Banks, miners lead the way in philanthropy
Banks, retailers and energy miners delivered among the biggest corporate donations over the past year, although just 10 ASX-listed companies provided 80 per cent of donations from business.
Despite a double-digit lift in charitable donations by the embattled financial services sector in the shadow of the Hayne royal commission, Australian business still trail their global peers when it comes to giving.
The second annual GivingLarge Report compiled by Strive Philanthropy and supported by Philanthropy Australia found the top 50 listed companies donated $945 million to community causes last year, up 11 per cent from the year before.
The Australian. Business. Tuesday 23rd July.
The total represented 0.62 per cent of pre-tax profits, or 0.58 per cent of earnings, and there have
been calls for Australian businesses to lift their contribution.
The biggest increases last year included institutions in the finance sector — specifically
Commonwealth Bank, ANZ, National Australia Bank and QBE — as well as Wesfarmers and Oil
Search, who led corporate Australia’s giving in Strive’s inaugural GivingLarge report released a year
ago. Strive Philanthropy director Jarrod Miles said the average 0.6 per cent in percentage
contribution of earnings or profit from the top 50 was “batting well below global averages and the
commonly encouraged benchmark of 1 per cent”.
“This signifies a remarkable opportunity for this group of companies with the potential to shift an
additional $600m of funds to the community if these companies can all commit to this reasonable
target,’’ he said.
Mr Miles also expressed concerns about 80 per cent of the total coming from just 10 companies in
just three sectors: finance, materials and consumer.
While the consumer and health care sector were the most generous in terms of the percentage
giving, it was the mining and materials sector that contributed the largest total sum ($393m
representing 42 per cent of the total).
“These trends are in keeping with previous reports and demonstrate that within our top
corporations there are a small number of companies contributing the most to the community,’’ Mr
“Sectors with lower contributions (both percentage and total) included the industrial, utility and
information technology sectors with average per cent contributions all below 0.3 per cent. While
these companies are giving considerable amounts to the community there remains an opportunity
for these organisations to increase their contributions in line with their ASX peers.”
The GivingLarge analysis uses standards developed by the London Benchmarking Group and the
Global Reporting Initiative. It does not take into account political donations or sponsorships.
The GivingLarge study found the finance sector lifted its giving last year by 28 per cent to $37m.
The largest increases came from CBA, NAB and ANZ, who collectively lifted their giving by more
than $37m. These extra funds were funnelled to community causes such as education,
health/medical research and financial literacy and inclusion.
“As the royal commission conducted hearings, interviews and audits into the misconduct of the
sector, these companies were reaching into their deep pockets to give greater amounts to the
community,’’ Mr Miles said.
“Was this a knee-jerk reaction to the scrutiny placed on these companies or a natural progression
resulting from strong sector profits in 2017? Either way, this significant change for our community
was not to be sneezed at.”
When looking at 2018 alone in terms of profits, QBE Insurance was the finance industry leader,
donating 0.78 per cent of profits.
Wesfarmers was again the largest giver, donating $87m or 2.5 per cent of its bottom line returns.
Oil Search was the largest giver as a percentage of earnings, donating $31m or 1.7 per cent of
This year Strive broadened its research to include ASX 100 corporations and provided an additional
analysis of high revenue private companies.
Of the private companies with more than $2 billion in revenue, only Cotton On Group and health
fund provider HCF disclosed data. The former disclosed community contributions worth up to
DAMON KITNEY, VICTORIAN BUSINESS EDITOR