Canberra charity boss Peter Gordon has called on developers and multinational IT firms to do more to help those in need in the national capital.
Mr Gordon said he believed some of the richest companies reaping profits from Canberra were not paying that money forward enough, if at all.
The chief executive officer of Hands Across Canberra, which works with more than 250 local community organisations, has made the call as the winter-long Canberra Recovery Appeal enters its final month, closing in on its goal of raising $400,000 for charities which could not do their usual fundraising due to last summer's bushfires and COVID-19.
Mr Gordon said that in his experience, the most charitable developers in the national capital were Terry Snow and the Hindmarsh Group, which had their own giving foundations, and the Village Building Company, which has plans to build a townhouse in Weston and give the profits to Hands Across Canberra.
"The development industry has some spectacular examples in terms of philanthropic contribution," Mr Gordon said.
By contrast, other developers, as well as IT multinationals, rarely if ever made a charitable contribution to Canberra.
"The IT industry is largely multinational and largely refuses to engage in local philanthropic conversations," he said.
"I've been to, I don't know, say 1000 charity events. I've never been to one sponsored by IBM. I think there should be some kind of correlation between how much you make in a community and how much you leave behind in a community."
He has singled out those industries because, public service aside, the biggest economic drivers in Canberra were building, construction and trades and information and communications technology.
He was not swayed by arguments multinationals might make generous contributions to national or international charities.
"That's marvellous. But that doesn't help the Canberra community where they've made some of their profit," he said.
"Canberra is a city of 400,000 people. If everyone does their bit proportionate to what they earn and where they sit in the community, we'd all be fine."
One of the board members of Hands Across Canberra is Greg Boorer, chief executive officer of CDC Data Centres and federal and ACT chair of the Australian Information Industry Association, which represents the IT sector.
Mr Boorer agreed with Mr Gordon that national and multinational IT companies should support Canberra charities, but believed it was more a case of them being made aware, rather than them being "mean-spirited".
He said most big IT companies would have a charity partner, but they were likely for national or international causes.
"It's a point well made by Peter - there's no reason why some of that goodwill could not be delivered locally as well," he said.
Mr Boorer said he had also made sure for every function held by the Australian Information Industry Association, a percentage of each registration or ticket went to Hands Across Canberra.
"So back when we could have events, every one was like a fundraising event for Hands Across Canberra," he said.
It gives away [basically] a million dollars a week in grants. A million dollars a week - how joyful would that be?Hands Across Canberra's Peter Gordon on the Calgary Foundation
Mr Gordon said the role of Hands Across Canberra was to help the national capital's most vulnerable while embedding a culture of giving to local charities, by both the corporate sector and individuals.
"We want to make giving locally normal. At the moment, it's not normal," he said.
"Canberrans are the most generous individuals in Australia per capita - $400 given per person, according to the Tax Office. Almost all that generosity leaves Canberra, it goes to national and multinational charities, which is fabulous. All I need to do is convince them to leave a bit of that behind.
"We don't need to convince individuals to give more, just give more to Canberra charities."
Mr Gordon said it was not important if Canberrans gave to individual local charities or through Hands Across Canberra.
"What's relevant is getting the 400,000 Canberrans to look out the window occasionally and think 'What have I done locally? Who needs me? Who needs my $10? Who needs my $100?'."
Mr Gordon there was a lingering misconception that Canberra was only a city of power and privilege.
"The 250 charities we work with don't exist because no one needs them; they exist because there is a need," he said.
Mr Gordon said when Hands Across Canberra started 10 years ago as an independent community foundation, it looked to other similar foundations around the world.
He said Canada had successful city-based charitable foundations, including Calgary, a city of just 1.5 million people which had an asset base of $1.1 billion and granted $48.9 million to 981 charitable organisations in 2018-19.
"It gives away [basically] a million dollars a week in grants. A million dollars a week - how joyful would that be?" Mr Gordon said.
"The billion dollars doesn't come from one or two rich people, it comes from thousands and thousands of Calgary families investing $10,000 or $20,000 into the community fund, for example, as a bequest. And that's where our money will come from in the future."
Mr Gordon said his dream was for Hands Across Canberra in 20 years to have a funding base of $100 million, the interest from that used to make regular grants to local Canberra organisations.
"The dream is to have a major investment fund which is a product of the community getting involved to invest accessible amounts of money, 10 or 20 thousand dollars per family, and the interest earned in normal times will be our granting source," he said.
- To donate to the Canberra Recovery Appeal, go to handsacrosscanberra.org.au.