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Karen's thoughts on the Social Economy

The Impact of Employee Giving

Thursday, 28th November 2013

Yesterday I had cause to reflect on how far Corporate Social Responsibility has come since we started Pro Bono Australia over a decade ago.

I was in Brisbane on a panel to launch the Charities Aid Foundation's new whizz bang Workplace giving platform. The hope is that this platform will quadruple Workplace Giving in Australia by 2017 – from 50 million pa to 200 million. They won’t do it alone as other platforms are also being launched, but my sense is the profile of Workplace Giving will significantly rise in corporate Australia in 2014/15. All good.

The beauty of the platform is that it allows communication between the corporate employee/donor and the charities involved. It allows charities to build a relationship with the donor – and visa versa.

Part of the change is that these days neither are scared of the other. Corporates are now:

1.  less afraid of being inundated by the charities, who have become more sophisticated in their understanding of what kind of communication is effective, and

2. recognise the effectiveness of employee giving (particularly when done in conjunction with their own matched funding) on employee engagement, retention and morale.

3. Charities are starting to see the for-profit world less as the Evil Empire. Each sector is starting to see that the other is made up of HUMANs.

And now, they are talking the same language! One reason is that many people have moved between the sectors over the past decade as people have fled the corporate culture into the Not for Profit sector then back again, or Corporates have employed people with Not for Profit backgrounds in their CSR operations.

There is still a loooong way to go on many many fronts but coming soon are the days when corporates will recognise that volunteering and giving into Not for Profits – think team volunteering days to pack food or painting walls –  are mostly (not always) about the corporates agenda i.e a team building exercise rather than a favour to the charity. Dare I say it – corporate self awareness is happening!

There are many corporates and Not for Profits who are not as sophisticated as those in the room yesterday, but things are definitely moving.

Karen Mahlab AM is the Founder and CEO of Pro Bono Australia. In 2015 she was awarded a Member of the Order of Australia for her contribution to the Not for Profit sector and philanthropic initiatives.
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