Let’s simplify workplace giving to boost donations

Originally posted on Philanthropy Australia

I like to think of myself as a positive person.

For FY19, the ATO’s data told us that while giving fell overall, the number of employees donating using workplace giving is on the rise. In fact, $43 million was donated by employees through workplace giving in that tax year alone; and when you add in company matching, the real figure is more like $70 million.

With the lag in reporting, we can only speculate on what the FY20 results will be, but I’m confident we’ll see workplace giving donations continue to increase. After wave upon wave of social and environmental crises, we’ve seen donor engagement sustain, and grow.

So, when I see statistics like the recent ATO data on the FY19 rise in workplace giving donations, it’s an inspiration to keep pushing harder and thinking differently. It’s encouraging news, although somewhat clouded by the wider statistic that giving overall has decreased.

However, and perhaps more importantly within this wider context, workplace giving continues to represent a huge opportunity for the charitable sector. I can’t help thinking this is where the opportunity lies for corporates and charities alike. Donors are showing us where they want to donate – via their workplace giving programs – we need to support and service that demand.

Research tells us there is a direct correlation between employee engagement, productivity, staff attraction and retention.

Drawing consumers into workplace-based giving as a part of culture creates a framework that makes giving part of our normal routine. Just as easily as we buy our daily coffee, we make our regular donations. In fact, we’ve seen clients have great success with campaigns based around this very premise, ie: donate the cost of your daily cup of coffee. The corporates saw a massive increase in engagement, and charities benefitted from the cumulative effect of small regular donations, dollar matched by the corporate.

In programs like this, workplace giving can provide an easy pathway to the holy grail for every charity – regular workplace giving donors. Offering a genuine lifeline for charities, regular workplace giving donors are the secret ingredient to ensure continuity of revenue. The guaranteed income regular donation provides is vital in helping charities reliably fund their operations and approach the future with confidence. With the uncertainty faced by so many organisations during the last 18 months, regular donors are more than an opportunity, they are a necessity.

In short, make donating easy to do and make it work for me, the donor. It’s not an unreasonable request and top of mind at the moment with the end of financial year speeding towards us. As we search our memories, handbags and emails for lost receipts, it’s clear there has to be a better way to keep a track of things! The ability to maximise the benefits of pre-tax giving, and remove the need for keeping receipts, is pretty appealing to donors. A reliable and service-oriented workplace giving platform takes that hassle away.

Donors also look for choice, and they want to be sure their money is going to a bona fide charity. Rigorous charity validation is required to maintain donor confidence, along with the capability for a donor to self-select their preferred charity recipient. There is also a need to be able to switch to crisis mode. As we have seen so many times in the past 18 months, donors are incredibly motivated to support communities and causes in times of extreme crisis. If a workplace giving platform can’t adapt quickly to support that donor need, then it’s likely money will be left on the table.

As well as donors, we’ve recently seen corporates swing into action swiftly to support major crises or disaster appeals, such as the Australian Bushfires Crisis, the Beirut Explosions and the COVID-19 Crisis in Australia and India. There is a real desire to respond to crisis events immediately, demonstrating their organisation’s commitment to engaging with social responsibility on a corporate level. As an example, 93 percent of the donations that came through the Good2Give Workplace Giving Platform to aid charities supporting Australian Bushfires Crisis victims were matched by employers. That’s a huge commitment that resonates with employees.

For example, we’ve seen our collective giving model Giving Circles at Work deliver some exciting results around enhanced employee engagement, and positive personal outcomes that will influence workplace performance for the individuals involved. Not only that, but a closer connection to the beneficiaries builds a valuable, and more meaningful, relationship with the charities involved, and a greater understanding of their work.

Ultimately that’s what we’re all looking for here. A way to bring the importance and relevance of charitable giving into our everyday lives and converting that into action. The workplace is the perfect environment to encourage shared goals, positive culture, and a response to a market need. When the market in question is charitable giving, there are no losers here.

Lisa Grinham

Chief Executive Officer