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Corporate generosity survives the pandemic two years running

7 December 2021 at 8:18 am
Maggie Coggan
New data finds top Aussie companies are holding tight to community commitments, despite the ongoing pandemic 

Maggie Coggan | 7 December 2021 at 8:18 am


Corporate generosity survives the pandemic two years running
7 December 2021 at 8:18 am

New data finds top Aussie companies are holding tight to community commitments, despite the ongoing pandemic 

Predictions of corporate generosity dropping off in the face of the pandemic have been proven wrong, with new data revealing Australia’s largest companies dug deeper than ever in 2021. 

Strive Philanthropy’s annual GivingLarge report found that community contributions from corporate Australia remained at an all-time high, with the top 50 companies collectively giving away $1.2 billion to philanthropic causes across the year. 

This figure is up $42 million from 2020, with BHP, Coles, CSL, Rio Tinto and Commonwealth Bank emerging as the most generous corporate groups of 2021. 

Report author and Strive Philanthropy founder Jarrod Miles said despite concerns that corporate giving levels would drop off as the pandemic wore on, this year’s data has shown the exact opposite. 

“Last year’s figures were encouraging but did leave us concerned about a possible drop in community investment this year, worrying that companies would respond to lower profits and an ongoing pandemic by tightening their purse strings,” Miles told Pro Bono News.  

“Perhaps the most pleasing result of this year’s research was to see that this prediction didn’t play out [and] that companies held tight to their community budgets despite these challenges.”  

The report found that 10 of the top 50 companies even increased their community investment by more than 20 per cent, with the increase from the top four donors adding up to more than $63 million. It was this increase that ensured steady funding totals in 2021.

The largest percentage of contributions (measured by profit over a rolling three years) were from Coles, Star Entertainment, TAB Corp, South32 and Oil Search.   

Coles ranked number one in percentage contribution, contributing $124 million or 8.7 per cent of the company’s profit on a rolling three-year basis. This contribution went towards food rescue, health and disaster relief.  

Sally Fielke, Coles corporate affairs general manager, said that in a year when many Australians experienced severe hardship as a result of the pandemic, the company was pleased to work with customers, team members and suppliers to provide community support. 

“A key component of our community support were our donations of unsold, edible food – equivalent to more than 35 million meals – to help feed vulnerable Australians as we work toward our long-term aspiration for zero waste and zero hunger,” Fielke said.  

Contributions to the environment saw an 18 per cent increase in investment compared with  2020, however most giving (68 per cent) continued to be directed towards health, education and social welfare causes.  

Philanthropy Australia CEO Jack Heath said that collecting this kind of corporate giving data was critical.

“The data is essential in not only understanding how corporate Australia engages in philanthropy, but also to provide inspiring examples of the innovative and transformative ways some of our businesses do their giving,” Heath said.  

But he said despite the encouraging totals there was still significant opportunity for growth in corporate philanthropy. 

“The future for philanthropy is to become more generous,” he said. 

“But it’s also about being more strategic and focused in our giving: our corporate leaders have a critical role to play in leading and driving that change.”

See a full copy of this year’s report here.  

Maggie Coggan  |  Journalist  |  @MaggieCoggan

Maggie Coggan is a journalist at Pro Bono News covering the social sector.

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