Leading organisations the world over are very aware of the power of a good Environmental, Social and Corporate Governance (ESG) Program. The data to support its efficacy is compelling, yet its broader adoption is disparate. One might argue this relates to varied interpretations of strategy and value, but I think it comes down to a lack of understanding as to the importance of giving.
Putting aside the fact we are hard-wired to connect with others and science shows the brain releases endorphins that make us feel good when we do good, the catharses of giving serves both a primal and corporate need. In fact it’s the foundation of socioeconomic relationships. The notion of reciprocity is the catalyst for democracy, for family and for commerce.
Organisations that are able to tap into that outperform others that don’t.
Organisations that are able to trade on the idea of giving, are those that establish legacy.
You may know that St John Ambulance WA has a history steeped in over 130 years of giving. Established in Western Australia in 1891, to this day it benefits from volunteers giving of their time to help their community. To put that in context, Western Australia’s oldest company is Sadleirs which was established in 1829. Most companies don’t live beyond 35 years.
There is more than one commonality with both organisations and it’s no coincidence they share a core word in their values, at its heart again synonymous with giving – ‘service’.
What it means to serve humanity
Last month St John launched a new brand, St John Giving, to encapsulate its purpose more keenly, not just as a statement of its work, but as an invitation to those in community who have been touched by its service to write their names onto its legacy by contributing to its sustainability. After all, St John is a charity. As a not-for-profit organisation any surplus it makes is committed to community and many of its programs are run for free.
Take First Aid Training in schools for example. Last year, St John trained 192,000 students with these life saving skills for free. This is the bedrock of Western Australia’s first responder network. The cost was covered by gifts from community and surplus from St John’s commercial businesses. But 90% of students in Western Australia currently miss out on our First Aid training in schools. It’s why we have a simple ask of our business community today. To ensure equity of this service for the rest of Western Australia’s youth, depends on you helping us raise $2M. That’s what it will take to close this resilience gap.
So the question is, how much can you afford to give? Or better still, can you afford not to?
For us at St John, this is how we go from simply being a community, to doing community.