A leading asset finance broker and principal of Astute Ability Finance Group is set to launch a new corporate social responsibility tool that helps businesses manage, track and measure their charitable initiatives.
Mhairi MacLeod, the founder and principal of Astute Ability Finance Group, has partnered with online philanthropy management platform Benojo to develop an online tool to help those in the financial services industry track and measure their corporate social responsibility (CSR) and charitable endeavours.
The cloud-based platform, The Giving Forecast, will provide users with the ability to embed the tool into their website and keep a running total of hours and dollars that the broker community has spent “giving back” and its social impact.
As well as helping users manage their CSR programs and their impact, The Giving Forecast will also enable users to access a range of tools and best practice frameworks to help them build and develop their programs, and share their own programs with other participants and the charities they support.
In some cases, these programs may be able to attract state and federal government funding.
The platform will also connect businesses with more than 8,500 available charities using The Giving Forecast ecosystem and enable them to offer support to their local, regional and national initiatives, whether in the form of time or money.
Ms MacLeod said she aims to make The Giving Forecast a free service for participating broking businesses and is seeking major corporate sponsorship for the platform’s pilot program, set to launch next year.
According to Ms MacLeod, the financial services industry needs to better track its CSR work to “address the shifting landscape” following the banking royal commission and scandals such as breaches of anti-money laundering regulation.
She added that the industry should “embrace corporate social responsibility in order to ensure its future”.
Ms MacLeod commented: “Everyone, right now, finds themselves needing to be more responsible. The results of the royal commission mean we’re, first and foremost, looking for good customer outcomes, and we have to start looking at corporate social responsibility on all levels.
“The Giving Forecast will resolve the current fragmentation issues the financial services sector faces as a result of each organisation using various technology sources. It will also provide an effective collaboration vehicle and a method for participants to learn and develop from each other’s strategies and activities.”
Benojo CEO Pascal Adolphe noted that Ms MacLeod was “passionate about CSR”, highlighting her work “giving back to the community” through the School Entrepreneurs Program that she helped develop in conjunction with the Mortgage & Finance Association of Australia.
He added: “Mhairi wanted a digital CSR program, which include[d] reference to gender diversity, tailored to the finance broker industry.”
Adding that the platform acted as “a place where people connect and keep up to date with all the changes being made in the charity world, on a single platform”, Mr Adolphe continued: “It’s a working solution for a big problem and can help normalise giving. It allows the industry to capture everything that’s been done for good.”
Hannah Rose, a partner at Sparke Helmore Lawyers — who advised on the establishment of The Giving Forecast — welcomed the launch of the platform, stating: “It is important for businesses, including those in the financial services sector, to demonstrate socially responsible behaviour and to positively contribute to the community.
“We’re excited to be helping to establish The Giving Forecast, which aims to assist the sector by providing education on best practice CSR and a technology platform to manage their activities.”
Ms MacLeod concluded: “Businesses can aggregate the support they can offer with their employees and even encourage their customers, lenders, peers, friends and family members to join in…
“It’s a tremendous opportunity to share outcomes and stories and encourage others to do the same.”
Annie Kane is the editor of The Adviser and Mortgage Business.
As well as writing about the Australian broking industry, the mortgage market, financial regulation, fintechs and the wider lending landscape – Annie is also the host of the Elite Broker and In Focus podcasts and The Adviser Live webcasts.
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