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Charity starts at home…and at work

There’s an old idiom that says charity starts at home, but as the payroll giving trend starts taking off in South Africa, charity may very well find its place at work, giving new meaning to the concept of ‘give as you earn’. Already well-established in the UK and US, payroll giving is gaining traction in South Africa, offering employers a simple but effective way to involve their employees in social investment initiatives while building a shared culture of caring for vulnerable groups and communities. Payroll giving is facilitated by employers, and enables employees to donate a chosen amount to a supported charity straight from their gross salary before it is taxed each month, with a minimum of hassle.

‘Payroll Giving is growing in South Africa, and is founded on the basis that many small donations, given on a recurring basis, with minimal administration required by the employer, can amount to a substantial and meaningful impact for a needy charity. If only 10 per cent of South Africa’s 9.2 million employed people contributed R50 a month of their salaries, it would amount to R46 million every month, or R552 million every year invested in charitable programmes. Many companies are also challenging employees to support such programmes, with the promise of matching and doubling up on whatever employees donate in their personal capacities,’ explained Michelle Govender, Director of Strategic Marketing at B-Cause. B-Cause is a specialist agency in South Africa that focuses specifically on cause-related marketing, social responsibility and sustainability issues, matching corporate brands with appropriate social and public benefit organisations.

‘One of the greatest appeals of payroll giving is that employees have the peace of mind that all the checks and balances are in place, and that approved charities supported by their employer have been through the process of confirming their legitimacy and that the funds will be used effectively. There is also the cohesion that comes from working towards supporting a common vision where everyone’s smaller contributions can make a huge social difference as a collective effort. Finally, not all employees are able to invest their time or skills in worthy causes as often as they would like to, so payroll giving provides an opportunity to be part of a well-managed charitable effort, on a consistent basis without any demands on their time,’ added Michelle.

While payroll giving initially took off in larger employers, small and medium commercial entities are also seeing the opportunity to rally their people around a common cause, with a minimum of effort and costs to company to administer the effort. At the same time, it provides the business with a distinct competitive advantage to differentiate in an increasingly socially-conscious consumer market. In fact, progressive business strategists have long been advocating for corporate social investment to be managed as aspects of core business strategy.

Entrench a culture of giving
There is an important internal marketing job to be done in creating and maintaining the payroll giving momentum. B-Cause works with employers to introduce and demonstrate to staff how easy it is to make a difference with payroll giving. Invest the marketing resources to promote the payroll giving opportunities, and then get leadership involved to challenge employees and set the bar. It’s also vital that staff get to see the results of their contributions, so provide regular feedback on how their hard earned money has benefitted a needy cause.

Payroll giving drives employee engagement

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