It's hard to believe that it was only two decades ago that Gordon Gekko told us greed was good and the notion of corporate social responsibility was still new. However, it was also way back in the 50s that Howard Rothmann Bowen, the “Father of Corporate Social Responsibility” reported that businessmen had responsibilities in a much broader social context.
Of recent times, there aren’t many successful corporations worth their salt that don’t give back, through foundations, charitable partnerships, volunteering programs and other initiatives. And charities simply couldn’t survive without the might of Australian businesses to support their work in changing the world. Increasingly generous, the top 50 corporate donors gave away $1.1 billion to philanthropic causes last year.
But corporate giving becomes even more powerful when employees get involved. June is Workplace Giving Month, again bringing our attention to the opportunity for staff to collaborate in raising funds for their favourite causes through an ATO-endorsed, tax-effective donation program. Put simply, staff choose an amount they would like to donate from their regular wage tax free, and the employer sends the donations directly to the selected charity. Donations can be as little as the cost of a cup of coffee, but cumulatively, they all really add up.
Beyond the invaluable funds raised through workplace giving, there are some (not so) surprising outcomes enjoyed by employers, employees, and of course the beneficiaries themselves.
Employers such as JB HiFi, who are leaders in workplace giving, having recently ratcheted up over $25m in workplace giving, have generously shared the unintended benefits the scheme have delivered to their business. These include impressive employee retention and engagement statistics which in the competitive retail space is a big plus - proving the saying that hard work really is the glue of great teams and that employees truly value working for organisations who make it easy for them to make a difference in the world.
Naturally, their charities appreciate the support, rounding out the trifecta workplace giving presents.
For any organisation considering implementing a workplace giving program, there are some common features in successful programs including giving teams the opportunity to run the scheme themselves. With the support of an Executive sponsor advocating the program from the top, through a staff elected committee, teams choose the causes they wish to support, managing stakeholder communications and relationship with their charities of their own accord.
At Be Someone For Someone, we know first-hand that the closer staff are to the impact of their giving, the greater the feel-good factor.
Programs can take all sorts of creative approaches. Take AFL Global for example, who annually hold their Imagine That! Giving Campaign – employees in every country donating to chosen causes. In 2020, that luckily was Be Someone For Someone, with the US parent matching every dollar contributed by the Australian team. We are grateful to CEO Tony Dunstan and his crew for helping us tackle loneliness. Or, in another example, Adobe, whose creativity was put to great use creating personal cards for lonely seniors for us to give out at Christmas time. Adobe donated the equivalent of the wages bill – every dollar going towards Christmas hampers for isolated seniors. The options are endless.
Throughout Workplace Giving Month, we’ll be calling on organisations and the teams within them to consider a program that might work for them. After all, there’s so much potential. The top 150 schemes in Australia donated $38m last year to charities but in fact that’s a tiny 1.5% of businesses and employees that could potentially take part. And that’s what Workplace Giving Month is all about.
Generously, many of the employers with well established schemes (and their crew) are willing to share best practice – and the benefits they have enjoyed as a result of their programs, with any organisation interested in learning more. Workplace Giving Australia is an NFP established purely to boost Workplace Giving with a lofty goal of achieving 1 million donors and their website is full of tools and tips.
Meanwhile, the team at Be Someone For someone is able to help with tools and resources, case studies and FAQs to assist in establishing a scheme. Naturally, we hope that we might become one of the causes your organisation chooses to support – but that’s up to your staff!
Whether you are a leader or team member, get in touch and we can show how workplace giving can work for you.