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Telecom hits $1 million payroll giving mark

4 February 2013
Telecom hits $1 million payroll giving mark

The Telecom Foundation is today celebrating its ‘universal’ payroll giving programme, having reached the milestone of $1 million donated to New Zealand charities, schools and community groups.

1 million dollar announcement_Tawa College Principal Murray Lucas and Hon Peter Dunne MP. Photo credit: Getty Images/Marty Melville

The Telecom programme, along with the Telecom Foundation itself, was launched 18 months ago by Prime Minister John Key and Revenue Minister Peter Dunne amid fanfare around the new style of corporate philanthropy it represented.

Employees who donate via payroll giving receive an immediate PAYE credit of 33% of the donation amount to any of the 25,000 donee organisations approved by IRD. The employer administers all aspects of the donation, tax credit and liaison with the IRD – eliminating the need for the employee to apply for a tax credit at the end of the year.

And employees’ payroll giving donations are matched by Telecom, up to an annual cap of $1,000 per employee.

For example, if a Telecom employee donates $30 to a charity through payroll giving, they will only notice $20 difference in their pay and the charity receives a total of $60 - $30 from the employee plus an extra $30 from Telecom.

Over 21 per cent of Telecom employees have used payroll giving to support around 500 donee organisations. Schools have proved a popular choice, with more than 323 New Zealand schools benefiting to the tune of $400,000 so far.

Payroll giving, popular in Australia, the UK and Canada, is still relatively new to New Zealand, however since the scheme was introduced by the Government in January 2010 over $8.9 million has been donated to community organisations.

It is gaining momentum; in November 2012 alone 3,539 employees working for 767 employers donated just under $395,000 to New Zealand community organisations.

In contrast to ‘focused’ payroll giving programmes, where employers pre-select a limited number of charity partners, the Telecom Foundation opted to administer a ‘universal’ programme with Telecom employees able to choose between any of the 25,000 eligible organisations.

Matching is known internationally to be the single biggest factor encouraging employees’ uptake of payroll giving and when the Telecom Foundation’s programme was launched, the Company set aside a $1 million matching fund.

In 2011 the Telecom Foundation was a member of an early adopters group Chaired by Retirement Commissioner Diana Crossan, tasked with proving the value payroll giving has to other New Zealand businesses.

The Foundation also acknowledges support from the Tindall Foundation in establishing its programme and has made a commitment to share information with other New Zealand organisations wanting to offer universal payroll giving to their employees.

Sir Bob Harvey, Chair of the Telecom Foundation Board, says:

“We’ve been astounded at how, with a bit of encouragement, Telecom people have utterly embraced payroll giving and turned this into a million dollar programme – we’re very proud of them.”

“From the start, we’ve been totally open about which organisations people can give to and their enthusiasm to support charities, schools and causes in their community is already there – we’ve just plugged into that and allowed them to channel some extra resources into their favourite community causes.”

“We’re also very pleased to be leading other New Zealand businesses interested in offering universal payroll giving to their employees now that we’ve established the pathway – and we’re very interested in sharing information for the benefit of the community sector.”

President of the New Zealand Principals’ Federation, Philip Harding, congratulated Telecom on reaching its $1million target saying:

“This Telecom initiative helps hundreds and ultimately thousands of schools throughout New Zealand to provide children with the extra-curricular experiences that are so critical for young Kiwi kids to become caring and contributing citizens in a multi-cultural global community.”

David Pearce, Chief Executive for CanTeen, a New Zealand charity supporting young people aged 13 to 24 living with cancer as a patient, sibling and bereaved sibling, says Telecom's universal payroll giving programme allowing staff to donate a portion of their pay to any New Zealand charity is quite phenomenal because they choose where their money goes.

"Money from the payroll giving scheme goes towards developing support services which enable our young people to thrive beyond and after their cancer journey, so thank you very much for choosing to donate to CanTeen."

Ryan Castle, an Account Director at Telecom, has been supporting CanTeen through payroll giving since the programme was launched in May 2011 and says the reasons for doing so are self-evident.

“The matching is definitely a deciding factor,” he says. “I don’t know of any other way I could double my impact.”

“The ease of setting up a donation was another thing.”

“It seemed like an easy way to select and support my favourite charity – it’s completely ‘set and forget’ and in the scheme of things, it doesn’t seem like a big amount of money.”



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