Giving Circles at Work pilot an Australian-First

By: Lisa Grinham & Krystian Seibert   |   Industry Fellow at the Centre for Social Impact at Swinburne University (LG) and Policy Adviser to Philanthropy Australia (KS)

​Earlier this year saw the conclusion of an Australian-first pilot examining the potential benefits of giving circles in a workplace context. Showing some very promising results the pilot identified a new opportunity to grow giving within the workplace, providing benefits for employees, employers and charities.

A form of collective giving, giving circles enable donors to pool their resources, most often financial contributions, and collectively decide which organisations will receive funds.  Giving circles are donor initiated and usually have an educational or community building component to the activity.

What did the Giving Circles at Work Pilot Involve?

The ‘Giving Circles at Work’ pilot was led by Good2Give, a not-for-profit providing innovative technology solutions to help businesses, donors and charities connect, as part of their Workplace Giving Platform.  The model was developed and trialled within a large Australian corporate employer, an existing Good2Give Workplace Giving client, with funding provided by the Australian Government’s Department of Social Services.

The giving circles were focused either on a particular cause area or a specific charity.  A total of 67 employees participated in the pilot, with each giving circle having from 5 to 16 members.

With employee donations matched by their employer, the total amount raised by the giving circles was $45,328. Nine charities received grants, ranging in size from $500 (for a runner up grant) to $11,538, and with the median grant being $5,180.

Giving Circles at Work Pilot Evaluation Showed Tangible Benefits

A comprehensive evaluation of the pilot was undertaken, led by Krystian Seibert in his capacity as an industry fellow at the Centre for Social Impact at Swinburne University of Technology (Krystian is also a policy adviser to Philanthropy Australia). The evaluation included surveys of participants conducted before and after the pilot, as well as interviews conducted after the pilot.

There was a strong level of satisfaction amongst participants, who found the experience positive. In addition, there were encouraging findings that indicated participating in a giving circle in the workplace may have a positive impact on employee giving.

Overall, the evaluation concluded that there is a compelling case for giving circles to be implemented more widely in the workplace, reporting clear and tangible benefits for employees, employers and charities.

Benefits to employees included feeling that their work environment enables them to make a positive contribution to the community, the ability to develop enhanced relationships with work colleagues, as well as developing a better understanding of charities and feeling that their giving is making a difference. Some employees also noted the ability to develop skills as a benefit.

The evaluation results are similarly advantageous for employers.  If employees feel more satisfied, engaged and motivated, there are material benefits for employers in terms of productivity and employee satisfaction. Employers also benefit by being able to advance their corporate social responsibility activities within the community through Giving Circles at Work.

The recipient charities not only gain much needed financial support, but their relationships with corporate partners and staff are also strengthened, in addition to raising awareness about their work.

The evaluation identified a number of ways that the Giving Circles at Work model could be enhanced, and the focus is now turning to use the positive results from the pilot and the learnings identified to expand the model into other workplaces.

Scaling the Giving Circles at Work Model

In light of these positive results, Good2Give is looking for partners who would be interested in supporting the expansion of the model into further workplaces.

With 2020 proving an unusual year for employers, employees and charities alike, the principle of collective giving is well placed to provide a unifying employee experience in a work-from-home environment. Many employees want opportunities to make a broader contribution as part of their work, meeting new people, learning different skills and helping make a difference. Employers want to provide new engagement opportunities for their employees and explore innovative ways they can fulfil their corporate social responsibility and support the community. Charities are under increased pressure, meaning the opportunity to find new ways to develop partnerships that can help them raise awareness and support for their important work is welcomed.

This evaluation provides an evidence base that shows how the Giving Circles at Work model can make a positive impact responding to these needs, providing a strong foundation for scaling the model.

More information about the Giving Circles at Work pilot is available here. And the full report of the pilot’s evaluation is available here.

Lisa Grinham is the CEO of Good2Give

Krystian Seibert is an Industry Fellow at the Centre for Social Impact at Swinburne University and a Policy Adviser to Philanthropy Australia.

Sep. 30, 2020

Philanthropy Weekly Newsletter

Sign up to our weekly e-newsletter for sector news, expert opinion and resources.

Sign up here