Adaptability is Key to 60 Years of Partnership

From the judges, “This partnership should be celebrated for its longevity and value, surviving and flourishing for over sixty years.”

The Give Where You Live Foundation’s partnership with vehicle manufacturer Ford Australia must be one of Australia’s longest. Over 60 years Ford employees have donated in excess of $3 million to the Foundation’s mission to create long-term sustainable change for the most vulnerable community members in the Geelong region.

Ford Australia employees were part-founders of the original version of the Foundation and also integral to the establishment of its Workplace Giving program. This started as a 10-week annual campaign, later evolving into year-round giving.

Key to keeping staff engaged with the Foundation’s work is the ‘Loaned Executive Program’ where Ford staff are seconded to the Foundation to learn about its work and provide assistance. Importantly, when they return to Ford the employee presents to their peers a first-hand account about the impact of their donations in the community. As well as keeping the workforce informed about the Foundation’s output, this approach has provided opportunities for Ford staff to develop their presentation skills and grow confidence. The ‘Loaned Executive Program’ recently celebrated its 50th anniversary with a celebratory event on the factory floor.

The Foundation only funds local organisations, providing a tangible opportunity for employees to ‘give back’ to their own community. The distribution of donations is very inclusive, with all donors given the opportunity to sit on the annual Grant Review Panel assessing and make recommendations about where funds are distributed.

Ford Australia’s senior management are passionate about Workplace Giving and ensure it is a strong part of the team culture. Participation in the program is seen as a ‘rite of passage’ for staff.

As a global business, Ford Australia has changed over the years and the Give Where You Live Foundation has had to adapt with it. Moving into 2017, the partnership will evolve again as Ford Australia’s manufacturing facility closes, however the two organisations are working together to ensure that the culture of giving continues.