Pratt Urges Corporate Giving Re-think
27 January 2005 at 12:01 pm
Australian entrepreneur and philanthropist Richard Pratt has called on corporates to openly discuss their ‘giving’ with shareholders and re-think the benefits of corporate community involvement.
Pratt recently delivered the 2005 Australia Day Address in Sydney and described himself as a ‘dinky di’ Australian with an outsider’s perspective on just how special Australia is.
Regarded as Australia’s biggest private philanthropist donating $11million annually, Richard Pratt was born in Poland and immigrated to Australia with his family at the age of four, in 1938.
He grew up to become one of Australia’s richest men, making his fortune from packaging and recycling. His companies are private companies and he admits that because of this no one can tell him how to spend his money.
After the Address he expanded his discussion on corporate giving during an interview on the ABC’s Radio National.
Pratt says listed companies should openly discuss ‘giving’ with shareholders.
He suggests that a special AGM should be held just to discuss a corporates involvement and plans for partnerships, sponsorships and planned giving on a local and national and international scale.
He says a company’s shareholders should be told how corporates can benefit from giving, and corporates should appeal to their shareholders self–interests and explain the benefits of tax incentives that come with giving.
Information about the value of social investment should drive these discussions.
He says for example the tax benefits of giving to the arts through AbaF (Australian Business Arts Foundation) programs has proved very successful for both the companies and the charities.
Pratt says community partnerships offer companies a chance to make sure charities are run properly with the added benefit for staff of a boost in morale.
He says the tax structure is not the only reason that corporates should give – it’s just an incentive.
However he suggested that since companies are not good at philanthropy, a tax rebate should go to those that donate at least 1 per cent of annual profits to community groups
Peer pressure is also a powerful tool.
Pratt says that if he makes a donation to a cause he will often ring a friend in business to also contribute and he rarely gets a knock-back!
The future of corporate giving was part of Pratt’s vision for the country in the Australia Day Address which also called for the annual migration intake to be lifted from the present 120,000 a year to 250,000 and for Australia to aim for a population of 50 million.
His address also contained more headline grabbing comments about government debt in which he says the time has come to take on new debt to help secure the nation’s future.
He says debt is good. At least the right kind of debt is good and that the nation needed to go into debt to build or rebuild ageing infrastructure.
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