Thursday, November 25, 2010

Aussie workers show corporates the meaning of charity

THEY have enjoyed record profits in excess of $78 billion, but Australia's 20 biggest companies are still three times less generous than the average Australian. 

The nation's leading companies have been found desperately wanting in the generosity stakes, donating only 0.85 per cent of their profits to the community last financial year, well short of the benchmark of 1 per cent that social experts deem adequate.

Multinationals gave about $680 million in cash, product and time, community investment initiatives and by matching employee donations in 2009-10.

When calculated against total revenues, that figure represented just 0.23 per cent, a less than charitable spend when compared with the average Australian, who last year gave $440 of tax deductible donations, equal to 0.74 per cent of the average wage.

The corporate donation figures are even starker when it is considered a significant chunk of the giving includes money that employees raised and donated to charity and revenue that companies have foregone to provide cheaper products and services to low-income earners.

Having leapt aboard the excessive rate hike bandwagon earlier this month, the figures reveal the ANZ Bank is the leading scrooge.

It only donated $16.5 million from its bumper $6.6 billion pre-tax profit, a mere 0.21 per cent.
However, unlike its banking rivals, the bank maintains it does not include any "foregone revenue'' in donations to charity figures.

Oil giant Woodside was only marginally better with a donation rate of 0.31 per cent, giving $9.2 million from its pre-tax windfall of $2.9 billion.

Telstra was also caught short, having donated $30.8 million in the last financial year, equating to 0.46 per cent of its $6.66 billion profit, while the Commonwealth Bank, QBE Insurance and Brambles refused to release dollar details of their giving.

But the corporate rap sheet did not reflect poorly on all major companies.

Biopharmaceutical company CSL gave 1.9 per cent of its $1.3 billion profit, giving $26 million to research.
"We try to give in ways that make the most of our capabilities and in areas where we have expertise,'' a CSL spokeswoman said.

Renowned giver Macquarie Group also passed the test with $26 million worth of donations and community investment, although $6.8 million of that was money raised by its employees.

Wesfarmers won the battle of the retailers, giving $45.7 million (1.57 per cent).

Investment analyst Michael Walsh, of Hunter Hall Ethical Funds, said companies should be aiming to give at least 1 per cent of their pre-tax profits.

How our our top 20 companies make $780b a year

... and give less than 1% to charity

Top five givers
1. CSL - $26 million (1.9 per cent of profit, 0.56 per cent of revenue)
2. Macquarie Group - $26.6 million (1.75pc of profit, 0.39pc of revenue)
3. Wesfarmers - $45.8 million (1.57pc of profit, 0.08pc of revenue)
4. Woolworths - $36.3 million (1.20pc of profit, 0.06pc of revenue)
5. Westpac - $113 million (1.19pc of profit, 0.66pc of revenue)

Worst five givers
1. ANZ - $16.5 million (0.21pc of profit, 0.10pc of revenue)
2. AXA - $1.7 million (0.25pc of profit)
3. Woodside - $9.2 million (0.31pc of profit, 0.21pc of revenue)
4. Telstra - $30.8 million (0.46pc of profit, 0.12pc of revenue)
5. Suncorp - $6 million (0.50pc of profit, 0.03pc of revenue