Are We Creating a Philanthropic Monoculture?
Submitted by United Way Australia, 20 Mar 2013
As recently posted by Philanthropy Australia, our CEO Doug Taylor looks to explore the question “Is philanthropy in Australia creating a mono-cultural sector that unintentionally excludes others who may genuinely want to ‘give back’?”
I have thought for a while that philanthropy in Australia is all a bit too nice and virtuous. If you look at the Philanthropic Sector in our country you would have to agree that it’s full of thoroughly decent, well intentioned and polite individuals going about their work of doing good with modesty and humility.
Don’t get me wrong- these are wonderful qualities and a great counterbalance to the cut and thrust of the world of politics and commerce. However my concern is that by creating a mono-cultural sector we unintentionally exclude others who may genuinely want to ‘give back’ but sometimes have a quite different cultural disposition and set of internal drivers.
We have lots of room to grow philanthropy in Australia so it’s worth thinking about groups that we may want to intentionally include by creating new entry pathways. A group that comes to mind for me are celebrities. Why should we consider them as a priority target group? To be blunt, they have money and the capacity to influence popular culture like very few of our current philanthropic ‘super stars’.
My work at United Way brings me into close contact with American philanthropy. We hear endlessly about the many historical and cultural differences that explain their scale of philanthropy relative to Australia.
Over the summer break I got to thinking about the importance of philanthropic celebrities as an overlooked explanation while listening to a repeat interview Geraldine Doogue did with Robert Forrester, the head of the Newman’s Own Foundation (http://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/saturdayextra/robert-forres…).
This is a foundation created by the late actor Paul Newman which combined philanthropy and social enterprise. He did this by creating and marketing a series of Salad Dressings (I can personally vouch for the Balsamic Vinegar) with all profits going to create community benefit which to date totals over US$340m. Newman is not alone; take Dolly Parton as another example. I have now met Dolly (and yes been to her concert) a few times as part of a new child literacy strategy we are rolling out in Australia with her foundation and Rotary International. Like Newman she combines an unquestionable philanthropic drive with outstanding business acumen and a good dose of self promotion.
The evidence is there for Dolly’s work (https://imaginationlibrary.com/) ; amidst her entertainment empire she has created impressive community outcomes with 650,000 children under 5 across the US, UK and Canada receiving books in partnership with Penguin International. Newman would often refer to his Salad Dressing endeavours as ‘shameless exploitation for the common good.’ Seems to be a good summary of celebrity philanthropy and my sense is that one of the biggest barriers to greater involvement of celebrities in Australia is the philanthropic sector itself.
Can we get over our cultural cringe and accept that celebrities can bring enormous benefit in new income but more importantly also increase profile and help mainstream philanthropy? While we are at it, it might also be a good idea to acknowledge that self interest is infused in everybody’s philanthropic endeavours. Perhaps by acknowledging this we can better accommodate celebrities.
As CEO of United Way Australia Doug Taylor is focused on creating and developing its Community Impact strategy, which addresses the education, income and health needs of local communities. He’s currently a member of the United Way Worldwide membership accountability committee and is responsible for the organisation’s Asia Pacific corporate development strategy. He is active in the broader community sector through Emerging Leaders for Social Change and has sat on the Commonwealth’s Volunteer Policy Advisory Groups.
Creating impact through volunteering – our Corporate Connect® journey: part 3
Submitted by United Way Australia, 27 Feb 2013
In this third blog reflecting on the impact of ten years of United Way’s Corporate Connect team volunteering, we examine the impact for the businesses supporting their employees to volunteer.
With another 195 Corporate Connect team volunteering projects succesfully completed in 2012 we were keen to understand the impact of this program for the businesses supporting their employees to volunteer.
With responses from over 500 of the 3,000 corporate volunteers, an impressive 94% reported they are more willing to contribute to the business as a result of being given an opportunity by their company to volunteer. Whilst this one question does not substitute for a full employee engagement survey, it does give a strong indication that there is an alignment between corporate supported volunteering and employee engagement.
In the first two blogs in this series, we reported how United Way’s Corporate Connect program is aligning employee’s and business’ values to give back and make a difference in our local communities.
Whether it is engaged employees that volunteer or employees becoming more engaged when their company supports them to volunteer, we do not know definitely. What is clear is the global and Australian research reporting a strong relationship between employee engagement and business performance. The 2011 Macquarie Economics Research ESG report references global research findings of 16% higher profitability, 12% higher customer satisfaction ratings, lower staff turnover, fewer safety incidents, fewer quality issues, as well as similar trends in Australia. The business case on employee engagement is clear.
The companies United Way partner with make a commitment to ensuring their employees create an impact by working with United Way’s national team of corporate volunteering managers who identify community needs, put together a fully scoped project, so that volunteers have a safe, fun and meaningful volunteering experience. We know our project management works, as 100% of volunteers said again in 2012 that they would recommend a United Way team volunteering project to their colleagues. As well, 99% of volunteers rate highly their volunteering experience with United Way.
Corporate partners who work with United Way are doing more than giving their consent for employees to have a day off to volunteer. These businesses are investing in their employees and the communities in which they live and work. The evidence is strong that the investment in United Way’s Corporate Connect team volunteering pays off for the business.
In the final blog we explore how United Way has developed this volunteering journey to create greater impact for the employees, business and the community. Before we get there we will go back in our next blog to the community and share their perspectives on corporate volunteering.
Gabrielle Kay – Corporate Partnerships Manager
Tags: Collective impact, Community Impact, corporate volunteering, CSR, Employee engagement, employee retention, Not for profit, social return, team events, team volunteering, United Way, volunteering
Partners for Impact – realising the knowledge-sharing benefits of mentoring
Submitted by United Way Australia, 25 Feb 2013
Many corporate leaders feel that having achieved a level of success in their career, there is a strong desire to give back, to contribute to the growth and enrichment of their corporation and their community, but don’t know exactly where to start.
Mentoring programs come in a range of shapes and sizes and are a well-used tool for building skills and sharing experiences. They can be particularly valuable for people working in the not-for-profit sector, where professional development budgets and self-improvement opportunities can be overshadowed by the day-to-day demands of ‘doing good’.
In 2011, the AMP Foundation approached United Way Australia, about taking over their program, which had run for a number of years, to develop it further and make it available to other corporate and non-profit organisations.
As an organisation that focuses on mobilising individuals to create lasting change in the community this opportunity complemented our existing Corporate Community Engagement program. It specifically supports United Way Australia’s mobilisation strategy by providing a structured forum for community and corporate leaders to connect and learn how to work effectively with each other, via a community initiative.
To read more on how the program has made an impact recently for both corporate and community participants please view “The knowledge-sharing benefits of mentoring” a recent article published by AMP Foundation.
Tags: AMP Foundation, Collective impact, Community Impact, Corporate Community Engagement, Corporate Social Responsibility, corporate volunteering, CSR, Employee engagement, engaged volunteering, knolwedge-sharing, leadership, Mentoring, non-profit, Not for profit, Partners for Impact, professional volunteering, social return, Strategic Volunteering, sustainability, United Way, volunteering
Going for individual glory or team gold
Submitted by unitedway, 22 Aug 2012
Australia has the local resources and leadership in many communities to do the work of building the common good, but do we have the blueprint to create lasting change and the resolve to be accountable for our progress? Read Doug Taylor’s piece here on Pro Bono Australia.
Charting a course for change – advancing education, income and health through collective impact
Submitted by unitedway, 18 Jul 2012
The challenges facing communities today seem almost overwhelming – and are too big for any single organisation to solve; too big even for the non-profit sector to solve without engaging private enterprise and government as partners. There is no single “silver bullet”; instead, a strong cross-sector infrastructure is needed to support collaboration, guide evidence-based decision-making, track community-level outcomes, scan existing resources and identify priority strategies.
This newly released report is a good starting point for any community that wants to improve education, health and financial stability. It brings together high-impact strategies and expert-vetted implementation approaches for communities to consider as they sort through how best to tackle their individual challenges.
Having well-researched data-driven strategies is critical, but strategies alone cannot solve our society’s problems. Instead we must adopt a new way of working by bringing nonprofits, governments, businesses, and the public together around a common agenda to create collective impact. Our research has shown that a collective impact approach can produce large scale social change in ways that other forms of collaboration and individual efforts have not.
Collective impact is a disciplined effort to bring together dozens or even hundreds of organisations of all types to establish a common vision and pursue evidence-based actions in mutually reinforcing ways. Successful collective impact initiatives share five key conditions, distinguishing them from other types of collaboration:
- Common Agenda
- Shared Measurement
- Mutually Reinforcing Activities
- Continuous Communication
- Backbone Support
United Ways are powerfully positioned to lead this new way of solving our society’s daunting problems.
United Ways can train the spotlight on critical issues, engage with private and public sector leaders, and coordinate agendas with partners to leverage collective efforts. In many communities, FSG has found the traditional role of United Way as “neutral convener” is transforming to become the galvanizing force behind collective impact.
- Mark Kramer
Mark Kramer is co-founder and Managing Director of FSG (www.fsg.org) and a Senior Fellow at Harvard University. He is the author of influential publications on creating shared value for corporations, catalytic philanthropy, strategic evaluation, impact investing, and adaptive leadership.
Celebrating 125 years of United Way
Submitted by unitedway, 21 Jun 2012
On this day in 1887, a Denver woman, a priest, a rabbi and a minister came together to improve their community. Today those actions have grown into United Way – the world’s largest privately-supported not for profit.
United Way Australia is proud to be one of nearly 1,800 United Ways in 41 countries and territories around the world
People are often surprised at the size of United Way globally. We’re not a household name here in Australia but, through this vast global network of United Ways, we do have access to global best-practice in our area of expertise – helping our corporate partners to provide innovative and effective corporate social responsibility programs, including workplace and payroll giving, corporate team and professional volunteering, with solutions aligned to the needs of both the business and our community.
We work extensively with large and small businesses across the world. From this work we understand these businesses increasingly want to demonstrate outcomes through their community investment strategies and also leverage their work with others to maximise their social return. Many are also keen to support their employee retention and acquisition strategies with such corporate community involvement initiatives. United Way’s community impact strategies and employee engagement programs reflect these priorities.
On this special day, we want to take this opportunity to acknowledge and thank all those people and organisations –past, present and future- who have and continue to advance the common good by creating opportunities for a better life for all. And here’s to the next 125 years.
Tags: community investment, Corporate Social Responsibility, corporate volunteering, CSR, employee acquisition, employee retention, Not for profit, payroll giving, professional volunteering, social return, team volunteering, United Way, volunteering, workplace giving