From today Telecom will march to the beat of its own charitable drum as it celebrates the launch of the newly formed Telecom Foundation.
Welcomed by a drumming fanfare performed by children of Telecom staff, the Prime Minister, Rt Hon John Key, officially launched the Foundation in the atrium of Telecom Place in Auckland today, before a crowd of staff, their children and special guests.
The Telecom Foundation - the umbrella organisation for all Telecom's charitable and community based initiatives - has two key drivers: encouraging generosity and building a better future for Kiwi kids. It is a new way of looking at philanthropy, which harnesses Telecom's resources to effect genuine change in the community.
One way the Foundation will draw on the energy and commitment of its own people and challenge conventional ideas about corporate giving is to encourage payroll giving, which enables staff to donate to any registered charity or school of their own choice. Telecom has kick-started this effort by immediately providing $1million dollars with which it will match payroll donations, up to $1,000 per employee.
Today's launch ceremony included a presentation by 11-year-old Lachlan Snodgrass. Lachlan is a representative of the Kids Council, established to advise the Foundation about what really matters to young people, and how it can best achieve its goal to "build a better future for Kiwi kids".
"Lots of the kids you can see here today are members of the Council. We met in Auckland last week and others met in Hamilton, Wellington and Christchurch to workshop our thoughts on what matters to us," said Lachlan.
"Kids think it's important to be listened to by other people. It's not only the grownups who are smart. We can be just as smart or even smarter."
The Telecom Foundation, chaired by Bob Harvey, will be guided by a group of respected external trustees: Sir Wira Gardiner; former Children's Commissioner John Angus; and Nathalie Whitaker, founder of a company that links givers and causes through the innovative use of software, social media and expertise.
"Rather than simply donating money to charities or causes, we'll identify issues and then find the best way to solve them. It's called catalytic philanthropy, and it's a smarter way of corporate giving," says Mr Harvey.
The Foundation board also includes Telecom trustees Tina Symmans, Director Corporate Relations; Ben Richmond, Telecom People's Champion (elected by staff); Trish Keith, a Christchurch-based GM; and John van Woerkom, Group Financial Controller.
"Telecom is encouraging everyone to become philanthropists in their own right," says Tina Symmans, Trustee and Director Corporate Relations.
"The Foundation will inspire and encourage generosity through three key initiatives, or pillars of generosity - payroll giving, volunteering and catalytic philanthropy.
"Telecom staff can start donating and organising their annual volunteer day from today. Staff already on the boards of charities are also able to apply for a $1,000 leadership grant."
The next step for the Foundation is to analyse input from the Kids Council meetings and identify projects that will form the basis of the catalytic philanthropy initiatives led by Programme Director, Gael Surgenor. The Foundation aims to launch the first catalytic philanthropy project early in the new year.
For more information on the Telecom Foundation, including payroll giving, staff volunteering and catalytic philanthropy, visit www.telecomfoundation.org.nz.
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