Government Role to Promote Workplace Giving
20 December 2012 at 9:21 am
The Australian Charities Fund has called for a co-ordinated, government-funded national campaign to promote workplace giving to employers, employees and Deductible Gift Recipients (DGRs).
The Not for Profit made the call in a submission in response to the Commonwealth Treasury's discussion paper about Not for Profit tax concessions. In November, the Federal Government released a discussion paper seeking public submissions on how tax concessions can be improved to assist the NFP sector called Fairer, simpler and more effective tax concessions for the not-for-profit sector.
“Our experience and research has shown that fostering awareness of workplace giving, as well as highlighting its benefits to employers, employees and charities, is vital to engaging employers and maximising participation,” the Chief Executive Officer of the Australian Charities Fund Edward Kerr said.
The Australian Charities Fund believes that a workplace giving awareness campaign should have two key objectives:
1. Growing awareness: raising awareness and highlighting the benefits of workplace giving to grow the adoption of workplace giving. In particular, the ACF believes that any awareness campaign will achieve greater impact if it is underpinned by the business case for workplace giving and has the strong support of leading CEOs of employers with successful workplace giving programs; and
2. Growing participation: based on ATO taxation statistics for the financial year ending 30 June 2011, only 4.9% of the employees at the 3,412 employers through which workplace giving donations were made donated via payroll deductions and less than 1.5% of all Australian employees donated via payroll deductions.Best practice programs have participation rates well over 30% and our research indicates around 70% of employees would be interested in workplace giving but need to be asked well.
Accordingly, the Australian Charities Fund says there is significant scope to grow workplace giving by building participation in these organisations by providing them with the appropriate resources to grow high impact workplace giving programs.
Also, it says, there are many thousands more organisations who do not currently allow workplace giving to which an awareness campaign should be targeted.
“In designing a targeted workplace giving awareness campaign, there should be an emphasis on promoting workplace giving to senior business leaders. In our experience, visible and vocal support from senior management for workplace giving is vital to developing a successful workplace giving program and our most successful programs are in organisations where CEOs and senior management have communicated the vision and business objectives for the organisation’s workplace giving program,” Kerr said.
The Australian Charities Fund submission also recommends Legislative amendments to encourage the wide-scale adoption of “opt-out” workplace giving programs.
It says the adoption of “opt-out” workplace giving programs could significantly drive the growth of workplace giving in Australia.
“An “opt out” process involves modest regular workplace giving contributions being deducted from an employee’s pay unless the employee elects to “opt out” of the workplace giving program," Kerr said.
“Although “opt out” can be implemented currently in respect of new employees (because the employee gives their written consent when agreeing to their employment terms), section 324 of the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cwlth) (the “Fair Work Act”) restricts “opt-out” from being introduced in respect of an employer’s existing employees."
The submission also points to encouraging all payroll software providers to incorporate workplace giving functionality into their software, and creating an exception for workplace giving to the threshold for deductible gifts.
The Australian Charities Fund is a Not for Profit social enterprise set up to facilitate engaged employee giving by connecting employers and charities through advice, capacity building, facilitation and leadership.