Corporate Call to Action
22 October 2014 at 9:40 am
Businessman, philanthropist and former Australian of the Year Simon McKeon has issued a call to arms to Australian corporates to do more for the charity sector, speaking at an economic forum in South Australia.
McKeon told the Committee for Economic Development of Australia (CEDA) Forum on the Business of Giving that corporates need to connect more with Not for Profits without getting in the way of maximising profits.
He said while the rule over the last 10-20 years is for large listed companies to give one percent of their after-tax profits to charity, he doesn’t see this increasing any time soon as hard nosed investors question giving away shareholders money.
“However beyond this there is an enormous array of possibilities for corporate engagement with the Not for Profit sector,” McKeon said.
“There are creative ways of giving through employee workplace giving schemes for example but using the services of large corporate departments such as marketing and finance to offer their expertise to Not for Profits can provide enormous results.
“Making corporate talent available when their might some down time in the business can deliver something seriously profound for the Not for Profit sector,” he said.
McKeon said what he is seeing is that younger executives are now understanding the better business case for working with the Not for Profit sector.
He used the outcomes of a survey of staff from supermarket giant Coles as an example of realigning the business case for good.
When staff were asked at the end of a survey what irked them most about working at Coles, management were surprised that the most common answer was that they were annoyed that so much edible food was binned and dumped by the supermarket.
“Coles had spent decades getting the best food dumping rates but they found that thousands of staff members hated the process.
“The result was that through consultation with young management a partnership with food rescue Not for Profit Secondbite was born eventually delivering $5 million dollars in meals for the needy.
“This program costs Coles money but it’s a business decision with fantastic outcomes.”
McKeon said Not for Profit also need to work hard to find the ‘connectors’ within their own ranks who understand corporates and their constraints.
“My observation is that Not for Profits, for all the right reasons are talented freedom fighters doing remarkable work.
“However not all leaders are necessarily the best connectors to the corporate world and they will have to work harder to find those within the organisation to take up the challenges.”
Simon McKeon AO is Chairman Global Poverty Project Australia and Chairman of CSIRO as well as the 2011 Australian of the Year.
Other speakers at the Forum included Raymond Spencer, Chairman of the SA Economic Development Board and SAHMRI, Louise Walsh, Chief Executive Officer of Philanthropy Australia and Niki Vincent, CEO of the Leaders Institute of SA.