Giving and perspective from below the line

In our series on philanthropy and the science of giving, bluenotes presents prominent figures and representatives of organisations speaking about giving and its social impact.

Below, we speak to Kate Langan, Group General Manager Property ANZ, about her experience of giving and involvement in the 2017 Live Below the Line challenge. 

In Australia in 2015 there were just under 51,000 charities - as per the Australian Charities Report 2015 - supporting causes ranging from social services and the environment to culture and recreation and everything in between.

" Business leaders have a responsibility to use their networks to raise awareness.”
-Kate Langan, Group General Manager Property, ANZ

In such a crowded market place, how does a charity raise the money they need to make an impact for their cause?

In many cases they simply partner with organisations with big money to spend on corporate philanthropy. According to the Giving Australia 2016 report corporate philanthropy in Australia is thriving.

In 2015-16, large business gave $A9 billion and small-and-medium enterprises gave $A8.5 billion, totalling $A17.5 billion over the previous financial year.

And by partnering with large organisations, it’s not just the employers’ deep pockets contributing to the cause – 56 per cent of organisations who contributed to charities did so through workplace giving schemes, where the organisation matched an employee’s contribution dollar for dollar.

Eighty-five per cent of organisations offered their employees the opportunity to make regular donations from their pre-tax salary.

Other charities raise their profile through fundraising efforts. Fun runs, ice-bucket challenges, morning teas – many efforts work because they give participants something social to participate in, in return for donating money.

Someone else’s shoes

Some charities go the opposite direction and fundraise by asking participants to get out of their comfort zone and do more than just donate money – they’re invited to put themselves in the shoes of the people they are raising funds for, if just for a short time.

It’s this kind of challenge that thousands of corporate rank, file and officers participate in every year. Kate Langan, Group General Manager Property at ANZ, was one. 

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Live Below the Line

Oaktree hosts a yearly challenge – Live Below the Line – where fundraisers live for five days on their country’s extreme poverty line. In Australia that’s $A2 per day.

Langan participated in the challenge this year. She says she was drawn to this charity through a connection – her son volunteers with the organisation – and, as idealistic 20-somethings are prone to do to their parents, Langan’s son had given her a hard time about her “first-world problems” spurring Langan into action.

“Jack and his friends had such enthusiasm and passion for this cause,” she told bluenotes. “I thought I could use my networks to help raise money, and I was curious to see if I could do the challenge”.

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For Langan participating was not just about raising money but also awareness of the cause.

“Business leaders have a responsibility to use their networks to raise awareness,” she said. “People look up to us, so if we do it, it encourages others to do it too”.

The Giving Australia 2016 report stated the main driver for corporate giving is to support the communities they operate it.

It’s mainly an ethical decision, but organisations also recognise it makes business sense because employees are attracted to organisations with a reputation for being ethical.

For Langan it is important for individuals and organisations to financially support the communities they live and operate in but she believes this type of fundraising challenge helped her to understand the issue on a whole new level.

“I kept feeling guilty because although I was eating cheap jam on toast and pot noodles for five days, at the end of it all, I knew I could go back to my real life and buy a healthy 9 dollar salad for lunch,” she says.

“I spent so much time and mental energy calculating every last cent of my shopping, browsing the internet for the best deals – but if I was truly in these circumstance, would I have the data plan to be able to do that research at all?”

“Would I have the fuel in the car or the money for a bus ticket to take me the different stores for the best prices? Would I have the time to invest in the shopping around for best prices?”

“It really made me think about what we, as a bank, can do to help people in that situation, to make their lives a little easier. Can we help fund development of an app that can be run using very little data or a budget calculator that takes up very little memory space on an older model phone?”

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Langan’s network, including the ANZ Group Property leadership team, friends from around the property industry and colleagues across the bank supported her efforts.

The challenge is taking donations until the end of June.

Lorissa Paulk is a contributing editor at BlueNotes


The views and opinions expressed in this communication are those of the author and may not necessarily state or reflect those of ANZ.

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