Corporates giving large amounts to bushfire relief need to boost community budgets.
Big Business has given more than an estimated $88M to the bushfire relief efforts so far with the total expected to rise. The recent devastation across the country has triggered a significant and welcome response from the business community, with large cash donations as well as support on the ground with corporate resources and in-kind products to aid victims and firefighters.
The $88M consists of predominantly cash commitments and doesn’t include notable donations from corporate aligned private foundations like Minderoo, ($70M) and Paul Ramsay foundation ($30M).
The largest cash contributions came from the big four banks (estimated $19M total) and media giants News Corp and Seven Group* ($5M each).
Big business has the opportunity to be an important stakeholder during an emergency, with a unique capacity to rapidly secure resources for those in need. Large organisations can quickly mobilise cash, donate products and use their existing infrastructure to support critical operations like distribution and supply to affected areas. Companies can even influence their large network of suppliers, employees and customers to dig into their pockets. But how do corporations find the required funds when a significant emergency occurs? Do they quickly secure funds from existing community budgets? Do they have emergency response funds ready to distribute when needed? Or do they find funds elsewhere in the business?
To help answer some of these questions we have taken a deeper look at our GivingLarge database and our collection of public reports to understand how companies do indeed manage their budgets to support disaster relief.
In December 2019 the Financial Review reported the top 50 corporate givers in Australia contributed over $1.2B to the community in 2018/19. Data was primarily sourced from our GivingLarge report with some additional private disclosure we included from some large private companies. The report revealed considerable contributions from our top companies, including contributions of cash, volunteer time and products. Deeper analysis of our database shows “emergency relief” as a commonly cited category for corporate community budgets, with many large organisations having dedicated recovery policies prepared and ready to put into action. This surely constitutes best practice for large corporations. Developing a policy that can quickly be put into action, with funds that are set aside for disaster relief, funds that are quickly accessible and just as importantly aren’t taken from a bucket intended for other worthy community beneficiaries.
Deeper analysis of our database shows “emergency relief” as a commonly cited category for corporate community budgets, with many large organisations having dedicated recovery policies prepared and ready to put into action.
Many large organisations have put such policies in place including, for example, the ANZ bank and their Disaster Relief and Recovery Policy. ANZ stating on their website that “Our Disaster Relief and Recovery Policy aims to deliver an efficient, coordinated and proportionate response to disasters”. Their relief measures include:
- Financial assistance packages
- Funding for organisations involved in emergency relief (including direct donations and matching of staff fundraising)
- Medium to long-term natural disaster recovery grants
- Mobilising of ANZ volunteers to assist with community rebuilding.
Having this policy in place allows ANZ and other organisations with such policies to rapidly act during an emergency, roll out their plan and hopefully deliver on these commitments as quickly as possible.
But what about companies that don’t have these policies to put into action? How do they find funds for disaster relief but also preserve the budgets for other charity partners? These are difficult questions for many companies who more routinely direct their funds to other causes.
Decisions to quickly donate during an emergency should be commended but shortly after, companies should increase their community budgets to preserve the valued resources they provide to their existing community beneficiaries.
The majority of the annual community budgets from Australia’s largest corporates in 2018/19 went towards causes other than emergency relief. These include areas such as health, education, diversity and inclusion and the environment. Hundreds of charities, not-for-profits and community organisations in these areas rely on these corporate contributions to conduct their important work. Decisions to quickly donate during an emergency should be commended but shortly after, companies should increase their community budgets to preserve the valued resources they provide to their existing community beneficiaries.
Reassuringly, according to Corporate Citizenship Australia, a global consultancy that helps businesses measure and manage their corporate community investment, there was a spike in giving in 2009, after the Victorian bushfires. This indicates that companies do indeed secure extra funds on top of their normal community commitments to provide this emergency support. We will, of course, eagerly anticipate and hope for the same result form corporate Australia in 2020.
Reassuringly, according to Corporate Citizenship Australia, there was a spike in giving in 2009, after the Victorian bushfires
The corporations that have reached into their pockets generously at this time should be highlighted and encouraged to continue to give to this important cause. Equally, now is the time to call out to our corporate leaders at those very organisations to ensure that community budgets are extended in lieu of this crisis, to both those in need of support in bushfire affected regions and existing charity partners.
|Seven group||$5,000,000||*Cash portion not stated|
|News Corp||$5,000,000||Additional funds expected from upcoming fundraisers|
|Crown Resorts||$3,000,000||$5M total w Packer family|
|AFL||$2,500,000||Additional funds expected from State of Origin fundrasier match|
|Wesfarmers||$2,300,000||Additional funds expected from fundraisers ($600k) & matching ($1m)|
|Coles||$1,500,000||Additional $3m in gift cards|
|La Trobe Financial||$1,000,000|
|Amazon||$1,000,000||*Cash portion not stated|
|Johnson and Johnson||$600,000|
|Lion||$580,000||Additional $300-$500k expected through upcoming fundraisers|
|Bank of America||$367,000|
|Origin||$300,000||Committed $400k for fire season.|
|Super retail group||$250,000|
|CottonOn||$250,000||Up to $1.1M with customer, employee donations & further matching|
|Mitsui & Co||$200,000|
|Gilbert & Tobin||$200,000|
|IBM||$100,000||product donations of over $1m|
|Ford Motor Company||$100,000|
|KPMG||planned donation||Total not yet disclosed|
|Apple||planned donation||Total not yet disclosed|
|Virgin||matching donations.||Total not yet disclosed|
|Macqaurie Group||$1m matching program||Total not yet disclosed|
|Telstra||matching donations||Total not yet disclosed|
Table includes public disclosure of cash only contributions to 2019/20 bushfire appeals from corporates who have committed over $100k. Analysis restricted to high revenue corporations and in doing excludes a large amount of bushfire support given by smaller business. A large percentage of highlighted companies have committed additional resources such as employee volunteer time, employee and customer matching donations and donations of product or services not highlighted in this table. Total contibution expected to rise as donations from corporate matching programs and fundrasiers continue to come through.
*Seven Group and Amazon have not clearly disclosed the cash portion of their contribution.