A Hundred Years Young and Thriving

From the judges: “The structure of the grants is smart for staff engagement, as well as benefiting different types of charities.”

Commonwealth Bank’s Community Grants program is one of the largest and longest running employee giving programs of its kind in Australia. Employee giving was first initiated by the bank a century ago as a war relief effort, and today 13,752 current and retired staff regularly donate a portion of their income to the program.

The Community Grants program is an integral part of the company’s corporate responsibility plan and provides an avenue in which staff can contribute to their communities in a meaningful and impactful way. It is also central to how Commonwealth Bank engages its workforce and builds pride in the organisation. 40.3% of Commonwealth Bank staff contribute to the program, and in the 2017 financial year they donated $1.7M. All money raised is dollar-matched by the Bank, with proceeds distributed to community organisations that support the wellbeing of young Australians.

Commonwealth Bank has adopted an ‘opt-out’ approach to sign-ups, with all new employees automatically included in the program at a standard contribution of $4 a fortnight (they can of course withdraw from the program at any time). This has enabled the focus of the program to be on celebrating the incredible outcomes achieved, with major internal and external marketing campaigns telling great stories of employee giving in this centenary year. Successful Community Grants recipients receive funding over three years to enable substantial outcomes – more than $9M will be disbursed to 220 organisations over the next three years.

An Advisory Committee of staff from across the business evaluate all applications and select the program’s major national charity partner. This is currently Clown Doctors, who are receiving $1.2M over three years, plus support of their annual fundraising initiative, Smile Day, which raised an additional $187k for the organisation in 2017.

The program also awards State and Territory Grants of up to $300,000 over three years and a category for grassroots organisations who can receive up to $30,000 over the three years. Employees who donate to the Community Grants program are given the opportunity to vote on those grants distributed within their area, ensuring a high level of engagement and ownership.
Commonwealth Bank covers all administration and activation costs for the program, ensuring 100% of funds raised go directly to the community.