Interviews

Tips for building and improving your CSR program

Australia has witnessed a dramatic rise in Corporate Social Responsibility reporting with approximately 83 per cent of the top 100 companies in Australia (by revenue) now reporting on CSR. So how can you build and improve on what you already have?

Be honest - can you do this?

Building any CSR program should always begin with an evaluation of your company culture. Hannah Rose, National CSR Manager at Sparke Helmore Lawyers, notes the importance of knowing your own business—what it does, what it values and the various needs and desires of its key stakeholders.

Hannah says truly understanding your company values “will help you shape an approach to socially responsible business practices that is in line with the needs of your business and engaging for your staff.”

Part of this evaluation involves being honest about the type of giving you can afford. What does your business have to offer to causes? Time? Money? Resources? Skills?

Setting your path should be a key element of your CSR strategy.

An internal approach

Building upon your CSR program means going ‘beyond’ external giving programs and taking more of an ‘in-house’ approach. Talk to your staff, conduct focus groups and internal surveys to determine issues that might be of personal relevance to them, or hone in on facets of the workplace culture that could be aided by an internal CSR program. For example, Hannah speaks about the strength of Sparke Helmore’s Diversity Program, including the Six Degrees women's network that aims to encourage, motivate, and support Sparke Helmore's women and women in their client community.

The Diversity Program is a great example of how a CSR program should extend to every facet of the business and its stakeholders. Hannah notes that developing and participating in the right activities for Sparke Helmore is “critical to creating the desired culture within our firm, increasing staff engagement, morale and productivity, and helping us to attract high-performing individuals to our firm,” showcasing how a strong CSR program can add value to a business.

Keeping things fresh: Collaboration

“One of the biggest lessons I have learnt over the years is the importance of collaboration for a successful CSR program,” says Hannah. Cross-party collaboration is key to creating shared goals and objectives as well as expanding your CSR program.

Hannah suggests that internal support from all areas of your business is just as important as collaborating with external parties such as charities. Sharing ideas from different perspectives leads to a more developed, informed strategy, as per the saying, two heads (or more!) are always better than one. Collaborating with causes and staff also ensures your CSR program will meet the needs of these stakeholders.

Storytelling

Having a functional and effective CSR program is great, but growing and developing it should be a prime goal for businesses who want to make waves in the social impact space.

“Benojo will help us to measure the social impact of our investments,” says Hannah, “and share our good news stories with external stakeholders.” The key to storytelling and expansion is measurement. Ask the big question: Has your CSR program been effective?

Measurement is premised on the development of a common language and shared measuring tools that allow all parties to evaluate impact. Through this evaluation, impact can be shared in the form of storytelling. Benojo founder, Martyn Ryan, believes people are motivated by seeing other people take action and positive outcomes.

With 67% of Millennials preferring to work for socially responsible companies, sharing your story is imperative to attract the right kind of talent.


Contact Benojo here for advice on how we can help build your CSR strategy.

Crêpes for Change

Crêpes for Change is Australia’s first non-profit crêpe food truck. The Melbourne-based social enterprise is the work of brothers Dan and Liam Poole and exists to help eliminate youth homelessness in Australia. We spoke to its founder Dan to learn more.

Turning inspiration into action

Crêpes for Change is a crêpe food truck that provides young people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness with tangible skills and professional development opportunities. All of its profits are used to fund programs that support disadvantaged young Australians.

“The project was started by myself and my brother Liam in late 2014, having been inspired by our time living in France and by the power of social enterprise that we observed from the success of other Melbourne social enterprises like STREAT,” explains Dan.

“We decided to run a crowd-funding campaign to fund the van, during which we were able to successfully raise just over $12,000. We then received a further $10,000 over five grants, and have most recently been the lucky recipients of the Jetstar Flying Start grant worth $30,000 in cash and flights.”

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Good things ahead

Since launching in early August, the Crêpes for Change food van has operated at over 100 events, spanning festivals, weddings and school and social events. They have grown a team of committed team of volunteers and have solid plans in place to expand their impact.

“I definitely think the best is still to come,” says Dan. “We’re still in our baby stages – we started from scratch with zero funding, so we spent a long time simply raising money to buy our van and all of our equipment to get started, as well as expansions such as the Coffee Cart Changing Lives [a soon to be launched standalone non-profit coffee catering service] to build our capacity. We’re gearing up for our first ‘impact donation’ in the coming months: where we hand over a substantial amount of money raised through our operations to a charity working in the youth homelessness space to help deliver a project that will change the lives of those who need it. “

The experience has also been a rich one for Dan, professionally and personally. “So far, in my own life personally, developing Crêpes for Change has been absolutely incredible. Not only has it brought my brother Liam and I closer from working on it together, but almost everyone involved in the project has become a close personal friend and the source of lots of happiness and good times. From a professional perspective, Crêpes for Change has also allowed me to develop lots of invaluable skills that I wouldn’t trade for anything."

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The rise of the social enterprise

An avid supporter of the social enterprise model, Dan describes them as “the future for charities that want to be sustainable, because they focus on creating a great business or product that people actually want” over relying solely on donations or government funding.

“In our case, we run what on the outside looks pretty similar to a regular food truck, in that we sell crepes and coffee with a view to making money, except that we then use the profits we create to fund programs that enable disadvantaged young people to avoid or escape from homelessness.”

Dan encourages anyone interested in developing a charitable project to explore the social enterprise model. “Crêpes for Change is 100 per cent non-profit, but I don’t think that’s necessary to achieve great social results. Organisations like Who Gives A Crap are pioneers in the space and who have proven that social enterprise is more than just a fad - it’s something that’s going to change the non-profit and for-profit sectors alike.”

As a young entrepreneur, Dan says the best piece of advice he can offer those looking to pursue a dream is – just go for it! “Starting any business is a long journey, each with its own unique challenges and obstacles. Equally important though is to redefine your perception of ‘success’ and ‘failure’. To me, the concepts are interrelated, and both are a necessary part of entrepreneurship. ‘Failure’ isn’t finding out your business or idea won’t work. That’s just a step in the path to success – eventually you’ll find one that will work. The only way you can fail is by giving up or to stop believing in yourself and your vision. “

He adds: “There will be people along the way that will doubt you, question your motives, laugh at you, and try to dissuade you – but that’s all part of it. If you listen to those people, then you’re probably not motivated enough to follow through with your idea anyway. I believe strongly that your twenties are the time for risk-taking and experimenting. If you fall flat on your back and wonder what happened, you can be confident that you know where you went wrong and will be better off because of it.”

Benojo enables charities, companies and individuals to connect with each other. Contact us to learn more.

Aussie social impact innovators

From designers who create recycling based puns to taxi drivers who deliver food to the needy, we’ve rounded up the ‘all-stars’ of social impact in Australia.


Nic Marchesi & Lucas Patchett- Orange Sky Laundry

Orange Sky Laundry is more than the world’s first mobile laundry service for the homeless, it’s testament to the power of simple ideas with big impact.

Since launching Orange Sky laundry in 2014, founders Nic Marchesi and Lucas Patchett have been named 2016’s Young Australians of the Year and have amassed 270 volunteers and a range of donors, both corporate and independent, who currently support Orange Sky Laundry’s work.

When quizzed on what aspiring not-for-profits can do to bring their ideas to life, Patchett says ‘to just give it a crack,’- it’s about getting up and doing something about the idea. It’s really where the impact can be had.”

[embed]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cb0YYMW6D6g&feature=youtu.be[/embed]

Vanessa Morrish & Caro Shields- Be an Unfucker

‘The planet’s fucked but we’re optimistic we can turn things around. Be An Unfucker and start by changing one un-eco-friendly habit at a time’ – this is the philosophy behind the website Be an Unfucker, founded by writer Vanessa Morrish and designer Caro Shields.

Using colourful graphics, cool images and cheeky calls to action [like Cut the scrap, Go eco fool and Recycle responsibly, damn it), Shield and Morrish want to encourage people to make tiny changes that collectively have a larger impact.

The action element of how to ‘Be an Unfucker’ is delivered through their weekly facts and blogs and shared across their growing social media communities. It’s a great example of how to inspire individuals into action with easy everyday tips and suggestions that aren’t hard to implement.

Eva Mackinley- The Last Straw

Eva Mackinley is the passionate and determined founder of The Last Straw, a campaign to reduce the use of plastic straws in venues across Australia (and beyond).

Having worked in hospitality for a long time, Mackinley’s ‘light bulb’ moment occurred while she was dumping a bucket load of used straws into a bin and asked herself for the first time where they would actually be going.

“These straws don’t just disappear when they’re put in the bin. They either go to landfill or they go into our waterways,” she says.

The Last Straw targets both venues and consumers. It asks consumers to ‘sip, don’t suck’ and forgo plastic straws when they order drinks out, while encouraging venues to give out less straws and help reduce waste through responsible disposal of used straws.

[embed]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x0ywTO-K56M&feature=youtu.be[/embed]

Ravi & Della Parsad- Parliament on King

A cosy cafe/bar on King Street in the Sydney suburb of Newtown, Parliament on King runs a hospitality training program for refugees known as The International Shift. Every Tuesday and Wednesday, cafe owners Ravi Parsad and his wife, Della, along with occasional volunteers, work with asylum seekers and refugees (referred to them by organisations like the nearby Asylum Seeker Centre) teaching them coffee making and food preparation skills to aid them in finding hospitality roles.

In addition to this, every Saturday evening between 6pm and 9pm the kitchen is handed over to the most talented of their trainees for Local Family Dinners. The trainees cook and serve dinner to patrons as part of this unique dining experience/social enterprise initiative.

[embed]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lOYJzMalPpo&feature=youtu.be[/embed]

Tejinder Singh

An air conditioner mechanic by day, a taxi driver by night and a social innovator on Sundays- Tejinder Singh shows us just what it means to be selfless.

Singh and his son spend the last Sunday of every month cooking and distributing vegetarian meals to any and all who are hungry – no matter what race or class. During his monthly food drive, he feeds up to 100 or Darwin’s neediest.

Having rejected countless offers of monetary support from people, Singh simply wants to encourage others to begin their own food drives within their local community.


Benojo enables charities, companies and individuals to connect with each other.

Contact us to find out what you could do.

In conversation with Orange Sky Laundry

It’s been an incredibly busy few weeks for Nic Marchesi and Lucas Patchett of Orange Sky Laundry since they were named 2016’s Young Australians of the Year in January. We caught up with Patchett to learn more about the journey of the world’s first mobile laundry service for the homeless to date. Image 5 - Orange Sky Laundry

From little things, big things grow

“Crazy” is how Patchett describes what life has been like since launching Orange Sky Laundry in 2014, when both he and best mate Marchesi were aged 20.  “We started it [Orange Sky Laundry] purely as a fun project to get us and our mates involved in something, because we wanted to give back to the community in a really simple but tangible way.”

The pair converted the first Orange Sky Laundry van themselves, less than two years later there are mobile laundry vans operating in Brisbane, the Gold Coast, Melbourne, Southeast Victoria, Sydney and Perth. Each van is equipped with two 10kg industrial washers and dryers that provide 20kg of clean washing to homeless Australians out every hour.

Over 270 volunteers and a range of donors, both corporate and independent, currently support Orange Sky Laundry’s work. Patchett says: “On one given day we might meet someone doing it pretty tough in the morning, washing their clothes. Then in the afternoon we’ll meet someone who is looking at supporting us. It’s the people that we are meeting along this journey – that’s what really keeps us going.”

Making it happen

Orange Sky Laundry is steadily growing their initiative into a national one, with the view to grow it internationally too. When quizzed on what aspiring not-for-profits can do to bring their ideas to life, Patchett says ‘to just give it a crack’.  He says: “We all have ideas. We can all sit around a table and throw ideas out there, but it’s about getting up and doing something about the idea. It’s really where the impact can be had. We had this idea [for Orange Sky Laundry] and we got up and made it happen and it really went from there.“

He also notes the power of simplicity. “The simplest ideas can have the biggest impact. Don’t overcomplicate things and define what your product is. For us our product is we’ve got this bright orange van and with that it costs $6 to wash and dry someone’s clothes. That product is what makes us and keeps our message simple.”

Benojo enables charities, companies and individuals to connect with each other.

Contact us to find out what you could do.

Introducing Ask Izzy

Ask Izzy is a free and anonymous Australia-wide mobile website that connects those who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless to essential support services based on their location. It is the collaborative effort of not-for-profit Infoxchange and corporate partners Google, News Corp Australia and Realestate.com.au.

AskIzzy_Photo credit - InfoxchangeImage via Infoxchange.

Corporates come together to support Ask Izzy

“We won the Google Impact Challenge in 2014 for our idea for a mobile website that connects people who are homeless or at risk with our database of 350,000 services. Realestate.com.au and News Corp Australia were developing something similar and we joined forces. Ask Izzy is all the more powerful because of this collaboration,” explains David Spriggs, CEO of Infoxchange, on how the corporate sector came together to support the project.

Spriggs’ collaborative view is one shared by Maile Carnegie, managing director of Google Australia and New Zealand, who says:  “Homelessness is a really complex issue, and the only way we’re going to be able to make inroads is if a group of different organisations come together and collaborate really well.”

While for Peter Tonagh, CEO of News Corp Australia, a key role they were able to play as an organisation was to helping to promote Ask Izzy to a national audience. “The most important thing is making people aware of it, and through our very vast media network, we’re ideally placed to help to promote Ask Izzy to make sure that both the users are aware of it, also that the services are aware of it, but equally the community as a whole is aware of it.”

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The role of technology

Around 77 per cent of homeless Australians have a smartphone, according to a 2014 study conducted by the University of Sydney. This means technology can play a key role in making information easily available and accessible.

In the case of Ask Izzy – which is available on phone, desktop and tablet devices – users can connect with support services, to find essentials like food, legal advice, healthcare and shelter.

“Technology gives us the ability to tackle issues such as homelessness at a national scale,” says Spriggs. “Not-for-profits are increasingly under pressure to do more with less and technology is a great way to aid frontline delivery of services and improve efficiency and effectiveness.”

Corporate collaborator Tracey Fellows, CEO of REA Group is also quick to emphasise the importance of technology. “Technology has the ability to make things simpler, to put information in your hands, to be context aware, and so all of those opportunities should be just as accessible for people who are looking for shelter as they are for us in the business world.”

Ask Izzy will potentially help provide insights as to where the most need is for services and funding. Spriggs notes: “Over time, we hope Ask Izzy will give a comprehensive view of service demand across the country, allowing the sector and government to make more informed choices about future investment.”

Benojo enables charities, companies and individuals to connect with each other.

Contact us to find out what you could do.

Grill’d on why Local Matters

Launched in 2011, Local Matters is Grill’d’s community donation program. To date, the program has raised $1.93million for 11,557 local community projects. We spoke to Amy Smith, marketing and brand director at Grill’d, to learn more. grilld

Giving back to the local community

The Local Matters initiative is a simple one. Each month every Grill’d burger restaurant donates $500 back into their local community. When a customer buys a burger they are given a token, which they can choose to put into one of three jars (each of which represents a local community group). At the end of the month, the cause with the most tokens is given $300, while the other two receive $100 each.

"The Local Matters community donation program was created as a way to give back to the local community in response to the multiple requests for support from various groups and organisations in the local communities that Grill’d called home,” says Smith.

Community groups of any size can take part in Local Matters, with projects spanning emergency services; sports and recreation; health and disability; support services; education; special interest; youth services; animals and environment; and community services.

The only conditions are that solely groups (not individuals or their personal projects) can apply; that they are located in the same area of the Grill’d restaurant hosting the Local Matters campaign; and that they can only participate once every 12 months. Groups can apply in writing by sharing (in less than 45 words) a little on who they are, what they do and how some extra support would help them.

Smith says: “Local Matters is designed to raise awareness and generate funding for not-for-profit initiatives, organisations, and groups, so they can continue to operate and have a positive impact on the local community.”

A little bit more

Smith says that many Grill’d stores support their local communities in more ways than just the monthly Local Matters campaigns.

Among the many examples she cites Grill’d Malvern, who recently organised a stall at the Very Special Kids (VSK) Family Fair Day where $5 from every main item they sold was donated to the charity. Subsequently, they raised an additional $725, in addition to the Local Matters donation VSK received.

Smith also notes the efforts of Grill’d Bulimba, who over six weeks worked with Bulimba State School students – teaching them how to make burgers using fresh ingredients from the garden, such as tomatoes and onions – to educate them about the importance of healthy eating.

Smith adds: “Grill’d Miranda recently supported Kogarah Community Services, which raises funds and awareness for local youth homeless service, Project Youth. Kogarah Community Services held a Sleep Out event at WIN Jubilee Oval. To show their support and raise awareness about youth homelessness our staff from Grill’d Miranda participated.”

Most recently, for the month of December, Local Matters was renamed Christmas Matters. In addition to the monthly grant funding, Grill’d hosted events in partnership with local charities. In Sydney, Grill’d teamed up with Creative Youth Initiatives, Youth off the Streets and YWCA NSW, for a Christmas lunch event, where they offered free laundry services, haircuts and shaves and lunch for some of the city’s homeless youth.

Benojo enables charities, companies and individuals to connect with each other.

Contact us to find out what you could do.

The Empowerment Plan

Our founder Martyn Ryan is on a quest through the United States to eradicate goodwill waste. He’s been part of a dialogue that addresses social issues on both a macro and micro scale - from chatting to the CEO of Living Cities to stumbling across a local bakery that serves 20 free coffees to the homeless each day. It is through this dialogue, research and pursuit of social good that we encountered The Empowerment Plan. This inspirational not-for-profit in Detroit works to help the homeless in two key ways – by supporting those doing it tough on the streets and providing employment to those formerly homeless or living in shelters.

 

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Saving lives and offering employment

CEO and founder Veronika Scott established The Empowerment Plan in 2011. Cassie Coravos, Business and Communications Manager at The Empowerment Plan, says: “In short, Veronika was studying Industrial Design at the College of Creative Studies in Detroit. Her class assignment was to ‘design something that fills a need’. She chose to work with shelters in the area to find a product that could help people who were homeless. She went to a warming centre, the Neighborhood Service Organization, three times a week for five months. She worked closely with the individuals to figure out what they needed. That’s how she came up with the idea for the EMPWR coat and then later the realisation that the more important need is employment, not coats.”

The Empowerment Plan’s mission is to educate, employ, and empower homeless individuals to create a better life for themselves and their families, while producing a humanitarian product for those in need.

Central to this is the manufacturing of the innovative EMPWR coat. Distributed at no cost to homeless people living on the street, it is a water-resistant and self-heating jacket, which can transform into a sleeping bag at night, and becomes an over-the-shoulder bag when not in use. It takes 3.5 hours to make a coat and costs US$100 to make each.

The Empowerment Plan also employ and train homeless parents from local shelters to become full-time seamstresses (to make the EMPWR coats) so they can earn a stable income, move out of the shelter and into their own homes and get back on their feet.

The power of empowerment

“Empowering individuals is central to our work,” says Coravos. “We estimate that each coat reduces at least one emergency visit in its lifespan, which is an average cost of about US$4,200 per hospital visit. Beyond that, we believe our real impact isn’t from the coat itself but from who we are employing to make the coats. We offer real, full-time employment, so that each individual can move out of the shelter permanently and can gain financial independence while acquiring skills on the job.”

Since 2012, Coravos says The Empowerment Plan has:

  • Distributed our sleeping bag coats to more than 10,000 people in need across 30 states, five Canadian provinces and New Zealand, Australia, and France.
  • Provided employment to 30 people, including 10 who have graduated on to other jobs.
  • Assisted every one of our employees in permanently moving out of the shelter.
  • Positively impacted 75 children now growing up in stable homes.

Creating positive change

“It’s been an incredible year for us,” says Coravos of 2015. “We have such an amazing community that supports us through outreach events, fundraising opportunities, press coverage, grants, and donations. All of which helps us get more coats out to those that need them and provide employment opportunities to those who want them.”

“In 2015 we are on track to distribute 6,500 coats. We raised over $140,000 at our annual event in November,” she says. “Our numbers are constantly changing, but here are a few current numbers we are proud of – we currently employ 21 seamstresses; 20 of our seamstresses are in their own homes and our newest hire will be soon; 18 of our 21 seamstresses have their own cars; and we have seven ladies currently in our GED program [a high-school equivalency test].”

With such strong results 2016 is looking to be a bright year for The Empowerment Plan and those they support.

Want to know more about Martyn’s learnings and experiences of social good in the USA?

You can read his insights here.

Benojo Founder Martyn Ryan speaks CSR strategy - Corporate Spend Podcast

What drives us to help our fellow man? It’s a question that has been the focus of our thinking for years. Our founder, Martyn Ryan believes it’s in our DNA to give. Speaking with Corporate Spend for their Corporate Spend Podcast, Martyn explains that we all have an ‘imprint’ that drives us to support and help others in times of need. And that tapping into this DNA is key to developing a successful CSR strategy within businesses.

A general overview of the Australian giving space reveals a gap between what charities need from businesses and what businesses offer. The Benojo platform thus aims to close this gap by connecting businesses and charities, giving them a common set of tools and standards that everyone can use. By streamlining the process of giving and creating a common language, businesses are able to implement valuable CSR strategies and measure the outcomes.

But why the need for a CSR strategy?

From a businesses perspective, giving brings value to organisations in terms of brand value and community perception. Martyn believes CSR strategy is a “conversation that needs to be had by businesses of all sizes because it can have such a huge impact on the bottom line,” with 55% of global consumers willing to pay extra for a product or service from a company committed to a positive social impact. A valuable CSR strategy also attracts and retains the right kind of talent, with 67% of people around the world preferring to work for a socially responsible company.

Benojo’s transformation of the giving landscape in Australia aims to target the untapped resources of the small to mid-size business sector, as Martyn says, “if we can leverage the small-mid sector in Australia by their current giving and we can extend it out only by 2%, we can potentially add another billion dollars in terms of time and money to charity sector.”

However, the small to mid-size business sector generally lack the tools and knowledge to create a valuable CSR strategy. With this in mind, Martyn proposes three key actions for businesses to take:

1. Ask yourself

Do you have the right kind of company culture to enable giving? Giving needs to be a mindset, so businesses should evaluate their time and resources in enabling a CSR program.

2. Develop a meaningful strategy

Development of a meaningful strategy means maximising business impact by finding the right kind of charities to align with. Businesses should look for charities that share a common denominator with the company culture or brand offering.

3. Storytell well

Martyn believes that people are motivated by seeing other people take action and by positive outcomes. Storytelling and publication of positive results will get consumers and stakeholders involved in the CSR strategy and propel is further.

Leveraging the small-to-mid businesses sector is imperative as we can no longer solely rely on government donations to fuel the giving sector. If business gave 0.01% as direct contribution to the giving space, it would equal the current government contribution. Mobilising this untapped resource with the tools to give and creating a streamlined CSR strategy would broaden the giving space and give the abundance of charities in Australia (particularly smaller charities) the option to partner with a suitable donor. As summed up by Martyn, “we just wanted to create something that makes it easy for people to give. They want to give.”

You can listen to Martyn’s full podcast here

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Get involved with Giving Tuesday

Giving Tuesday takes place this year on December 1. It’s a day that calls on all parts of the community – individuals, families, businesses, community centres, students, retailers, corporations and more – to give. We spoke to Anne Gawen, CEO of not-for-profit Connecting Up (who are supporting the day) to find out more about this giving movement. [embedyt]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=exDQ9K1Vwmc&width=600&height=350[/embedyt]

A campaign to give

“#GivingTuesday is a campaign to create a national day of giving at the start of the annual holiday season. It celebrates and encourages charitable activities that support not-for-profit organisations,” says Gawen.

Having started in the U.S. the campaign has grown globally with the backing of some impressive supporters.

“New York’s 92nd Street Y was the catalyst and incubator for #GivingTuesday, bringing the expertise of 139 years of community-management to the project and providing #GivingTuesday a home. The United Nations Foundation joined as partners, bringing their strategic and communications clout to the project. An amazing team of influencers then offered their ideas, contacts and wisdom to help shape and improve the concept. A powerful list of corporations and non-profits agreed to be founding partners, helping spread the word and committing to their own #GivingTuesday initiatives,” explains Gawen.

“Since then, countless organisations, friends and leaders have all added their support and talents to make #GivingTuesday a reality.”

Growing bigger each year

In its second year, online donations increased 90 per cent worldwide on #GivingTuesday. Now in its fourth year in Australia, #GivingTuesday is gaining momentum.

“This year, we have been lucky enough to have PayPal join the campaign,” says Gawen. “They will be contributing to donations on #GivingTuesday. For those who donate on #GivingTuesday, PayPal will add 1 per cent of their gift to the donation. So what better day to donate to a cause than #GivingTuesday.”

Your personal take on giving

“#GivingTuesday is an initiative to start the giving season and we encourage everyone to be involved with it,” says Gawen.

Those looking to get involved should visit the #GivingTuesday site, which has ideas and resources for not-for-profits, businesses and individuals on how to take part in the day.

“The great thing about this movement is that #GivingTuesday is all about giving how you choose, to who you feel passionately about. There is no biased to any cause, so whether you are an organisation, corporate or individual you are able to give just how you want! It’s important to remember that #GivingTuesday is a movement around giving, not just fundraising,” explains Gawen.

“You can give your time, money, love, a tweet, a gesture and more. So no matter how big or small your giving is, be a part of the global movement by hashtagging #GivingTuesday.”

How do you plan to give during holiday season?

Contact us to learn more about our work and how we could help you.

Etsy community comes together to Make for Good

This year, Australian Etsy sellers are coming together for the #makeforgood campaign. Running until December 24, participating sellers will donate at least 20% of every sale to Plan International’s Because I Am A Girl initiative (and Etsy will donate their commission on those sales) with the hope of providing grants to 150 Cambodian women to start their own micro businesses and lift themselves – and their communities – out of poverty. Many of the goods being sold have been inspired by the initiative’s theme of creating a ‘silver lining’ for the girls. We spoke to Helen Souness, Etsy managing director for Australia and Asia, to learn more about this wonderful collaboration. [embedyt]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-SltEIfyfKg&feature=youtu.be&width=600&height=350[/embedyt]

A perfect pairing:

At Etsy, our mission is to reimagine commerce in ways that build a more fulfilling and lasting world and we know that our talented community of makers, designers and curators are as passionate about creating change as they are about creating. When Plan International approached us earlier this year about working together, we saw a beautiful alignment in values and purpose and a wonderful opportunity to help change the world for girls.

The #makeforgood collaboration was designed to tap into the collective creative energy of Etsy’s Australian maker community to create beautiful handmade products and real change for girls around the world by supporting Plan International’s Because I Am A Girl initiative.

Giving other female business owners a helping hand:

Etsy is filled with creative entrepreneurs who pursue their passions, work for themselves and define success in their own terms. More than 90 per cent of Australian Etsy sellers are female, many of them young women, or women at home with children. Many have never owned a business until they open their Etsy shop but become entrepreneurs in their own right thanks to the low­risk and accessible platform Etsy offers.

But as Plan International’s work and the Because I Am A Girl campaign highlights, it’s not as easy for all women around the world to start their own business or transform their futures. We’re so excited to be working with Plan International and with our community of Etsy sellers in Australia to create meaningful products designed to make a real difference.

The #makeforgood project has seen Etsy sellers around Australia create products inspired by the Because I Am A Girl campaign and its mission to unleash the incredible potential of girls by promoting their rights, transforming futures and creating a better world for all. They are donating at least 20% of revenue from the sale of the products they create for the #makeforgood collection, while Etsy will donate commission on those sales to Because I Am A Girl.

Funding better futures for women in need:

All funds raised will support Because I Am A Girl projects that help promote the equal rights of all children, helping lift girls around the world ­ and their entire communities - out of poverty (see an example of some of their work here).

The goal for the project, set in consultation with many Etsy sellers involved, is to provide grants to 150 Cambodian women to start their own micro businesses and lift themselves out of poverty.

Etsy Australia’s community keen for the cause:

The overwhelming response from our community of Australian Etsy sellers has highlighted how much they care about girls’ rights and how eager they are to use their creative talents to support Plan International’s Because I Am A Girl campaign in their work to change the world for girls. More than 400 Etsy sellers from around Australia have registered to #makeforgood so far, donating anywhere from 20 to 100 per cent of the sale value of the items they make to Because I Am A Girl.

From one­of-a-kind jewellery and bespoke artworks to homewares, beauty products, and children’s toys, the #makeforgood collection that has been created reflects the diverse talents of Etsy’s creative community in Australia and their collective motivation to help educate and empower girls and work to end poverty.

You can shop for #makeforgood products until 24 December.

Do you want to contribute more this Christmas? Sign up here and we'll connect you to the right cause for you!

Contact us to learn more about our work.

What happens when you combine cycling, business and helping others?

[embedyt]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=otntvEe8wS0&width=600&height=350[/embedyt] Atma Cycles is an Australian not-for-profit, who for every bike sold donates one to a schoolgirl in India to enable her to get to and from school and continue her education. Atma is the Hindi word for ‘soul’ and Atma Cycles believe that “every bicycle we sell comes with a soul of its own, and every soul has a soul mate”. Essentially, every Atma bicycle sold “has a soul mate that is helping someone somewhere in the world”.

A desire to do something better

“The story behind Atma comes from a joining of three passions of mine: Cycling, business and helping others,” says Alex Carpenter, founder and self-described ‘chief cycle giver’ of Atma Cycles.

Carpenter says the question ‘why?’ was one that haunted him ever since he studied commerce (majoring in accounting) at university. In a blog he wrote on the subject, he notes his constant desire to do more with his life than simply pursuing money: “Was money it? The ‘be all and end all’ of all major life decisions? Why am I trying so hard to earn more money when I know more money is not going to make me any happier? Why am I trying to grow this business when the best outcome I could possibly achieve is that I make more money?”

He surmises: “Basically after years in for-profit business I felt unfulfilled and wanted to do something that helps others rather than just chasing more money for money's sake.” From which Atma Cycles was launched.

A model made for giving

“Our business model includes two not-for-profits: The first is Atma Cycles Limited which makes and sells the bikes here in Australia and then we have Atma Cycles Foundation which does the bike giveaways in India,” says Carpenter of Atma Cycles’ business model.

“The reason for this is we wanted to create a way for people to support the cause where 100% of their donations would go to the cause. But on top of this it makes a clear distinction between the cash for operations and the cash for the social purpose.”

No wages, bills or expenses are drawn from the Atma Cycles Foundation as they are paid for by Atma Cycles – so every dollar donated goes towards buying bicycles.

Helping causes you care about

Inspired? Carpenter offers these words of wisdom to those looking to help causes they care about: “My advice to people is to get involved but start small and grow from there. Just going to an event and talking to the different people there you quickly learn how you fit in and how you can best help. On top of this we heavily rely on word of mouth. Our lack of traditional advertising budget is actually where the funds for the bicycle giveaway comes from but in order for this to work we need people to actively tell people about us and I know a lot of NFPs and social enterprises are in the same boat. So tell as many people as you can, it really does help.”

People showing their support for Atma Cycles is something Carpenter himself rates as a highlight: “My favourite moment is actually every time someone signs up to our mailing list, I get a notification when they do and it reminds me that people believe what we believe and that people are out there supporting our mission.”

Learn more about Atma Cycles and the Atma Cycles Foundation.

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How Melbourne has tapped into the power of community

[embedyt]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1XJ1WGccZlY&width=600&height=350[/embedyt] On Friday mornings, come rain or shine, The Community Grocer team (many of who are volunteers) come together at the base of the three high-rise buildings that make up 510 Lygon Street in the Melbourne suburb of Carlton to set up their weekly food market.

A social enterprise that aims to connect people living in public housing to fresh and affordable food, we spoke to Georgia Savage, who co-manages The Community Grocer with Dori Ellington, to learn more about the project, the power of community and how people can make a difference on their own.

In the beginning: 

The Community Grocer was started in October 2014 with seed funding from the City of Melbourne. It is a social enterprise that aims to increase access for people living in public housing to fresh, high-quality fruit and vegetables.

We run a weekly market on a Friday between 9.30am and 12.30pm at 510 Lygon Street in Carlton. Carlton is a diverse suburb of Melbourne with very wealthy residents living alongside students and families, who are struggling to pay rent, cover bills and buy enough food to put dinner on the table. The average weekly shop at the local supermarket in Carlton costs about 50 per cent of a weekly Centrelink payment for a family of four - which is simply too much.

We identified this need and decided to introduce a local market, targeted towards people from low socio-economic backgrounds who experience barriers sourcing cheaper food from further away. The market has been running for almost a year now, and we have served more than 3000 customers or approximately 160 people per week. We have sold more than 2.5 tonnes of tomatoes and 600 watermelons.

Each Friday, there is a wonderful, vibrant atmosphere at the market with people from diverse ethnic backgrounds shopping alongside one another and sharing the free vegetarian lunch that is on offer for all. It is a wonderful market not only for the food security it has brought for the people living at 510 Lygon Street Carlton, but also for the sense of community it has helped to create.

A Friday morning at the Community Grocer is…

Hilariously chaotic! We arrive at 7.30am to take the delivery of delicious fruit and vegetables from the wholesaler. We pull out the tables from the community hall and set them up at the base of the three high-rise buildings that make up 510 Lygon Street.

Onto these tables we load all the fruit and veg in baskets, set up the tills and begin prepping for the free BBQ lunch. We always take a delivery from Secondbite, who provide free packaged food that we are able to distribute to our customers who would like to supplement their weekly shop. To do all this, we have the helping hands of four to five volunteers every week, and we couldn't do it without them!

The market is supposed to open at 9.30am but most weeks people start coming from about 8.30am once the fruit and veg is out - they are keen shoppers! The market is busy for the whole morning with over 160 customers coming through, some just to buy a bulb of garlic and others to stock up on 12kg of onions.

How can people create projects or campaigns to help causes they care about:

A really important part of starting The Community Grocer in Carlton was community consultation. Through this we ensured that people living in the public housing estate wanted this market, and we made sure to hold it at a time and a place that would suit our customers.

We have listened and continued to evolve the market with the advice of our regulars - bringing in new and different stock to try, changing opening times and introducing home deliveries. Our customers make the market what it is, and so ensuring they are on this journey with us was so pivotal to it's overall success.

Favourite part:

We love watching our customers interact - helping each other to pick the best tomatoes, sharing a couple of dollars so that everyone can buy what they need, looking out for all the children who run through the market with their parents every week. The market aims to create a sense of community and seeing this makes us feel like we are doing a great job of this!

The importance of volunteers:

Volunteers are absolutely critical to the success of The Community Grocer - we simply couldn't run it every week without them. Some volunteers arrive at 7.30am to help us set up, and others stay past closing time to make sure we're all packed up. Volunteers can be local residents at the estate or they may live in the Carlton community - everyone is welcome to give us a helping hand. One of our volunteers, Nirma, was able to secure employment from CERES Fair Food as a result of his work and experience with us, which is a really great outcome from volunteering with The Community Grocer.

Simple things people can do to make a difference:

  • Engage with their local community!
  • Taking the time to stop and smile or chat with your neighbour makes a difference.
  • Paying attention and noticing the people who might be struggling a little bit, who might need an extra meal or a lift to an appointment all makes a huge difference (even though it seems like a small act).
  • Supporting local businesses and trying to make it down to a local market like The Community Grocer, instead of the big supermarkets, helps to strengthen the community in which you live. Small actions - big differences!

The Community Grocer is located at 510 Lygon Street, Carlton and operates every

Friday, from 9.30am to 12.30pm.

Benojo connects those who want to give with those in need.

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Want to Be an Unfucker?

Be an Unfucker is a website that offers the well intended among us a gentle push towards being more environmentally conscious. It promotes – in a refreshingly straight-talking tone – the idea that making small changes in our everyday lives can make a big collective impact on climate change. We spoke to Vanessa Morrish, co-founder of the site, to learn more. change one thing

Collective impact

‘The planet's fucked but we're optimistic we can turn things around. Be An Unfucker and start by changing one un eco-friendly habit at a time’ – this is the philosophy behind The Unfuckers. It’s not hugely complex but simply encourage individuals to take action.

“The whole point of the site is not to say you have to change your whole life. It’s like when you have any big problem you break it down into small pieces – and that’s what we are proposing,” explains Vanessa Morrish, a writer, who co-founded the site with friend Caro Shields, an art director and designer, in September last year.

It’s a creative pairing that’s evident in the site’s look, feel and tone, something that Vanessa describes as “100% us and our aesthetic”. While the site uses colourful graphics, cool images and cheeky calls to action [like Cut the scrap, Go eco fool and Recycle responsibly, damn it), their messages are clear, no bullshit and backed by stats and research.

The action element of how to ‘Be an Unfucker’ is delivered through their weekly facts and blogs and shared across their growing social media communities (they currently have over 3,000 followers on Instagram and 10,000 on Facebook). A great example of how to inspire individuals into action with easy everyday tips and suggestions that aren’t hard to implement.

It’s the little things

“You choose one thing: ‘I’m not really good at recycling’, for example,” explains Vanessa on how to start Being an Unfucker. “So you learn what are the things that you can and can’t recycle – because if you don’t actually recycle properly, there’s no actual point in doing it in the first place. And once you’ve got a handle on that, you go: ‘What else can I do?’ Then you say: ‘Okay well I take really long showers and I know that that’s not great because it’s a waste of water and energy’. So you take shorter showers.”

She says: “The whole point of the site is to provide these small tips that people can take on, embrace in their life and go forward with.”

Making the impossible accessible

Vanessa highlights that while issues like climate change can seem overwhelming there is plenty, if many small things, that each of us can do to help address it.

“I think what we want to do is give more of a personal edge to climate change. When you read about it in the paper and you watch it on the news, it can feel quite far away and people think ‘I can’t do anything about that’. But I can start talking about it and making it more of a prominent issue among my friends. I can start being aware of it more in general and I can start by making small changes in my life,” says Vanessa on what Be an Unfucker hopes to achieve.

“We all have choices. It’s nice to bring it home, so it’s relevant in our lives and makes people feel empowered, like they can do something.”

Benojo connects those who want to give with those in need.

If you want to discover even more charities that match your desire to give contact us to learn more about our work.

 

Interview with Shared Value Project’s Executive Director Helen Steel

Last month, the Shared Value Project released its inaugural State of Shared Value in Australia 2015 report, the first survey of its kind in Australia. We caught up with Helen Steel, the Project’s executive director to learn out more about the findings and how they hope to apply them. Shared Value Australia

The State of Shared Value in Australia 2015 report was the first of its kind in Australia, how did it come about?

Well, the fact there is very little research, or collective information, here in Australia. Part of our mission is to support research and actually do some. We thought this was a great place for us to start − to see what was actually happening in the shared value space here.

We know that our member organisations are doing shared value, or aspiring to do shared value. We did have a point of reference to start, but we thought it would be really interesting to broaden that conversation and extend it to others, like ASX 100 companies, multinationals and other big organisations that we knew were starting to dabble.

It was to get a baseline of activity and an understanding what was happening here in Australia and how we as an organisation should be supporting the movement.

Mark Kramer said of the survey that he was “deeply impressed by the level of enthusiasm for shared value in Australia” but noted its “still-nascent status”. What were your thoughts of the survey and what it said of the state of shared value in Australia?

There are a couple of different conversations taking place around this. One, some of these ideas have been around for a long time, but what shared value has provided is a new language. I think it’s the language, as much as anything, that’s new. Those organisations that identified shared value are using it in the Kramer/Porter way. It’s also fair enough to say that there aren’t a huge number of organisations that are doing that and that it is very much in its infancy there.

But some of the philosophy, framework and methodology behind shared value isn’t entirely new. It’s definitely an evolution of, I think, Corporate Social Responsibility. CSR served a really terrific purpose in helping businesses to consider how they actually engaged with society and what their responsibilities were. I think that shared value takes that conversation to the next level and says ‘yes you should be engaging responsibly but you can do it where there is an economic benefit’.

What advice would you give to a company looking to embrace or grow shared value within their business?

I think what the survey provided was some really good Australian case studies – certainly become a member of our organisation and join the network and you’ll have that peer-to-peer learning opportunity!

I think that what we are seeing is that the companies that are starting to do it [shared value] successfully and getting buy in is those looking within the organisation to see if they have any existing examples – and using that as a means to hold up a successful case study.

One of the organisations doing that is Suncorp. At one of their insurance companies, AAMI, they have a Skilled Drivers Course and whilst that program has been around for 30 years, they hadn’t, until recently, identified it as a shared value activity. It’s a great example of a service they provide to help the 17-25 age group – where the fatality and accident rate is high – with better education and awareness on how to be a responsible and good driver.

They have got economic evidence to support it too. There are more than 100,000 drivers that have gone through that program; some 4,000 a year do. That cohort of drivers has a lower amount of claims. So there is economic benefit to AAMI; and to the driver, as their car isn’t involved in the accident; and, of course the benefit to society is enormous, as they are much more responsible drivers. So if organisations that can find those sorts of examples that already exist in their company, it’s a great way to sell it internally.

I would really encourage those wanting to take on shared value to get some education. We have plenty of workshops and programs that we are starting to roll out now that anybody can attend to get a better understanding of what shared value is.

I also think we have seen a lot of organisations that have a champion, someone who is really interested in it [shared value]. They go out and get the education and take that back to the organisation and see who else should be involved. Sometimes it starts within the CSR division but more and more we are seeing it sit within strategy in an organisation. Then a really good measure of success for an organisation – if they are getting the internal messaging right – is that their CEO starts to talk about it and use the language.

The survey identified two questions that required further discussion: How can we change the way companies approach shared value so that it focuses on a specific social issue? And what should the role should of government and not-for-profits be? Why are these important to shared value moving forward?

I think that we see shared value and the organisations that take it on be very successful when they collaborate. I think that more and more big companies think about community partnerships, and think about how they can help solve some of the issues.

I think partnering with not-for-profit organisations will be really fundamental because not-for-profits often understand an issue or sector – that some of these companies are looking at going into – really well. So I think there is a wealth of knowledge that they can tap into through the not-for-profit sector.

I think what we will see is that not-for-profits will become service providers to some of these big corporates, rather than the traditional model of getting a grant or a large donation. Then they will work together with that organisation to develop a business strategy for a sustainable solution. I see those partnerships as being quite integral to the ongoing success of shared value.

Then there’s the role of government – there are two aspects to that. There’s the role of government as rule setters and providing the platform in which that sort of collaboration can happen. And then there’s government business. For example, DFAT made a ministerial statement on a program they have been doing with Australian AID and shared value is at the core of that.

Government can really benefit as well and are well placed to facilitate and bring together the right players, be it the corporate or the not-for-profit sector, to actually help resolve some of those problems as well. So I see their role as very much a moderator, facilitator, as well as providing good, sound policy and a platform for it to actually happen in.

Learn more about the Shared Value Project here.

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Small actions, big impact: The Last Straw

Eva Mackinley is the passionate and determined founder of The Last Straw, a campaign to reduce the use of plastic straws in venues across Australia (and beyond). The Last Straw targets both venues and consumers. It asks consumers to ‘sip, don’t suck’ and forgo plastic straws when they order drinks out, while encouraging venues to give out less straws and help reduce waste through responsible disposal of used straws. We spoke to Eva to learn more about how she came to create The Last Straw and what she hopes to achieve through it. [embed]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x0ywTO-K56M&feature=youtu.be[/embed]

On starting The Last Straw:

I have worked in hospitality for a long time to fund my social volunteerism. I always saw the two things as completely separate, but one day as I was dumping a bucket load of used straws in the bin, I asked myself for the first time where they would actually be going. I did a bit of research about straw use and the impact of mass plastic waste and figured this was something that needed to change in a big way. There are so many campaigns and organisations out there striving to reduce plastic waste, which is amazing to see. We like to see our point of difference as working with venues, who are some of the biggest sources of straw waste. The more of us out there advocating for this cause, the better.

Staggering stats:

In my hospitality job – in a moderately busy Hobart bar – we'll go through maybe 20,000 straws a year. Now imagine how many venues there are in Melbourne and Sydney alone, and how many more straws they would be using and throwing out as they go. That doesn't even take into account the big franchises like McDonald’s and KFC. Estimations from the United States are that they will use and discard 500,000,000 plastic straws every day. These straws don't just disappear when they're put in the bin. They either go to landfill or they go into our waterways. You start to get an idea of just how massive this problem is. We at The Last Straw see plastic straws as an unnecessary luxury with a massively negative impact. There is a big disconnect between what people hold in their hands or put on their plates and where it comes from or what it means for the world on the big scale.

Plastic straws are a perfect example – people don't need them, at all. They are nothing more than a convenience, yet because of social convention they are slowly clogging up our waterways and our landfill to the tune of hundreds of millions per day across the globe. Would anyone use them if they understood the impact they were having? Hopefully not. The Last Straw is about encouraging behaviour changes in venues and consumers to stem the tide of unnecessary plastic waste going over the bar every day.

How to support The Last Straw campaign:

First and foremost it’s about reducing overall usage – just stop using straws altogether. For businesses, it's about getting staff to promote that idea and stop just serving one or two straws in every drink they put across the bar. There are definitely a bunch of great alternatives out there – stainless steel or glass straws that are reusable in the same way that knives and forks are used and washed and reused at a restaurant. There's no reason why straws have to be disposable. There is also a lot of great work happening in the bioplastics sphere; creating substances that mimic plastic and are biodegradable from all natural materials. There are still a lot of teething problems in bringing bioplastic alternatives into the mainstream. They have to be disposed of in particular composting facilities to actually biodegrade, and current manufacturing of these straws comes mostly from corn, which puts pressure on an already stretched food resource. But further developments in the field in years to come will hopefully see us with a fully biodegradable straight replacement for the plastic straw. For now, just don't use them!

Advice on how to help a cause you care about:

At the heart of The Last Straw is the idea that we all have to do less harm as well as doing more good.

Sometimes the best way to help a cause you care about is to alter your lifestyle a little. Buy and use a keep cup; bring your own bags to the supermarket; buy self care products that don't use microbeads or animal testing; go vegetarian or vegan for a few days a week. All this really adds up if everyone starts doing it. That is where the big change starts. It's in all of our hands to make choices and live in a way that is beyond just ourselves and our immediate wants and conveniences. In terms of doing more good: volunteer, volunteer and volunteer. It is the best way to add value to a cause. Most organisations are pretty strapped when it comes to financial resources, so any services or person power that they don't have to pay for is an amazing contribution. It also allows you to learn and grow and be a part of a community of like-minded people.

On an end note:

We've just launched, and we've got some big plans on the horizon! If you'd like to learn more or get involved, check out laststraw.com.au or email hello@laststraw.com.au.

Benojo connects those who want to give with those in need. If you want to discover even more charities that match your desire to give contact us to learn more about our work.