Beyond the exception: workplace giving in the 21st century


Lisa Grinham, CEO of Good2Give and Dr Lisa O’Brien, CEO of The Smith Family and Chair of the Charity Taskforce, Australian Charities Fund, discuss workplace giving in this guest blog. Our sincere thanks to them for their wonderful contribution.

Strange to think that despite the increasing sophistication of employers bringing to life corporate social responsibility in their companies, workplace giving remains an outlier.

A workplace giving program allows employees to make a donation direct from their pre-tax pay, meaning donors receive their tax benefits immediately. This in turn saves charities from having to administer thousands of tax receipts for each workplace giving donation they receive – saving precious time and money.

And companies who administer these programs frequently choose to boost staff goodwill by matching their donations. It looks like this. $70 from the donor’s pocket, $30 forfeited by the ATO, and $100 from the company – turns into $200 for the recipient charity. Plus little to no administration for the payroll team or the charity. That’s a win all round.

Yet despite all our advancements over the last ten years, workplace giving in Australia isn’t growing as quickly as it could. Few Australian employers and employees are participating. Why? Especially when it’s the most tax-effective model of giving for all parties involved.

One of the key reasons has been the paperwork and due diligence employers have had to grapple with to facilitate donations to any number of charities.

Fortunately there are now sophisticated intermediaries delivering not only due diligence services but technology platforms.

With these advancements it’s easy for companies to provide their staff the opportunity to give to any charity they care about – whether they have a dedicated corporate social responsibility strategy or not.

Of course we’d argue there are more benefits to be gained when companies choose to fully invest in making their workplace giving program successful.

Because workplace giving is more than just another channel through which they can engage their staff.  It helps to integrate individual giving into the organisation’s heart and pulse. And the giving may be donations, but it could also be gifts of time or gifts of people’s skills to support a charity’s needs.

We know that implementing workplace giving has always been more challenging for employers who don’t have dedicated resources or a corporate social responsibility strategy in play that they can mobilise staff giving around. We’ve found this especially in government bodies, small to medium sized businesses, and sometimes even charities who may be sensitive to promoting fundraising for other charities internally.

So we’d say to these enterprises, don’t write it off as too hard. A simple search online for workplace giving support will show you that there are many charities, like The Smith Family, who are willing to help.  For the not-for-profit sector donations from workplace givers are a much-valued source of funding.  Small regular gifts have a cumulative effect. It is this type of regular giving that helps to build a sustainable funding base for charities.

And there’s more simplicity on offer with platforms that have revolutionised giving online. For example mobile responsive platforms like Good2Give, allow staff to give anytime anyway. They can make a regular contribution to a charity of their choice, or as cash handling disappears, still make a one-off donation for a morning tea fundraiser or help support an emergency appeal.

Not surprisingly, the ease of using these platforms has helped drive an increase in online giving from individuals through workplace giving. And with social interactivity part of our everyday lives, good to see that our workplace giving platforms have tapped into the trend.

Through these platforms companies can build a corporate community of giving by tracking top trending charities among colleagues and profiling company supported appeals. Companies can amplify their employees’ contribution by matching donations, profiling colleague generosity and communicating senior leadership participation.

And yes, it takes planning, resource and effort but there’s proven impact on corporate pride and loyalty among staff. According to Good2Give’s latest research of 1000 workplace givers, 86 per cent said their company’s workplace giving program made them more proud to work there.

For employers too there are tools that deliver greater understanding of program performance within their sector or versus similarly sized organisations. For example, professional services firms have on average nearly 20 per cent of their staff who give via workplace giving – now that’s a great target to strive for.  Tools worth reviewing include Good2Give’s Industry Evaluation and the One Million Donors campaign which is working hard to promote the benefits of workplace giving to employers.*

So we say it’s time to think of workplace giving as the norm for employers and employees.

The tools are there, the systems are there, the data demonstrating the benefits is there, the individual will to give is there and the charities certainly need the support.

There are businesses right now leading the space. Our call now is for more to join them to help move workplace giving beyond the exception to the norm.

*There are a number of workplace giving providers available in Australia. Good2Give and ACF are two examples.

2 responses

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  1. Ash Rosshandler

    It’s good to see this conversation but it would be beneficial to include other providers. For example Give Where You Live, Benojo and GoodCompany. For the record, GoodCompany is our organisation and facilitates Australia’s first Workplace Giving and Volunteering Platform. Our partners include OPTUS, IAG, CSL, AECOM, Flight Centre and many more Employers of Choice. The platform empowers their staff to give simply and easily give their Time (general volunteering), Talent (skilled volunteering) and Treasure (donating once off and ongoing) to help support over 1500 charities. we too believe it’s time to think of workplace giving as the norm for employers and employees.

    • Wendy Scaife

      Thanks Ash :). As you rightly point out there are many providers of the various giving and volunteering vehicles mentioned in our blogs and we acknowledge and celebrate the diversity of offerings. Let’s hope we see that norm of workplace giving soon.

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