Does Australia have a culture of philanthropy?

The (6) It’s a question to ponder as we move into a New Year.

We here at Benojo do believe that Australia has a culture of philanthropy, but we also think it’s up to businesses, individuals and charities to help shape and define it.

Here’s our take on it.

Go your own way

“It is up to every organisation and charity to create their own culture of philanthropy,” explained Benojo’s Queen of Melbourne, Kim Downes, at our recent corporate Beyond Donations roundtable session.

“We have to look at our people, we have to look at what’s important to them and to nurture and cultivate this. It’s going to be in donations, in volunteering and even skills-based volunteering by getting people on the board or committee that have the skills that the business needs to get the organisation moving forward.”

A new generation, a new approach 

“Millennials are defining philanthropy differently – they want a voice and they want to be able to network,” notes Kim. “They don’t want their efforts to just be a result of something the business is involved in. They want to be involved themselves – to contribute and have a say in how the company is contributing. They want to network and not just within their own companies, but within their communities and with those within other companies.”

Australia versus the world

Released in November, the annual World Giving Index, undertaken by The Charities Aid Foundation, provides a global view of giving trends.

The 2014 index, which included data from 135 countries across the globe, ranked countries based on three key areas: numbers of people giving their money, volunteering their time and helping strangers.

It’s hearting to learn that Australia placed sixth on the index, with a combined score of 56 per cent (based on how they ranked across the three areas of giving). Australia’s scores were: helping a stranger (65 per cent), donating money (66 per cent) and volunteering time (37 per cent).

The first place ranking was shared between the United States and Myanmar, with a total score of 64 per cent.

A checklist for charities

“I often am told by people in the non for profit sector that Australia will never have the same culture of philanthropy that exists in North America. That’s just not true,” said Kim at the charity Beyond Donation roundtable session.

“Such a state of mind is all about education, consistency and stewardship. Understanding the basis and history of philanthropy will assist any organisation is creating and strengthening their own organisational culture. In order to change things in your organisation, one must first understand the existing attitude toward philanthropy and the whole process of cultivation, communication and stewardship.

An organisation with a strong culture of philanthropy often includes the following elements:

• A board that is demonstrating by leading

• Mission and vision driven goals

• Value in staffing, structure and processes

• Strong communication with stakeholders that is not just one way

Valuing and measuring time talent and treasureis so important. Giving it tangibility will help our organisations and our leadership understand the true value of not only fundraising but of volunteer efforts. It will also help us create stronger bonds in the community.”

Do you think that Australia has a culture of philanthropy?

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