b'COMMUNITY| LEGAL SECTOR| 2021SUSTAINABILITY INSIGHTCHARITABLE GIVING2021 AusLSA Member Performance2021 has been a difficult period for many law firms to deliver their normal giving programs. The ability to engage with staff who maybe under personal and professional stress while also managing significant operational disruption has been difficult. Also, the capacity to deliver firms planned programs, which are often designed around a physical presence in the workplace, has also greatly reduced. But members commitment to giving hasnt reduced. Ninety-two percent of AusLSAs reporting members have formal charitable giving programs in place which are made up of corporate and workplace giving. All these members made donations through their business or related trusts.Seventy-four percent operated a formal workplace giving program for staff, matching the payroll donations made by their employees. The continuation of these programs underlines the importance of regularised matched workplace giving as a resilient and substantive way for firms and their employees to give.This year the number of firms who collected information about the participation of their employees in charitable giving programs decreased from forty-one percent to twenty-six percent with a further twenty-nine percent reporting that they were developing new processes to collect this information. This was a result of difficulties engaging with staff during office lockdowns as well as time constraints. The average participation rates recorded by those participating firms reduced from thirty-one percent last year to twenty-eight percent this year which also reflects the ability of many firms to run programs during the COVID office shutdowns. The growth of members participation in a range of other giving related programs flattened this year after trending up for the last three years. Firms that have formal foundation-type structures or separate entities to plan and administer their charitable giving was stable at thirty-four percent. Seventy-one percent of firms regularly undertook internal charity appeals and events compared with seventy-five percent last year. Firms also reported participating in giving drives such as the provision of books, food and Christmas gifts. Challenges and Opportunities The needs of charitable organisations are likely to be higher in the next five years than at any other time in the last fifty years. At the same time the challenges and uncertainty for law firms and their employees could impact their ability to provide, maintain or increase levels of financial support.An increased focus on impact, strategy, and evaluation is needed if these donations and broader philanthropic supports are to meet the greatest social and environmental change. This can only be achieved when the partnerships between funders and charities are substantive, well thought out and enduring. This is a commitment not just from charities, but also to funders who need to develop in- depth understandings of the issues that are funding and be willing to build the capacity of the charity to deliver their services in the most strategic ways. It involves funders of charities sharing in planning and building programs alongside charities and investing in defined outcomes rather than buying whatever outputs may be offered. There is undoubtedly a funding crunch for charities where the urgency and demand for their services is growing more quickly than Australias philanthropic communitys capacity to resource them.One way to increase the levels of benefit provided by services faster than available funding is to provide better connections between resources and outcomes. Leading law firms and Australian businesses increasingly integrate their charitable giving programs with their core business strategies and delivery. This model combines management support, giving, pro bono and ties their investment and outcomes into the achievement of their broader business purpose. This approach leads to greater and longer-term commitments to support charities addressing the longer-term issues of both bushfire and COVID recovery. There are more charitable giving programs that would benefit from this broader type of strategic partnership however to establish these types of partnerships takes time and work. Firms need to search for and develop relationships with willing organisations and develop agreed commitments and objectives. This will allow them to build partnerships that take full advantage of their special skills and resources. There is significant potential to increase participation in Payroll Giving. In Australia, the 6,590 employers who offer payroll giving employ almost four million workers. However, only 211,316 workers are currently donating which means that almost ninety-five percent of these employees are not donating. There are many variables that influence a workplace-giving programs success. In addition to matched donations from payroll giving employers can lead by providing employees with compelling charities and clearly communicating the needs for and benefits of being a donor. Workplace Giving Australia provides an extensive range of supporting materials and campaigns that support organisations grow their giving programs. The One Million Donors platform provides a range of specific workplace giving toolkits, resources and a recognition.58'