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The Zone: Franck Demoiseau

Entrepreneur and founder of Givematcher joins Michael Short in the Zone.

PT0M0S 620 349

[WHO]  Franck Demoiseau, former leading banker revolutionising charity fund-raising.
[WHAT] Decrease costs and increase benefits for donors, charities and companies.
[HOW] An online system that allows companies to match private donations.

It is pretty easy to identify life's turning points in hindsight. Some are serendipitous. Some are catastrophic. Some might be epiphanous; god moments when one can almost grasp perfection and universality. Many just happen to us - there was no way to see them coming.

It can be far harder to perceive turning points before they arrive. These are the ones not delivered by fate or butterfly wings. These are the ones we help create for ourselves by embracing opportunity, by being open to ideas and then by actually engineering change. These are the ones that often require courage and determination and risk.

Franck Demoiseau has developed a website for people who donate to charities to connect with companies that will match their donation.

Franck Demoiseau has developed a website for people who donate to charities to connect with companies that will match their donation. Photo: Michael Clayton-Jones

Today's guest in The Zone has generated such a turning point, one that has not only finally given the former high-flying banking executive a sense of purpose, but one with the potential to benefit people across the world by revolutionising the funding of organisations that are driven by a social mission rather than profit maximisation.

Franck Demoiseau was literally flying high back in 2008 - on a business trip from Mumbai to Singapore - when he decided he needed to create a turning point. It would be five years before he actually did it, but that moment in the sky changed his life.

''I realised that I had not done anything with my ideas. I had a lot of good ideas and I had done nothing with them. And when I walked off the plane I made a promise to myself that I would start to write down my ideas and I would not let them go to waste.''

He did start writing them down - in a book that remains a work in progress. Then he worked out which idea best fitted his skills and provided the best chance of allowing him to make a positive difference in the world.

And so Givematcher was born three months ago. .

''I stumbled upon a really simple way for donors, companies and charities to help each other using a new concept - open matched giving.

''Givematcher is a website that allows the donor to select a charity that they want to donate to and it will then propose a list of participating socially minded companies that will match the donation. So by donating in this way on Givematcher you are ensuring that the charity ends up with more than just your donation.''

Demoiseau sees it as a win-win-win: charities get more funding; donors double their impact; companies and philanthropists amplify the benefit of the aid they give to the communities from which, after all, they derive profits. It is a way for companies to embrace enlightened self-interest - there can be no prosperous high streets unless there are healthy backstreets.

He argues that Givematcher will help companies demonstrate to their investors the value of giving funds to organisations with a social mission.

''Companies are thinking about maximising shareholder return. They need to think about strengthening their brand. A lot of companies have been struggling with how philanthropy achieves that, if at all, and whether that can be measured.

''I was noticing that donations from companies to charities were trending down. So there was that effect, and then the GFC came in and a lot of companies started slashing budgets as this was unfortunately an easy thing to do.

''But companies absolutely have a responsibility towards the community. I saw an opportunity to help the companies to better justify their philanthropic spend. That was at the inception of the very concept of Givematcher, because matching donations of people that you may or may not have a relationship with, and with whom you would like to have a relationship with, is a really, really good way, and a humble way, for a company to support the community.''

Charities and not-for-profit organisations have been struggling financially since the 2007-08 global financial crisis. In Australia, it has been a shock for a sector that had for the decade until 2007 been expanding by about 5 per cent a year, giving it the fastest growth rate of any sector other than mining.

By the time he quit the corporate world, Demoiseau had become chief operating officer in Australia and New Zealand of BNP Paribas, one of the world's largest financial institutions.

''I had a very good position that was challenging me intellectually. It is a great company to work for. What it was lacking was, for me, purpose.''

A video statement by Demoiseau and the full transcript of our discussion can be found at theage.com.au/federal-politics/the-zone. He will be online for an hour from midday to respond to questions and comments, which can be submitted from this morning.

In his corporate role, Demoiseau had long been observing companies respond to the financial fear and loathing of the GFC by crimping their contribution to the community.

At the same time, he was aware that traditional methods of fund-raising were costly to the point of wasteful. He knew, too, that many donors - individuals, philanthropic trusts and others - were also enduring financial difficulties and were keen to know their money was being spent effectively, rather than absorbed by administration.

So far, more than 100 charities have signed up. There is no charge to them. ''The charities have responded extremely well because they can see that this is a fantastic way for them to get new donors, and also to use the matching component to drive more donations.''

The next step for Demoiseau is to get companies involved - there are about 10 on board so far. They can set it up on the website in as little as 10 minutes, also at no cost.

Givematcher will generate revenue by taking 7.5 per cent of the donation, which means that the fund-raising cost falls to less than 4 per cent when the matching by companies and/or philanthropists is taken into account.

''Online is a much better way for charities to fund-raise and for the Australian public and for companies to support charities. Look at some of the ways charities today are using to fund-raise: they are using face-to-face, people in the street, or they are calling people at home, or they are using direct mail.

''They are very expensive ways of fund-raising, where the cost overheads can be as much as 30 per cent to 50 per cent. And that worries a lot of Australian donors who want to ensure that as much of their donations as possible end up with the cause itself. So by donating online, the Australian public is assured that more money is going to the cause itself.''

Givematcher has the potential, too, to expand workplace giving - where employees' donations to charities and not-for-profit groups are deducted from their salaries. As this usually requires an automated payroll system, it means workplace giving tends to be limited to larger companies.

By using Givematcher, not only can employees from firms large and small set up regular donations, their contributions can continue when they change employers.

''Our concept of online, open matched giving goes well beyond staff being matched by their company, and it is this distinguishing factor which makes Givematcher unique in the world right now.

''Companies have relationships with many more people than just their staff, and it is these other essential relationships that matched giving by companies had largely ignored. Givematcher changes this by allowing companies to match the donations of their customers, their potential customers as well as their staff. Most donors in Australia have never had the opportunity to have their donation matched.''

Demoiseau, who comes from France and was based in Singapore before moving to Sydney, believes Givematcher has the potential to work throughout the world. But if his fledgling social venture is to succeed in Australia, let alone internationally, he needs help from many people. In particular, he needs employees to encourage their bosses to sign their company on as matchers.

The amount companies budget as matchers is not revealed unless they choose to make it public, and they have control over which organisations they support.

Demoiseau says the hardest thing he ever did was getting to the point where he felt ready to take the risk of starting Givematcher.

''Fear is a key barrier. We tend to be fearful of things and we worry about change, and making a difference involves changing rules and our own mind gets in the way and we start to worry about things like mortgages and paying bills and keeping safe. And we tend to downplay our capabilities. Lack of self-esteem is a massive barrier. And so it is important to build self-esteem.

''Finding our purpose takes time. We need to do some soul-searching and look at what is important to us. For me, purpose means finding the one thing that we're on this planet to do. And for me that means making a difference in this world.''

LINK:

www.givematcher.com.au

20 comments so far

  • You talk about the barriers to making such a change in one's life, including financial concerns. You had, until a few months ago, what presumably would have been a very high paying job. How much of a risk are you really taking? Surely, you and your family have long been financially secure. This is a reflection, not a criticism. Can you talk more about making change in your life?

    Commenter
    EdiS
    Date and time
    June 16, 2014, 10:42AM
    • Hi EdiS
      Thanks for your comment. Obviously, I have thought about the risk I am prepared to accept and have prepared myself for this. We do have a large mortgage to pay off and two children in primary school and now no income, but yes, I consider that we are in a financial position that allows us to do this, and this was clearly a big part the decision making process.
      You also asked me to talk more about making a change in my life. For me, aside from the financial aspect, this change gives me the ability to do something that brings me passion, has a purpose and can achieve something transformational for charities, companies and ultimately those in need and this is very important for me. I just ask myself how many times in one's life does one have a real opportunity to make a real difference?
      Thanks,
      Franck

      Commenter
      Franck
      Date and time
      June 16, 2014, 12:00PM
  • Why are companies choosing to become matchers on Givematcher? What’s in it for them?

    Commenter
    Nina
    Date and time
    June 16, 2014, 11:09AM
    • Hi Nina,
      Thanks for your question. Firstly, there are many ethical and socially responsible companies out there, so it should not be a surprise that companies are looking to support the community. By becoming matchers on Givematcher, companies are allowing the charity to use their pledge to match donations to attract donations from individuals, which is a tremendous help for charities. Furthermore, supporting charities in this way is more visible, which raises brand awareness, showcases companies’ social responsibility, attracts new customers and deepens customer and staff loyalty. Many companies also like the thought of matching the donations of their customers, their potential customers, their staff, etc., and they offer this option to them, which brings the charities new donors. So companies know that they are supporting charities in the best possible way and they get good benefits.
      Thanks,
      Franck

      Commenter
      Franck
      Date and time
      June 16, 2014, 12:07PM
  • Some charities I am looking to support are not yet on Givematcher. What are my options?

    Commenter
    Andrea
    Date and time
    June 16, 2014, 11:40AM
    • Hi Andrea,
      Thanks for your question. Just send us an email at info@givematcher.com.au letting us know the charity you would like to be able to support using Givematcher, and we’ll contact them to bring them on board.
      Thanks,
      Franck

      Commenter
      Franck
      Date and time
      June 16, 2014, 12:13PM
  • I am a decision maker in a company. How much does your service cost and how much effort is required?

    Commenter
    Henry
    Date and time
    June 16, 2014, 11:49AM
    • Hi Henry,
      The service is free for matchers. The time commitment required is absolutely minimal: 10-15 minutes to sign up, and another 5-10 minutes to set a budget and select charities to support. After this, everything is taken care of by the website.
      Thanks,
      Franck

      Commenter
      Franck
      Date and time
      June 16, 2014, 12:20PM
  • I can see how Givematcher can be particular interesting for big companies like Telstra, Westpac, Qantas or even BHP, or even midsize companies. They can afford it. But can small companies afford this?

    Commenter
    Henry
    Date and time
    June 16, 2014, 12:23PM
    • Hi Henry,
      Thanks for your question. If you look at the companies we have on board you will see that some are small companies that are looking to make a difference to the community. Companies can allocate a reasonable budget they are comfortable with and once this budget is reached, they are not offered to donors as a matcher (although everyone still sees on their Givematcher page which charities they support). So, this does not require a big budget, and we remain completely discreet about the extent of companies’ financial support. It is true that the big end of town can really benefit from showcasing its social responsibility and building loyalty with its existing and potential customers. But, if we ask the question in a slightly different way, in this day and age, can any company large or small afford not to be visible in helping the community? Customers, potential customers, staff and the public are unforgiving critics when it comes to this. It is well known and accepted that people (and especially Gen Y) will switch to brands that are visibly more socially-minded. Increasingly, companies are doing well by doing good and there is a fantastic win-win opportunity for companies of all sizes to help the community while creating shareholder value. Givematcher has an important role to play in this.
      Thanks,
      Franck

      Commenter
      Franck
      Date and time
      June 16, 2014, 12:31PM

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