On the Right Side for Children – Plan International Australia

International children’s rights charity, Plan International, has a vision of a world in which every boy and girl has the opportunity to realise their full potential regardless of religion, ethnicity or gender.

Plan also provide support where it’s needed most, which currently includes providing assistance to people in South Sudan who are experiencing a horrific famine. It’s been labelled as Africa’s largest humanitarian crisis and Plan are there to do what they can, with the help of their supporters, delivering lifesaving food and keeping children and women safe.

We spoke with Plan International Australia about the NGO’s recent strategic shift in striving for a just world that advances children’s rights and equality for girls, and how they plan to use workplace giving to help fund this important work globally.

Established in 1937, Plan International works in more than 52 developing countries. It exists to help provide children with access to their basic rights; education, food, clean water, health, protection, play and a good standard of living.

The NGO’s long list of successes and their inroads to improving access to basic rights for millions of people could fill these pages. Examples of their impact in the last financial year (2016-17) include:

  • Improved water supply for almost 17,000 people across Laos, Timor-Leste, Uganda and Zimbabwe.
  • More than 270,000 people across Pakistan having access to toilets, as well as the know-how to maintain their new facilities.
  • Over 11,000 disadvantaged young women and men across Asia and the Pacific receiving job skills training.
  • Life-saving food and farming support being provided to more than 880,000 children and adults across Cambodia, Central African Republic, Myanmar, Zimbabwe and South Sudan.

Supporting Girls like Len

In recent years Plan’s focus has shifted to prioritising the needs and rights of girls, with the organisation’s eyes set firmly on the Sustainable Development Goals adopted by world leaders at the 2015 UN Summit.

“In order to be equal we must ensure all girls are seen, heard and counted. That’s why Plan is leading a global movement to highlight issues of gender inequality, and create a world where girls everywhere have the opportunity to learn, lead, decide and thrive,” says Plan International Australia’s CEO, Ian Wishart.
Nineteen year old Len is just one example of the global organisation’s emphasis on supporting girls.

As a child, Len lived in a village on the outskirts of Siem Reap in Cambodia with her family. In her younger years she dropped out of school twice – first when she was only 8 years old – to help her parents on their farm.

After a number of attempts to return to school she never did. Len’s one and only priority became earning money for the family; US$1 a day at most. After her family home became impossible to live in, due to her father’s violence, Len had the opportunity to undertake a six-month vocational training course in cooking, as part of a partnership between Plan International and a local Cambodian organisation, Krousar Yoeung.

During the traineeship Len learnt basic cooking skills which led to her interest in starting a career as a cook.

After completing her training Len received a two-month paid internship at a five-star hotel in Siem Reap where she had the opportunity to develop her skills further, and to learn about the workings of a busy commercial kitchen. She now works full-time at the hotel earning US$80 per month.

Len sends money to her family and visits them regularly. It’s a world apart from her life as a young girl working on the family farm but she’s now independent and on the path to a positive future.

Accessing all Fundraising Pots

In support of Plan’s many programs worldwide and girls just like Len, accessing all fundraising opportunities here in Australia couldn’t be more important.

Along with a renewed focus on where the NGO can make the most impact, comes a renewed commitment to harness support from Australian businesses, large and small. This direction and commitment comes from the top down.

“Employee workplace donations and gifts from corporates are fast becoming the bedrock of giving in Australia,” says Ian. “It’s now a new radiating point of community compassion and at Plan these donations are providing clean water, food and school classrooms for needy children overseas.”

Scaling Up Workplace Giving

“We want to provide shared value to our supporters and we can do this through workplace giving,” says Imran Karim, Manager – Direct Marketing and Business Development at Plan International Australia.

“Employees become an advocate for change within their workplace and it provides significant gain for Plan and the business. We are all building a safer and fairer world for all children.”

For Plan there is an immediate and ongoing need to invest in the funding stream. Workplace giving currently contributes 6% of their total corporate income which they are hoping to increase.

And the potential is there. The 2016 Koda Capital Australian Giving Snapshot revealed the number of workplace giving donations is rising ($31 million was given to Australian charities in 2013/14) but there is still room to grow, with only 162,500 current workplace givers nationally.

Funds received from workplace donors, utilising the Good2Give platform, are predominantly directed to Plan’s child sponsorship program.

The impact of these donations addresses children’s basic rights – they are simple but crucial initiatives that have a real impact on children, their families and communities. Child sponsorship programs enable the improvement of school infrastructure, economic empowerment to families, school feeding programs, early childhood development and health care services. The basics that anyone needs to live a safe and healthy life.

For Plan, the incremental and ongoing nature of workplace giving can only do good, now and in the future.

“If just 10 per cent of Australian workers donated $5 per week through workplace giving, an extra $300 million would be raised for Australian charities every year,” says Imran. “Think of the good that could do.”

If your company has Good2Give’s workplace giving program in place, you can donate to Plan International while you work. If not, visit the charity’s website to support their life changing programs, services and innovations.