. The team donates approximately $50,000 through WPG each year and 40% of that goes to Redkite.  
  • Dollar-for-dollar donation matching – Greenhill matches team contributions which reiterates the firm’s commitment to WPG.  

The Greenhill WPG strategy  

In 2016, Australian senior leadership set out to improve the company’s WPG program.  

They introduced an opt-out strategy whereby employees are automatically signed up to contribute to Redkite unless they confidentially opt-out of the WPG program or choose an alternative charity.  

When a new staff member joins the team, the WPG program is communicated to them verbally in a one-on-one context, which gives them the opportunity to ask any questions they have.  

Prior to the new strategy, participation rate in the Greenhills WPG program was 37%. That grew to 100% once the new strategy had been fully implemented, and participation has stayed at that level for four consecutive years

Heritage Bank 

Margo Dewar, Chief People Officer at Queensland-based Heritage Bank shared learnings from their WPG program refresh. Following the large project that involved a three-month campaign of activities and a generous period of triple matching, Heritage Bank was a winner in the Best Launch/Refresh category in the 2021 Workplace Giving Awards. 

Margo’s takeaways 

In a recent staff survey about employee engagement and what attracts people to work for Heritage Bank, connection to purpose and community came through as significant factors as to why people valued working for the business.  

It is this alignment that drove the establishment of the Heritage Bank Charitable Foundation – a vehicle that harnesses the collective strength of the bank, its staff and its members to support vulnerable Australians. Launched in 2019, it opened its first round of community grants in 2020.  

The WPG program was also launched in 2019, but participation was minimal for the first 20 months – hence the decision to revisit the program. These are the thoughts the team considered when planning the refresh: 

  • Research of other leading programs in the industry and understanding their key success factors.  
  • Ensuring senior executives were on board.  
  • Carefully considering the launch date so that it did not conflict with other demands on staff. 
  • Where funds would go – with the decision that all WPG funds would be channelled into the charitable foundation.  

The refresh resulted in a WPG program called ‘Our Shout’ that focused on the message that small, regular donations can add up to make a big difference.  

The launch was rolled out in a designated WPG week. The launch enabled Margo and other leaders to showcase the organisation’s charity partners (including the opportunity for those partners to deliver meet & greet sessions over Zoom to Heritage employees), speak about the impact of different levels of donations, and roll out the ‘Our Shout’ grant which gave staff the opportunity to directly influence the allocation of foundation funds.  

The “real kicker”, as Margo describes it, was that Heritage Bank tripled all WPG donations during the first three months of the new program.  

The outcomes  

In the three months following the relaunch:  

  • Participation rate grew by 55%.  
  • Staff donations totalled $8,118 – Heritage matching brought this up to $27,959.
  • Annual WPG donation increased by 61% in FY 20/21 compared to the year prior.  

Toyota Australia  

Toyota implemented a WPG program with Good2Give in 2013, which has gone on to contribute over $500,000 to charities around Australia. Presenting on behalf of Toyota Australia, Erin Lucas, Environment & Community Coordinator, shared insights into running a WPG program when giving values are pre-determined by an international parent company, and how they refreshed their program when their local workforce was significantly reduced. 

‘MWPG’ stands for ‘matched workplace giving’.  

Erin’s takeaways  

  • Unlike the other organisations in the webinar, the Toyota WPG program takes an employee-up approach, believing that the philanthropy journey starts with causes staff have a passion for – the program is therefore open-choice.  
  • The program is also opt-in, with Erin acknowledging the company’s more conservative stance that prefers a more self-motivated and self-driven approach to WPG.  
  • Donations are matched dollar-for-dollar, with matching capped at $1000 per employee per year.  

The shape of Toyota’s giving  

Erin explains that the Australian outpost is obligated to closely align with the Japanese parent company, Toyota Motor Corporation, and therefore the global company giving areas are pre-determined: environment, traffic safety, education and local community / employee-initiated activities.  

In Australian , however, Toyota is committed to working towards to United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and has identified the SDGs they believe can provide maximum impact to Australian society:  

Starting in 2021, Toyota Australia committed to donating 1% of pre-tax profit to social impact activities, amounting to $3.56 million in FY20/21. The business also wants to be the number one company in Australia contributing to carbon neutrality and mobility by 2030.  

In terms of overall social impact, Toyota Australia’s WPG program accounts for a fairly small proportion of a much larger giving portfolio, with a greater emphasis given to funding road safety projects, Indigenous partnerships, and future research projects related to carbon neutrality and mobility. This is reflected in a slow, steady and moderate promotion of the WPG program, with participation impacted by manufacturing closure in 2017 that reduced the workforce in Australia from 5000 to 1000 employees.  

In short, Toyota see their WPG program as a tool to engage with employees, rather than a major player in their overall giving strategy.  

United Way Australia 

Marla Bozic is the Head of Partnerships at United Way Australia, which received the Most Innovative Charity and Employer Partnership at the 2021 Workplace Giving Awards for their work with Costco. United Way Australia is a nonprofit organisation that connects community, business, government and philanthropy. With Costco, they have helped raise $240,000 in one year alone for charity partners across Australia.  

Marla’s takeaways 

Firstly, Marla is well-versed in WPG – she hails from the US where WPG culture flows strong through the corporate landscape. United Way is a significant player in the US WPG space and so Costco approached the nonprofit in Australia confident they could help implement their giving program here.  

There are three things Marla thinks makes a WPG program successful: 

  1. Executive leadership buy-in – it needs to come from the top. Costco’s CEO leads the discussions for WPG.
  2. WPG champions – the Costco warehouses with the best champions are the ones with best results – simple as that! In order to spruik WPG at their site, champions are tasked with creating fund activities that inspire a culture of giving.  
  3. Choice – choosing a charity that speaks to staff interests.  

Adapting to the pandemic 

The Costco WPG program had been based on a face-to-face structure prior to COVID-19, with the United Way team visiting warehouses and taking directly to staff. ‘CostcoFest’ was the team’s answer to overcoming social isolation – a campaign of three-minute videos created by each warehouse about what WPG means to them. A panel of judges chose the winning video, and the campaign was successful in sparking creativity and fun during a challenging time.  

Hitting goals  

Costco’s goal was to achieve 30% WPG participation across all its warehouses. The graph below shows the outcome. The difference in results between warehouses? Having a WPG champion.  

Overall, WPG has grown to 38% amongst Costco Australia’s staff, raising $239,800 in 2020 including matched giving (Costco provides matching for $0.60 of every WPG dollar, capped at $100,000 per annum). This was more than double 2019’s result.  

Costco’s WPG funds are distributed to the RSPCA, Beyond Blue, the Australian Red Cross, United Way and multiple children’s hospitals across Australia.  

The Key Ingredients

We’ll keep this brief. From the webinar, we surmise that the key ingredients for a successful corporate WPG program are:   

  • Opt-in – automatically onboarding employees to the program with the option to opt-out. 
  • Flexibility – that gives employees choice with respect to both charity recipient and amount given. 
  • Dollar matching – it’s a no-brainer! 
  • Champions – people who will advocate for a WPG program amongst their peers
  • A top-down approach. If CEOs and senior executives demonstrate their belief and commitment to a WPG program, employees will follow.  

To watch the webinar in full, click here.  

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