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What would it take for you to give up your job? For Franck Demoiseau, it was about finding purpose in his life. About four months ago, Demoiseau was the chief operating officer of BNP Paribas, a French bank with a global presence. Now, the online charitable donation venue Givematcher he co-founded is in the second phase of its launch.
In this exclusive interview, Business Review Australia gets the inside look at this innovative venture, and delves into the importance of corporate social responsibility.
What led you to leave a C-level banking job to found Givematcher?
I had a need for more meaning and purpose, and had been thinking for a long time about becoming more involved with the for-purpose sector. I had thought about joining charity boards, or working for a charity, but decided that starting a social venture able to be relevant to the entire sector would allow me to maximise my social impact. The concept behind Givematcher struck a chord with me as I sensed it would make a massive difference to any charity by assisting them with a real area of need like their fundraising, which would then enable them to focus more on servicing their cause. Furthermore, the other stakeholders - companies and private donors - would also derive great benefits, increasing both the impact of Givematcher and its chance of success. Here was an idea that had the potential to do a lot of good, and I asked myself “how many times in one's life does one have an opportunity to make a real difference?”
What exactly is Givematcher, and how does it reward the different stakeholders?
Givematcher is a charity portal that is helping charities all over Australia raise more money more easily online, using a unique new concept we call Open Matched Giving (OMG): donors donate to a charity and their donation is matched by one of our socially minded participating companies (not necessarily their employer).
Charities get new donors, receive higher donations due to the matching and reduce their cost of fundraising. Companies are rewarded with cost-effective marketing and brand building, particularly when they opt to offer to match the donations of their existing customers, potential customers and staff. Companies are also delighted that their philanthropy budget is leveraged by donations from private donors, and consider that this is a much better way to provide financial support to their chosen causes and to increase their social impact. Donors, the third stakeholder, receive a heartfelt leveraging effect for their donation. The overwhelming majority of donors have never had this option and are enjoying this benefit for the very first time in their life.
What has the response been so far to this innovative charitable platform?
Being only three months old, this is still early days! We have had to follow a very specific implementation sequence, consisting of three phases: firstly, bring on board the charities, then the companies, and finally the public. The reaction from the charities has been stunning, with around 100 charities signing up in the first three months, including many of the major charities (Heart Foundation, Mission Australia, Salvation Army, St Vincent de Paul Society, The Leukaemia Foundation, Guide Dogs and many others). Charities love that this new channel is allowing them to gain new donors and raise more funds in the most cost-effective way. They are also delighted that they can go to companies and offer them new value in return for their financial support, by asking for matching donations instead of donations or grants.
We have just started the second phase and are meeting with companies. The early feedback is excellent. So far, 10 companies have joined and many more are in the pipeline. The marketing and social recognition benefits are strong drivers, as is the opportunity to leverage their social impact and to become even more helpful to the community. We have not yet contacted donors, as this will be the third phase, but in spite of this, we are already seeing exponential donation flows, as charities and companies are driving donors to our portal.
How do you see Givematcher growing and evolving in the future?
We shall quickly grow to hundreds of charities and companies, and likely beyond this, as the benefits to charities and companies are very compelling. Regarding donors, early signs are good, and we believe donations will continue their strong growth. It just makes good sense and we simply ask ourselves: why wouldn't everyone choose to donate this way? If anyone cares about a charity, they will want to ensure that more of their generous funds go to the cause itself, and they will want to be matched if this option is made available to them. What we really hope to be able to achieve is for this low-cost way of raising funds to replace some of the more expensive archaic ways such face-to-face (in the street), over the phone or direct mail, which can eat up as much as 30 to 50 percent of the funds, are quite intrusive, and in the end, are perhaps even counterproductive.
How important would you say it is for a company to get involved with a charity or charities? What are the benefits? Do you see any drawbacks for the company?
In my view, it is nothing short of necessary for any company to provide at least moderate financial support to charities. Yes, there are too many charities, and there are surely efficiencies to be had (one of these being with fundraising methods), but a great many charities are indispensable and faced with increasing demand for their vital services. Many receive little or no government funding, and hence rely on funding from companies (and individuals), so I believe there to be a moral obligation for companies to give back. Thankfully, many companies are already doing this.
It is also very important from a Corporate Social Responsibility standpoint to assist the communities within which companies are deriving profits. Consumers, staff and the public at large are unforgiving critics when it comes to this (particularly Gen Y’s), and it is well accepted that a company’s social responsibility and actual support for social causes are key deciding factors in brand selection, as well as essential factors in staff engagement and retention. Companies “do well by doing good” and it makes great business sense for companies to be visible in their support of charities. I don't see a lot of drawbacks. Compared with company revenues and overall costs, this is only a small cost. At the end of the day, we just need to remember that people are watching our companies, and they are busy judging.
What leadership advice would you give the current c-level executives of Australia?
Research clearly shows that companies that are doing social good are benefiting. It is not just simply something that makes company executives feel good about themselves. When done right, it is a powerful, proven way to drive more business and to build brand awareness and engagement. It drives consumers to select their brand, appeals to existing customers, builds staff engagement and helps attract and retain talent.
My leadership advice to our c-level executives is to take advantage of this tremendous win-win opportunity to help the community and create shareholder value. This can be done by directing more funds to support the community, or by using a platform like Givematcher to drive additional value and social good from your company’s existing philanthropy budget, or preferably both. You get to feel good about yourself as well!