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One percent might seem like an insignificant amount. But when one percent equals 330 hours of volunteer’s time just last year alone, as well as more than 46,000 square meters of space and $600,000 of donations, one percent adds up to a lot of good.
Our people, places, partnerships and profits
When Charter Hall adopted the Pledge 1% philanthropic movement in 2017, we joined a list of awe-inspiring companies like Atlassian, Salesforce, Rally for Impact and Tides. This makes us the first Australian property company to be involved with the corporate social responsibility movement.
“It’s a great way to demonstrate the impact that we can create from our investment back into the community’s we operate in,” says Margot Black, our Head of Sustainability and Community.
“Our Pledge commitment is to work with our partners and donate one percent of our people’s time, one percent of spaces within our buildings for community organisations and activities, and the other part of our commitment is to pledge a percentage of our profits.”
At Charter Hall, our people are encouraged to volunteer two days per year within a charity or community project. Last year alone, saw 81 percent of Charter Hall people donate their time to the tune of 330 volunteer days.
People often work as teams, but individuals are encouraged to donate their time to matters close to their hearts. Animal welfare, homelessness, autism or domestic violence are some of the important causes where our people are putting in their time. Last year a team of 23 people raised money for breast cancer research with various fundraising activities, culminating in a sponsored bridge climb. Teams of people also regularly give blood together to the Red Cross.
And while many of these initiatives are employee-led, Charter Hall commits not only the time for these activities to take place, but also matches the fundraising efforts.
But the idea of corporate giving doesn’t stop there.
An astonishing $1.3 million, which equates to 46,054 square metres of space was offered on a short-term basis to community enterprises and organisations throughout Australia. With an emphasis on activating long-term vacancies or underutilised spaces, this one per cent donation of our spaces meant that local community enterprises were able to provide our customers with services and innovative programs.
The newly renovated office building at 65 Berry Street, Sydney is the epitome of this ideal. Rather than unused space, the ground floor of this building instead houses a cutting edge yoga and wellness area, a not-for-profit cafe, an events auditorium and a dynamic artists’ studio and gallery.
Image: 65 Berry Street, Sydney
“We wanted to tie it to things that we actually do, as a property company. Our products are our buildings and our places so we wanted it to be meaningful for our people but also the communities in which we operate. Our buildings are part of the community so we wanted to ensure that we can give back where we can - not just with our time, but also physically within our buildings,” says Margot.
Partnerships aligned with Charter Hall through the philanthropic corporate giving program are varied. The Charter Hall Community Investment Fund backs up the time and spaces donated with hard dollars. In 2018, $600,000 was donated to community partnerships across a diverse range of groups and services.
These partnerships range from employment projects in our offices, to construction projects, to a social enterprise cafe, to retail space where community organisations can wrap Christmas presents or even process local soccer club registrations.
Margot’s focus is firmly on enhancing the local community. As part of her role, Margot helps social enterprises within Charter Hall’s portfolio expand their footprints by bringing those services to our people and places, further strengthening the community.
“We participate in programs and activities and services where we can touch and feel the impact we’re making. So we don’t just give money. We actually donate money and then also physically get involved either volunteering or mentoring or doing a whole range of other activities where we can see the impact we’re making and the difference we’re creating.”
With her hands on involvement, Margot is in the unique position to see the positive, practical effects this community investment has on employees and local groups too.
“We want to create meaningful places for our tenants and our people to work. What is even more heartening is how much the Pledge 1% has quickly become ingrained within Charter Hall’s corporate culture. The first year, 32 percent of Charter Hall’s people engaged with the program. The following year, it spiked at a massive 81 per cent and Margot has high hopes for what 2019 will bring.
“Every year we make it stronger and more impactful as we learn new things we can do. Our people are starting to get more hands on and participate in a lot more activities and initiatives.”
How Benojo gives real impact
Managing a large workforce’s volunteering hours and fundraising activities could be a lot of work without the help of some unique technology. The recent introduction of the Benojo platform is used to set up our giving and volunteering activities and events. It allows our people to sign up and volunteer, and all registrations are seamlessly logged online.
“The beauty for Charter Hall is not only can we track the days that our people have volunteered but who they’ve worked with and the impact they’ve made. We can see what people are really passionate about,” explains Margot.
It allows teams to coordinate their efforts, such as working together in the Two Good kitchen on a particular day, helping out at Wesley Mission with the homeless or working together at the RSPCA. This platform sends out reminders leading up to the event, as well as all the important particulars of each event.
Benojo can also be used to fundraise for a charity of choice. And its usefulness isn’t limited to our people. It’s also available to the wider community too, meaning that fundraising efforts can be extended to family and friends too.
We used the Benojo platform for a national employee fundraiser, to raise money for Rural Aid programs that support communities experiencing drought. Some customers in our retail centres also made use of the platform to donate to Rural Aid.
But its most important function is really to connect Charter Hall people across all corners of the country.It works like a Linkedin profile for social good, not just for you professional good.”