In recent years the popularity of workplace giving has soared. Arli Miller, communications manager at The Australian Charities Fund, tracks the enthusiasm for this form of giving.

In recent years the popularity of workplace giving has soared. Arli Miller, communications manager at The Australian Charities Fund, tracks the enthusiasm for this form of giving.

The introduction in Australia of a tax-effective program for employee donations in 2002 has resulted in tens of thousands of employees donating millions of dollars to not-for-profits through workplace giving programs.

In Australia there are three organisations that help companies to set up and administer workplace giving. They are: The Australian Charities Fund (ACF), United Way (UW) and Charities Aid Foundation (CAF).

Approximately $5 million was given to not-for-profits through ACF administered workplace giving programs in the last year, and we estimate that a further $3.5 – $4 million was donated through programs administered by CAF and UW combined.

The attraction to employees of giving through their workplace is that they can now make “pre-tax” donations which are immediately tax deductible.

ACF now works with 37 companies in the implementation and administration of workplace giving, but there are hundreds of companies now offering it. Across all programs offered by ACF, UW and CAF, we estimate 20-25,000 employees are now donating through their workplace in Australia.

Whilst workplace giving is accessible to all organisations, it is the larger companies that have tended to adopt it. ACF’s clients range across a number of industry sectors and include: AGL, ANZ, Bain International, Goldman Sachs JBWere, Mallesons Stephen Jaques, PricewaterhouseCoopers, OneSteel, Optus, Orica, and Suzanne Grae.

United Way quotes partnerships with Alcoa ARP, Boeing Australia, BankWest, Ford and ESSO amongst others. CAF manages programs for organisations such as Macquarie Bank, AMP, BP and Sydney Water Corporation.

The benefits to not-for-profits are enormous. Funds donated through workplace giving provide long-term, stable financial support for core programs with little or no administrative cost. There is no onus on the not-for-profit to receipt donations and there is no cost associated with attracting new donors.

The real power of workplace giving comes from large amounts of employees giving small amounts of money each pay, even as little as a few dollars a week. The average donation made by an employee giving through their workplace is $50 a month (for ACF clients).

The participation rate of employees taking up workplace giving varies considerably from organisation to organisation. For companies working with ACF the average rate of staff participation is 20%, but the highest ones achieve rates of 50%-70%.

In the UK the average participation rate is less than 5%, while in the US the average is 35%.

The participation rate is highly influenced by whether or not companies match the donations of their employees.

Who’s giving and how much?

ABN AMRO’s program, Opportunity for Giving, offered to all 650 employees (30% participation) resulted in Sunnyfield being able to put a $35,000 down payment on a home used to house four men with intellectual disabilities. The bank also helped supply materials for refurbishment of the house and a number of employees volunteered time on the weekend to get the house into top shape for the residents.

At AGL employees donated $44,000 through workplace giving, which was matched by the company. Additionally, staff gave $21,000 to the AGL Community Fund, which was also matched by AGL.

PwC donated $1.5 million in 2004 and Mallesons Stephen Jaques donated more than $600,000 through their respective workplace giving programs. Both these figures include staff donations and matching gifts from the companies.

South Sydney PCYC is also benefiting from the long term funding that workplace giving offers through their relationship with investment bank, Caliburn. South Sydney PCYC Manager, Samantha Sidwell, said the charity is able to offer educational, recreational and skilling programs for young people as a result of the program.

“Having regular contact with the staff at Caliburn allows us to form a partnership, beyond just as a recipient of their donations,” she said.

“They have a real interest in the club and activities we provide and want to volunteer their time to support some of these young people.”

Organisations facilitating workplace giving

The Australian Charities Fund
(02) 9231 7908

United Way
(03) 5229 4364

Charities Aid Foundation
(02) 9929 9633

Workplace Giving in Australia (last 12 months)

Funds donated by employees $8.5-$9 million*
No. of employees giving 20-25,0000
Average monthly donation $50^
Average participation rate 20%^

*Estimate ^ACFfacilitated programs