Celebrating a Giving Australia and the Power of Partnerships
8 December 2016 at 11:02 am
In the wake of the recent release of the landmark Giving Australia report, the not-for-profit sector needs to raise awareness about the importance of giving and how it makes a difference, writes Krystian Seibert from Philanthropy Australia.
Last week saw the launch of Giving Australia 2016 at Parliament House in Canberra. An initiative of the Prime Minister’s Community Business Partnership, the project is the largest ever research effort into giving and volunteering in Australia.
According to the research, 14.9 million Australians gave $12.5 billion to charities and not-for-profit organisations over the 12 months to mid-2016. Almost half, 43.7 per cent, of Australians are volunteers – with 932 million hours volunteered over the same period. Business giving is also thriving – totalling $17.5 billion over the previous financial year.
If Giving Australia gives us the hard numbers (and it’s always great to have more data on giving), this week is all about showing how those numbers make a difference.
That’s because it’s Community and Philanthropy Partnership Week (CPPWeek), another initiative of the Prime Minister’s Community Business Partnership, managed by Philanthropy Australia in partnership with the Foundation for Rural and Regional Renewal.
CPPWeek celebrates the ways in which partnerships between grassroots community groups and philanthropy build vibrant and resilient communities, and there are some fantastic events happening all around Australia showcasing the power of partnerships.
When people in communities come together, pool their time, treasure and talent, amazing things to do happen.
I was reminded of that over the weekend, when I went to see the new film I, Daniel Blake. It was a very appropriate interlude between the launch of Giving Australia and CPPWeek.
It tells the story of people “left behind by the system”. Daniel Blake has a heart condition, and so he can’t work, but the UK Government’s Job Centre won’t provide him with the financial support he needs because he doesn’t meet its bureaucratic criteria – so he’s stuck.
Daniel gets to know a young single mother, Katie, and her two children, who had just left a homeless hostel and moved into a public housing flat in Daniel’s home town. On Katie’s first visit to the job centre, Katie gets lost, arrives late for her appointment and is therefore “sanctioned”. Her benefits are stopped, so she can’t feed her family properly nor heat their flat.
The story was very sad, but also special because of the bond struck up between Daniel, Katie and her two children. When the job centre’s “computer said no”, Daniel and Katie were humans who said yes to each other and tried to help each other out as best as they could. To an extent, they helped restore each other’s dignity.
But times were still tough, and so they went to a food bank run by a local charity. Once again, when the job centre’s “computer said no”, the people operating the food bank said yes and gave Katie and her children the dignity they deserved.
Now ideally, we shouldn’t need food banks – we should have the kind of “system” (with policies that provide a decent welfare system and ensure people have access to quality jobs) that doesn’t lead to people going hungry. But the food bank did strike me in three ways.
Firstly, it showed how responsive communities can be. The people running the food bank could sit back at home and watch TV all day long, but they didn’t because they knew that members of their community were in need.
Secondly, it also showed the power of partnerships. People sharing their time, businesses donating food – all working together.
Finally, it also made me think that although this was in Newcastle, UK, if it were in Australia, it would be exactly the kind of thing we’d be celebrating during CPPWeek.
CPPWeek is an opportunity to celebrate the responsiveness of communities and the fact that all around Australia, there are communities that care. When they see a problem or an opportunity, they come together to do something to address the problem or seize the opportunity. Like in I, Daniel Blake, they may not always be able to readily address the systemic issues which underpin a problem such as poverty, but they aren’t prepared to stand by and watch people be overlooked.
We’re celebrating the time and money that individuals, philanthropy and businesses give to “make things happen”. All around Australia, they come together and pool their collective resources and contribute what they can to try address the problem or seize the opportunity. Nobody is compelling them to do this, they are doing it because they know it’s the right thing to do. They show us the power of partnerships.
As part of CPPWeek, 19 groups shared in $152,000 in grants to help them celebrate their partnerships. Please take a moment to read about some of the fantastic organisations who received grants.
Coming back to Giving Australia 2016, the research identified factors found to encourage more giving. Two factors stood out to me.
Firstly, the importance of educational experience and exposure to giving and its impact. We need to raise awareness about the importance of giving and how it makes a difference – we see lots of coordinated public awareness campaigns about other things, but why not about giving? That’s why some time ago, I wrote about the need for a national giving campaign.
Secondly, the importance of pathways making giving easier – and community foundations were mentioned in that context. Community foundations do some great things in Australia, and the Community Foundation for Central Victoria is one of the CPPWeek grant recipients this year. But their potential is held back by our restrictive tax laws and that needs to change, something that I recently wrote about.
When I think about how we can have a more giving Australia, and see the power of partnerships at work in even more communities, these are two tangible actions which can help us achieve that.
CPPWeek will run until Sunday 11 December – so if you or your organisation has any partnerships you want to highlight, why don’t you get on social media and share them with the #CPPWeek hashtag!
About the author: Krystian Seibert is the policy and research manager at Philanthropy Australia.