Working Australians embracing smart donations

November 21, 2017

Don’t discount workplace giving as a form of fundraising. According to Catherine Gibson, Senior Marketing Manager at The Australian Charities Fund, there is much to be gained from forming such partnerships with corporates.

Imagine a fundraising channel that offers years of regular, reliable, untied donations. To those working at the competitive frontline of fundraising this may sound like an unattainable dream, but the good news is that it does exist in the form of workplace giving, and it is on the rise in Australia.

At a time when fewer people are making donations than they were a decade ago, workplace giving is bucking the trend. Recent Australian Taxation Office data shows that not only are more people giving in this way, but the total amount being donated has increased over time. There are now nearly 200,000 Australians giving an estimated $70 million through work (including employer donation matching) each year.

Social enterprise and leading Workplace Giving advocate, The Australian Charities Fund (ACF), sees enormous potential for the channel.

“Not only does Workplace Giving deliver low-cost funding to the charity sector, but employers are increasingly understanding that it is an effective tool for staff engagement – a notoriously tricky area for many leaders,” says Jenny Geddes, CEO.

What is workplace giving?

In its simplest form, workplace giving starts with employees making small donations direct to charity from their pay, receiving an immediate tax deduction. Sometimes referred to as ‘payroll giving’, it typically forms the foundation of an organisation’s broader community investment such as volunteering, fundraising events, pro bono and in-kind support.

ACF sees workplace giving as the smart way for working Australians to donate to charity. As well as the tax benefit, it offers an efficient system where the money can go direct from their payroll to the charity, avoiding charges by for-profit intermediaries.

“Workplace Giving donations are typically small amounts from each pay run, which are not missed by the individual. However, when pooled with the donations from colleagues, and often matched by their employer, the amount can be immense. Many involved in workplace giving talk about the pride they feel when they see real societal change happening as a result of funding they have contributed to,” says Geddes.

The partnership between retailer JB Hi-Fi and children’s charity The Song Room offers a fantastic example of how a strong workplace giving relationship can deliver great outcomes in the community.

The partnership between the retailer and The Song Room started with payroll donations, but it was soon recognised that their shared passion for music could lead to more. This resulted in the creation of the ‘PlayAir’ campaign where $2 ‘air instruments’ – a small package designed in the shape of instruments such as guitars and saxophones, but containing only air – are sold in JB Hi-Fi stores nationally, with 100% of sales going to the charity.

Now, JB Hi-Fi’s workplace giving program plays a key role in supporting organisational culture, with 81% of staff choosing to donate to their choice of nine charity partners.

The Song Room’s CEO, Caroline Aebersold, credits the ‘PlayAir’ campaign’s success to the overall strength of the partnership.

“The JB Hi-Fi team members are strongly engaged with our work through their personal donations, so they bring an extra level of energy and motivation to their support of the campaign. We’ve seen ‘air bands’ formed that even produce rock clips, album covers and hold in-store performances!” she says.

JB Hi-Fi has raised nearly $2 million for The Song Room via workplace giving donations and ‘PlayAir’. This has enabled an incredible 25,000 disadvantaged children to receive the benefits of music and the arts in their education.

Award-winning partnership

The success of the partnership was recognised at the recent Workplace Giving Excellence Awards, where it won the Gold Award for Most Innovative Charity/Employer Partnership – an honour it shared in a tie with children’s cancer charity Redkite.

ACF has set the bold goal of getting one million Australians donating through work by 2020, believing this will provide a ‘tipping point’ where the funding model for charities will be transformed. All charities and employers are encouraged to support the campaign, with ACF providing plenty of free resources for those looking to create or improve their workplace giving offering.

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