Join the march for corporate philanthropy

by Simon Lewis Philanthropy Partner Simon has a deep commitment to the non-profit and community sector on both a professional and a personal level. Simon was previously the Melbourne Head of Philanthropy and Community for The Trust Company. He has experience running his own foundation, as well as consulting to the non-profit sector across a variety of areas and issues.

Simon is a Rhodes Scholar with extensive experience in strategy consulting and financial services in Australia, Europe and Africa. He has a passion for his native country of Zimbabwe and founded the Hike4Hunger Foundation to raise awareness of World Food Day on October 16th after a severe drought in Zimbabwe.
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In an age of rapid transformation adapting to an online economy, it would seem we have hit an existential wall. As a result, initiatives to rewire business models, spark up corporate culture, reframe identity and establish corporate philanthropy programs to catch onto the wave of ‘purpose’ are everywhere.

Is ‘purpose’ the new ‘digital’?

Purpose gets to the ‘why?’ of your organisation, which precedes the ‘what?’ and the ‘how?’. Purpose is what draws your employees through the door each morning, ready to deliver their best. In our mature and competitive marketplace, organisations that have nailed their purpose are now winning the day, attracting the best staff, creating the best places to work, making the most customer advocates and achieving the strongest growth and performance. Try Atlassian as Australia’s poster child of purpose, with the results to show for it.

According to neuroscience, the power of “why?” is explained by biology. Our brains seek out higher meaning. It is due to the limbic system in our brain, located just beneath the cerebrum, which is not only responsible for our emotional lives but also many higher mental functions, such as learning and formation of memories. It is the part of the brain where deeper questions around identity, belonging and trust are answered as a ‘gut feel’ response. It is where we respond to emotional cues and form meaning from our experiences. When framing our purpose, whether as individuals, families or organisations, we do so by using emotional language, redolent with nuance and significance that speaks directly and powerfully to the limbic system.

Mutual Trust draws its purpose of ‘helping families achieve what matters most’ from the tradition of our founding families. Central to this tradition is the role played by philanthropy at a corporate, family and individual level in its focus on what matters most. For example, Sidney Myer’s legacy as a pioneering philanthropist was developed simultaneously through the corporate philanthropy of the Myer Emporium, the successive family foundations that followed, and of course his individual flourish and spontaneous generosity. Businesses, especially those owned and operated by families, are increasingly exploring this connection between corporate philanthropy, staff engagement, workplace culture and performance (not to mention the positive social outcomes for the community and environment). The Mutual Trust Staff Foundation (formerly the MFCo Staff Foundation) has been revamped to support a more integrated matched giving and volunteering program. We linked our purpose of the foundation to the core values and vision of our founders and have witnessed a dramatic increase in staff engagement, volunteering and matched giving in the last 12 months.

Having supported over 120 families to establish private foundations, we are now enjoying an increasing number of enquiries from family-owned businesses and corporates who are examining their purpose and the role philanthropy can play in fulfilling purpose. Successful business owners also recognise the value a successful corporate philanthropy program can add to the business brand and performance, but are often unsure about how where to start.

The Giving Trends 2017 study by Philanthropy Australia shows corporate philanthropy is on the march:

  • Corporate philanthropy is thriving, with $17bn donated in 2015/16
  • Community partnerships are the largest area of corporate giving
  • Workplace giving is the norm, and is offered by 85% of corporates that reported charitable giving

If you would like to explore the power of ‘why’ and join the movement of corporate philanthropy to unleash the full talent and potential of a family owned business to align with your philanthropic principles, let us know.

Mutual Trust can assist with:

  • Corporate foundations structures, advice and registration
  • Investment and compliance
  • Corporate giving programs
  • Workplace giving programs
  • Business succession

Mutual Trust Pty Ltd ACN 004 285 330 (AFSL 234590). Liability limited by a scheme approved under Professional Standards Legislation. For participating members (other than for the acts or omissions of Australian Financial Services Licensees). This information is general in nature and subject to change. It does not constitute tax, legal or financialadvice. We recommend you seek advice specific to your circumstances before taking any action. Copyright © 2014 Mutual Trust Pty Ltd.
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