Effective Philanthropy Report
17 February 2003 at 12:02 pm
Australia’s top companies are giving less to the community according to a new report into Effective Philanthropy which shows a fall in donations of 8% in 2001/02.
However, the report by Corporate Good Works found modest gains on ‘program impact, targeting and sustainability, while transparency and governance remain the key concerns’.
Corporate Good Works is a Sydney based consultancy led by Brian Babington. The organisation helps companies find and manage community relationships.
Effective Philanthropy Report 2003 (EPR) is designed to encourage improvements in the performance and credibility of corporate-community programs. It examines the performance of Australia’s top 100 public companies in the four key areas of community welfare and relief, education and training, health and medical research and the environment.
Brian Babington says the report appears at this time because Corporate Good Works believes that a new model of philanthropy in Australia is urgently required.
Babington says the new model envisages philanthropy as a basic part of corporate business planning and leadership, and as a resource which needs to be spent well if it is to grow in size and impact.
The report highlights include:
Australia’s top 100 public companies voluntarily devoted an estimated $112 million in 2001/02 to community programs, compared with $121 million in the previous year – an 8% fall.
As in the previous year, in 2001/02, 45 of the top 100 companies either do not appear to support community causes or do not publicly report on them.
The top 10 companies – BHP Billiton, Telstra, Commonwealth Bank, Westpac, ANZ Bank, National Australia Bank, Woodside, Fosters, Woolworths and Rio Tinto – spent an estimated $64 million in 2001/02; they accounted for almost 60% of total funds given by the top 100 to community social and environmental causes.
The 8% fall in community support in 2001/02 amongst the top 100 public companies compared with the previous year can be attributed largely to global economic uncertainty following September 11.
Continuing global economic volatility is likely to mean that leading Australian companies may be reluctant about committing to new or expanded community programs at least in the short term.
Brian Babington says that in terms of corporate leadership and plain good business sense, there is no better time to be taking the initiative on community responsibility.
He says clearly the public is expecting far more from the private sector than ever before and now is the time to deliver on that growing expectation.
In the area of transparency Babington says the top ten companies are still performing well in terms of a high level of disclosure, but the rest need to lift their game.
The report says as was in the case of 2000/01 31 of the top 100 companies either partially or fully disclosed in their Annual Reports the amount of funding for the community organisations which they supported.
The other 24 companies which gave to the community either did not specify which organisations they supported or did not state the level of donation.
Babington says reporting on the governance of community programs was also significantly absent. Only a handful of participating companies stated publicly how they managed their programs; either through a Fund, Foundation or Trust.
Babington concludes that for the community sector, better organised and resourced charities are likely to fare better than smaller organisations, although the heightened challenge for all is demonstrating value for money and suitability as a partner for prospective corporate clients.
For business, the focus on corporate governance arrangements, and continued calls from government for expanded corporate responsibility will produce pressure for stronger community program management within companies.
If you would like to read the completed report go to www.corporategoodworks.com.au/report/2003/index.html