News & Media

Why winning a NSW Business Award means so much

 Anne from Benojo accepting our award from Kerri-Anne Kennerly

Anne from Benojo accepting our award from Kerri-Anne Kennerly

Last night Benojo was humbled and honoured to receive a New South Wales Business Award in the Excellence in Social Enterprise category.

We're not usually ones to blow our own trumpet at Benojo, but this recognition means a lot to us and comes at a time where we've reached some momentous milestones, including:

  • Over $4m dollars given to charities
  • Almost 7,000 volunteer hours facilitated
  • The signing of our first large multi-national clients
  • Our new branding
  • Announcing Junerosity
  • Putting the final piece of the technology puzzle in place - Peer to peer fundraising - which means we are now a complete one-stop-shop for any charity or business

It's been a long, hard journey to get this far. Many businesses in Australia are only now starting to invest confidently in social impact programs, and I'm sure companies like us in this space would agree we have to not only provide incredible products and services, but also create the market for them to be valued in the first place.

That our hard work and dedication to the cause was recognised among such esteemed peers is wonderful for our business and those we work with, but perhaps more importantly, shows that Social Enterprise is at last becoming recognised as a valued sector itself.

They say a rising tide lifts all boats - for employees wanting to focus on more than just profit at work, for charities striving to get more support for less cost, for our competitors with the same mission, for government departments, educators, individuals,  or whoever wants to collaborate and care. This award is for you too (metaphorically that is, it will stay in our office but you're welcome to visit and have a look).

What's next?

2017 is going to be a landmark year for Benojo, our clients and the charities we work with. We can feel a change in the corporate landscape and we'll be harnessing this positive momentum to exponentially increase the good things people do for the planet and everything that lives here.

Lastly, a huge thanks to those of you who've been on the journey with us. You know who you are, and we wouldn't be writing this post without your belief, investment and support. Each of you are Good Humans.

How community involvement can help you gain a competitive edge

Is your business engaging with the local community in which it operates? If it isn’t, it is missing out on many benefits, not just for those around you but for the bottom line of your business. In this article, we look at the many benefits of your agency becoming involved in community programs and how to get started.

Launching with Smartgroup Corporation

How do you launch a new community program? Having a clear focus, clear purpose and strong commitment from senior management are key to ensuring the effectiveness and longevity of the program, but adding a touch of fun and flair goes a long way as well. That’s how ASX listed Smartgroup Corporation, best known for it salary packaging, novated leasing and fleet management services to large corporates, public health organisations, and State & Federal government went about celebrating their launch on Benojo’s giving platform.

Structured giving

Smartgroup recently realigned their community giving programs, transferring their giving efforts onto the platform. Houda Lebbos, chief human resources officer at Smartgroup, defined the platform as a “one stop shop” for giving, describing the implementation of the platform as a smooth transition and one that “influenced us to think about our giving programs more broadly and strategically.”

“There was so much work initiated by individuals in the company but as an organisation we needed to structure that giving,” says Lebbos.

Staff input

Smartgroup valued the opinions and passions of their employees when it came to choosing causes to support. Staff members were given the opportunity to participate in a survey that asked them to comment on what causes and charities were important to them and what community activities they were involved in outside of work.

 The survey indicated that staff were most passionate about the following areas:

  • Education
  • Animal welfare
  • Health
  • Poverty Alleviation and Children
  • Environment

These causes were each designated a colour that was then ‘woven’ into a plait by the marketing team. The intricate nature of the plait is symbolic of the way in which Smartgroup staff and causes can come together to create social impact, speaking to the power of collective action.

Plait for Smart

"Do Good"

This new approach was rebranded “Do Good,” a name which simply speaks to the desire of staff and employees to give.

Smartgroup has a strong focus on developing staff giving, offering a training session on how to get the most out of the Benojo platform as well as offering staff the opportunity to participate skilled volunteer work during work hours.

In terms of managing, coordinating and measuring staff giving activity, Lebbos is confident that Benojo’s platform is the right option for Smartgroup. “It will allow us to coordinate our giving efforts,” she says, “so the staff, can get the most out of it and the charities can get the most out of it.”

Smartgroup’s profile already boasts twenty-two causes that they support, including an RSPCA campaign uploaded by staff member, Jono Gibbs who supports animal adoption outside of working hours. In terms of future giving, Lebbos highlights upcoming Nature Week which encourages staff members to be mindful of the environment by promoting meetings to be held outside.

“We’ve got a bit of work to do to ensure it’s a substantial giving program but I’m confident we’ll get there,” she says.


Are you looking for a way to engage your staff in giving? Check out Benojo's platform here or contact us for more information.

Why social responsibility is no longer just for the bigger guys

This article was produced by our founder and CEO, Martyn Ryan.


I spend many of my days talking to the leaders of small businesses and charities, and each and every day I hear stories that truly inspire me. The community of small businesses that operate in Australia is beginning to better understand the value social brand equity, purpose-led workplaces, and shared value.

Similarly, the charity sector is slowly recognising the value smaller firms have to offer to them.

However, there is still a common challenge with regards to how these relationships between businesses and charities are formed and sustained with solid alignment.

What's the problem?

We could spend all day examining the diverse nature of these challenges, however, there is a common thread. The cost of acquisition (internal and external) and complexity of managing these relationships seems to be the biggest and most recurrent issue faced by both firms and causes when it comes to developing socially responsible partnerships.

As more businesses and the charities they support, (or would like to support), are able to identify the methods by which they would like to work together, the nature of their needs exponentially increase.

For example, a financial services firm of 80 people recently approached Benojo with an intent to develop a singing and dancing community engagement initiative. It was simply brilliant in its concept; a blend of skilled and nonskilled volunteering offers, online peer to peer fundraising, payroll giving and monthly campaigns.

But here lay the challenge; the expense of implementing and managing this initiative was a big issue, as it required the engagement of multiple vendors, a big chunk of time and information integration. Whereas the bigger firms have the resources and technology to overcome some of these issues, the smaller firms don’t.

As a consequence, charities find it hard to acquire the support of smaller businesses because the burden on the business is potentially overbearing.

So what does this mean?

Simply stated, this means that less gets done and desire and intent to do good is not harnessed. This results in what I like to call ‘Giving Waste’

However, as of this week, the landscape has changed. As many of you know I founded Benojo to address the challenge of doing more for less, and at the risk of seen to be plugging Benojo I want to share with you why, as a result of what we have built, social responsibility no longer needs to be complex, expensive and hard to manage for small businesses and the charities they support.

It all comes down to what I truly care about - providing more people with the opportunity to give on their terms and, in turn, creating value beyond the beneficiary. Everyone wins.

So what have we done? 

Benojo has created a platform that allows small business to manage all their volunteering and participants in one place. In addition, businesses can run or adopt campaigns from one location and enable various "opt-in" options their employees, customers, and supply chain, including donations and payroll giving . Furthermore, each employee can run their own campaigns that can be shared internally and externally with their peers.

All the activity, outcomes, impact, administration, and management is integrated and appropriated to the relevant participants. Every component of the program remains in one place, easy to manage.

For companies of 100 employees or less, this technology is available for $99. I have had it to back teeth with expensive platforms and offerings that are not a realistic option for small companies, something had to change and its finally here.

It means comprehensive giving programs can be run by an internal single resource with limited time and cost requirements.

This changes the game and opens up a whole new marketplace and various opportunities within Australia. I have always dreamt that Australia would globally lead the way forward for small business giving. I hope this is the beginning of a genuine movement.


Interested to learn more about how your business can give? Contact me here or check out the offer page.

Five ways to ensure ROI from CSR programs

Most employers' corporate social responsibility programs achieve some positive results, but few are reaching their full potential, according to CSR expert Jonathan Champ.

Champ, the former change and communication lead at Benojo – a company that connects employers with charities and manages corporate volunteering – says different organisations struggle with different aspects of CSR.

"Everybody's good at something, and everybody's poor at something," he told HR Daily.

Some organisations are doing "great stuff" but never stop to tell anybody about it, or don't think to work it into their employment branding. Others don't streamline their efforts, or narrow their focus too much, and many still struggle with measuring, monitoring and evaluation.

"Often the grassroots stuff is really strong... you've got staff who are doing stuff every day with their local community in one way or another, but the activity hasn't been captured and rolled up and thought about in a holistic strategic way," he says.

According to Champ, employers can take five steps to ensure their CSR program is effective on every level.

1. Ask yourself

The first step is to audit or benchmark the organisation's current efforts, and this should consider any activity the organisation is involved in at present.

If a whole new program is on the cards, it might be worth running a survey or forming a consultative committee to see what staff are already doing or would be interested in, and to identify potential "champions".

2. Make it matter

The next questions to ask are, "are you doing the right things?" and "is there a strong match between the business goals and the community goals?" Champ says.

"Making it matter is all about defining the impact you want to have, and making sure that your efforts are focused around those right things... so there's some sort of link between leadership, vision and strategy."

Depending on its vision, an employer in the tech industry might decide to offer homeless people the opportunity to learn how to code – or give kids in underprivileged or isolated areas access to technology.

There's also the option of asking staff to "down tools" one day a year and volunteer at a range of community organisations, Champ says. This ensures employees all have a say in what they're doing, which aids engagement, but the impact is divided, so it might be less appealing from a branding perspective, he notes.

3. Set your path

"If you want to actually achieve those social goals then it's necessary to take some form of planned approach," Champ says. "Do you have the processes, structures, goals and responsibilities in place within your organisation to effectively deliver on that kind of vision?"

Whether responsibility lies with the CEO or HR, marketing, branding or a combination of departments will depend on the organisation, but it must be clear. Some employers appoint "community champions" in each office to ensure regular two-way contact between the business and the charity, promote the activities they're involved in, and process feedback. Others stick to simple gold-coin morning teas, or invite employees to sacrifice a portion of their salary each week.

"What can be done to deepen and extend that contribution, and how do you 'bake' that into the organisation?" Champ urges employers to consider. "What are the things that need to be in place to make that sustainable?"

4. Launch and lift

"Every organisation is doing something," Champ says, even if it's "incredibly informal" or an individual's "pet project".

If the existing program isn't aligned with both the company's goals and employee interests, it might need to change.

Questions to ask include: "Is there a variety?" and "Is it easy for people to get involved?"

"Some people may only want to do gold coin donations – they may not want to ever really roll up their sleeves and get involved with volunteering – but they still want to contribute in a range of ways," Champ says.

"Launch and lift is all about: how many different ways are there to participate, in ways that are aligned with the organisation's goals?

"What are the opportunities to involve customers, to involve family and friends, to extend that community engagement to the community and turn that into a truly engaging activity that's brand-building as well?"

5. Grow and tell

"If you've been able to be clear about your strategy and establish measurement all the way through those other phases, then you're going to be able to demonstrate the impact of what you're doing," Champ says.

"You're able to say... we had 1,000 hours of staff volunteering this month," and to describe the impact, such as serving 200 meals, or building a website.

There might also be benefits around engagement, skills development, attraction and retention. In a 2014 Deloitte volunteering survey, 90 per cent of HR executives agreed that contributing business skills and expertise to a non-profit can develop leadership skills, while an earlier survey of 750 white-collar workers found 64 per cent had increased their skills through volunteer work, Champ says.

Benchmarking is also important. There are various options, so the trick is to be consistent. "There's a collective impact model, there's a social value-chain model, there's a whole bunch of different models that get used globally... choose one that works for your business," he says.

The other element is storytelling, he adds.

"Everybody's got some stakeholder requirement around numbers... but what about the stories attached to that? How can achievements be used to create brand capital and enhance or reinforce the employee value proposition?"

Studies show that Millennials will choose a company with purpose, or where they have an opportunity to exercise purpose, over a company that doesn't offer these things, Champ says, and a 2011 PwC survey found 56 per cent of graduates would leave if their employer didn't have a CSR program.

The ability to say to prospective employees, "here's what we're involved in, here's our community presence, and this is the kind of thing you can be part of" can be "a very powerful drawcard for the right kind of employees – and the right kind of differentiator when it comes to employment brand", Champ says.

Employers can take stock of their current program, and find out how they can improve their social impact, by taking the Benojo index here.

This article is reproduced with permission from hrdaily.com.au.

How does social investment contribute to the success of businesses?

This was the big question addressed at the Social Investment and Partnerships forum at the Western Sydney Collective Wednesday 17th February. Our founder and CEO, Martyn Ryan, was one of many speakers at the Social Investment and Partnerships forum to talk about CSR and social investment as a tool for growing businesses. His focus was on subjects close to the heart of our business here at Benojo, such as retaining and attracting great employees, building resilient and prosperous communities and engaging socially aware investors.

 

mrtyn

Key themes at the Social Investment Forum

The importance of collaboration was a key theme throughout the event and for businesses, involves finding the right cause to collaborate with. This process should begin with each business evaluating their company culture, a phase referred to as the Ask Yourself stage in Benojo’s giving index. This stage is critical in allowing businesses to determine if they have the right kind of culture, time and resources to embark upon a social investment partnership.

Identifying a cause or charity whose values align with your company culture or brand offering will ensure your giving has maximum impact. This is an idea we explore in the stage of our giving index.

Key to this stage is the idea of creating shared value, explained by speaker Phil Preston as the space in which “community support, collaboration and profitability collide.” Finding the right type of cause to align with ensures businesses can address social issues that intersect with their business, a key element of creating shared value and creating sustainable partnerships.

What our founder had to say:

Martyn identified the issue of “defining” what you as a business has to trade i.e. “time, money, resources, knowledge, skills,” as a key part of social investment. This is termed as the Set Your Path phase of the Benojo giving index and requires businesses think about the type of giving they can afford.

For example, IMC, a global leader in propriety trading, chose to offer time donations, rounding up 60% of their workforce to become SuperHeroes for the day. With a total of 336 hours from volunteers, money raised went towards Bear Cottage, a children’s hospice. This example demonstrates the importance of choosing the right type of giving that remains in line with what the business can offer and the kind of social investment that the cause needs.

This stage directly feeds into the Launch & Lift phase of the giving index, a phase in which businesses choose how they want to be involved. This may involve assigning more importance to certain aspects of your businesses CSR strategy over others. Martyn identified this as a space in which to “define the need,” of both the cause and business, a space in which he prompts business to ask themselves “is this mission critical, and, is it strategic?” Asking these questions ensures businesses can avoid ‘giving waste’ by effectively channelling their resources and efforts.

Why transparency matters

Martyn distinguished the transparency and measurability of social investment initiatives as key to forming a successful and ongoing relationship between businesses and causes. In the Grow & Tell phase of Benojo’s Giving Index, Martyn believes that “using common tools” creates a shared language in which both business and cause can evaluate and grow the collaboration. Using these tools leads to innovation - another key theme of the forum- which in turn allows both business and cause to improve upon social investments and continue to grow a sustainable relationship.

 

Want to know more about implementing an effective CSR strategy for your business? Take the Benojo Social Impact Index for Business to learn more and receive a free report.

Five charities helping care for kids

Benojo is the place to connect, collaborate, donate, volunteer and measure social impact. We work with a range of charities and not-for-profit organisations seeking support. What kinds of causes would you, your business or workplace like to support? If you would like to work with children’s charities, here are some very worthwhile ones to consider. Barnados

Screen Shot 2015-12-21 at 11.37.25 am

Barnados is a child protection charity whose history can be traced back to the work of its founder, Dr Thomas Barnardo, an Irish philanthropist and founder/director of homes for poor children in London. Dealing largely with the prevention of abuse and entry into care for children, Barnados works to protect vulnerable children. They operate children’s family centres, alongside permanency programs for out-of-home care, adolescent services and advocacy work.

Batyr

Screen Shot 2015-12-21 at 11.38.43 am

Around seven children in an average class size of 30 in Australia are dealing with a significant mental health issue. While two will seek help, the other five will suffer in silence. Batyr’s work focuses on preventative education in the area of young people’s mental health. Their mission is to ‘educate students about the support networks and systems available to them and empower students to reach out for help when they need’. They do this through programs that connect students with young speakers who have successfully managed an experience with mental ill health.

Royal Far West

royal far west

Since 1924, Royal Far West has been providing country children from regional and rural New South Wales access to a range of health services. They work with children who have non-acute developmental, behavioural, learning, emotional and mental health disorders, and limited access to local services. Based in the Sydney suburb of Manly, their facilities offer family-centric health care, which integrate with education and accommodation.

United Way

united way

Part of a global network in 41 countries, United Way’s work in Australia focuses on early literacy and youth unemployment. They believe that no Australian child should start or finish school without the basics they need to read, learn and succeed. They have delivered over 50,000 books to children in need; have assisted close to 1100 students from disadvantaged areas to transition to further study or employment by helping them increase their skills; and fostered increased community collaboration between schools, families, students, businesses and governments.

Children’s Cancer Institute

childrens cancer

Some 950 children and adolescents a year are diagnosed with cancer in Australia – while nearly three a week die. The Children’s Cancer Institute’s sole mission is to put an end to childhood cancer. They are the only medical institute in Australia dedicated to finding a cure for childhood cancer and their work is having an impact, with eight of out 10 children surviving cancer.

Benojo enables charities, companies and individuals to connect with each other. Contact us to find out what you can do.

 

Adidas releases a shoe made from ocean plastics

388767

Last month, adidas and Parley for the Ocean, an organisation that brings creators, thinkers and leaders together to collaborate on projects to raise awareness on the state of the oceans, unveiled a shoe with an upper made entirely of yarns and filaments reclaimed and recycled from ocean waste. The concept shoes offered a glimpse into the future with adidas and Parley for the Oceans set to reveal a line of consumer-ready ocean plastic products next year.

We spoke to Silvia Raccagni, adidas Group Senior Manager of Sustainability Communication, to learn more about how adidas is making sustainability an ongoing and growing part of their business.

Products made out of ocean plastic

“The shoes we showed in New York are concept shoes only – there are only two pairs in existence. We are currently looking into developing a consumer ready range for the start of next year,” says Raccagni of the concept shoes, which were a world first.

“In general, our collaboration with Parley for the Oceans will – among many others - accelerate the creation of innovative products and the integration of materials made from Ocean Plastic waste into the product offer of the adidas brand. Starting with limited collections to raise awareness, the intention is to gradually move inline, to fully integrate materials made of Ocean Plastic waste into our regular ranges and to really push the needle.”

She adds: “We do already have some fabric that can be used for apparel (tees and sweatshirts) and we are now focusing our efforts in making sure the fabric produced meets our standards. This is of course a very important phase we need to go though, if the ultimate goal is to gradually integrate this fabric into our inline product offer.”

388800

Sustainability a key long term strategy

The Parley for the Oceans partnership is not a stand-alone initiative. Raccagni says: Purely from a product perspective, it builds on our already strong track record in product sustainability, one of the key pillars of our sustainability strategy, which, she explains, is delivered though:

  • Innovation: For example, reducing the amount of water used in the making of our products thanks to initiatives such as DryDye [a new way to dye clothing that doesn’t use any water and saves on energy]. Since we started, we have saved 100 million litres of water in the dyeing process.
  • Increased use of sustainable materials: 2014 was a record year for our use of sustainable cotton. [Note: More than 30 per cent of all of cotton sourced by the adidas Group in 2014 was sustainable cotton. The original target was 25 per cent; in 2015 it is 40 per cent, with the view that by 2018 all the cotton used will be sustainable].
  • Efficiencies: Thanks to virtualisation projects, we have been able to produce almost two million fewer samples between 2011 and 2014.

“It's not only product though as our partnership with Parley for the Oceans allows us to tap into new areas and explore new solutions,“ says Raccagni. “For example, we have already committed to phase out the use of plastic bags in our stores. The phase out will start in 2016.”

Looking ahead

“The adidas Group’s sustainability strategy is rooted in the Group’s values – performance, passion, integrity and diversity.  We have been working towards sustainability for many years and recognise that the task ahead of us is a marathon, not a sprint,” says Raccagni, noting that the adidas Group has a history of sustainability.

“We are currently in the process of defining our 2020 targets, which will focus around the further evolution of our core social and environmental programmes driving self-governance in our supply chain. In addition, we will strive to accelerate strategic initiatives in the following areas: promoting worker empowerment building on our previous track record, moving our chemical management to the next level, applying human rights due diligence in all business operations as well as minimising the adidas Group’s water footprint.” 

“From a product perspective, we will keep pushing the boundaries to find better ways to create our products and we will therefore continue to look into sustainable manufacturing methods and sustainable materials for the products and innovations that we bring forward. We are also extending post-consumer in-store product take-back,” explains Raccagni.

“A take back programme [where customers donate old shoes to receive a small discount on a purchase of new adidas shoes] is successfully taking place in 60 stores in Brazil, while in 2014 we have also run pilot projects in Spain and the US. We will take the learnings from these projects and explore potential partnerships that bring us closer to closed-loop systems.”

Benojo helps businesses and charities collaborate for the greater good.

Contact us to learn more about our work.

Homeless people read mean tweets

Social media can be many things – spanning the spectrum from good and bad – but the one thing it does allow is the very blatant sharing of individual opinions, insights and more.

Not so funny

One comedy segment that highlights the particularly brutal nature of social media is US TV host Jimmy Kimmel’s ‘Mean Tweets’, where famous guests are asked to read some of the not-so-nice things tweets written about them.

As the show notes: “People are very quick to tweet unflattering things, but it’s important to remember that everyone has feelings.”

Words that bite

But what about if the subject of the mean tweets was not a celebrity or public figure but amongst those doing it most hard in society: the homeless?

It beggars belief that people could be so cruel, but as this heart-wrenching video reveals, they can be.

[embedyt]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0BXxxfc4aYc&width=600&height=350[/embedyt]

The video is the work of a Canadian organisation called Raising the Roof, which seeks to find long-term solutions for Canada’s homeless. It is also the basis of their wonderful Humans for Humans campaign, which aims to change the conversation about homelessness.

A dose of reality 

In a series of short videos featured on the site, individuals who are or have been homeless respond to ‘mean tweets’ and questions about homelessness by sharing their own personal stories and experiences. Their responses are brave, insightful and real.

The campaign aims to dispel some of the common myths and misconceptions about homelessness and to humanise it, in the hope that people will change their view – and the conversation around homelessness to one that is supportive and empowering.

[embedyt]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YOc7BblttUo&width=600&height=350[/embedyt]

This campaign not only teaches us the power of words and the danger of negative stereotypes, but of the far reach of social media.

Food for thought

There are many organisations working to help overcome homelessness in Australia. Many of which offer businesses different ways to contribute and help.

For example, Oz Harvest’s corporate Cooking for a Cause program brings staff members together to cook a meal – made with donated surplus food with the help of a chef – for some of the country’s most in need, including the homeless. It’s one of many ways that individuals and businesses can help combat homelessness, and other causes that may be close to their hearts.

Benojo helps connect people to causes they care about. Contact us to learn more.