In The Spotlight: The Australian Ethical Foundation and The Life You Can Save!
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In The Spotlight: The Australian Ethical Foundation and The Life You Can Save!


The Australian Ethical Foundation has made high impact and cost-effectiveness one of their top priorities for their strategic giving profile. And to ensure that their donations generate the most positive impact, the Australian Ethical Foundation worked alongside The Life You Can Save to help fund the most effective charitable giving solutions. 

Corporate philanthropy has a key role to play by filling the gap left by governments and not-for-profit organisations. Australian Ethical has one of the highest ratios of corporate giving in the country, directing 10% of its annual profits (after tax and before bonuses) to charitable organisations and social impact initiatives. The company collaborated with The Life You Can Save to identify the most effective charitable organisations that fulfil the purpose of the Australian Ethical Foundation. Read below to find out more! 

Partner: The Australian Ethical Foundation 

Sector: Financial Services

About: The Australian Ethical Foundation is a registered charity founded by Australian Ethical Investments, an investment manager with a difference. Every year, Australian Ethical donates 10% of its profits (after tax and before bonuses) through the Australian Ethical Foundation to drive social and environmental outcomes in Australia and overseas. The organisation believes that the power of money can be harnessed to deliver both competitive returns and a positive change for society. Headquartered in Sydney, Australian Ethical invests responsibly in well-managed ethical companies. As at 30 June 2020, they manage $4.05 billion for over 57,000 customers.  For more information, visit https://www.australianethical.com.au/

Summary: The Australian Ethical Foundation and The Life You Can Save worked together to identify and collaborate with Living Goods, a highly effective charity focusing on maternal health, family planning and other basic healthcare for women in Kenya and Uganda. 

How It All Began

As a business, Australian Ethical is driven by a bigger purpose than just making a profit they believe it’s important to make the world a better place. That’s why each year they grant 10% of their annual profits (after tax and before bonuses) to charitable organisations and social impact initiatives through the Australian Ethical Foundation, whose core focus is to address climate change as effectively as possible. 

The Australian Ethical Foundation focuses on addressing climate change through three “pillars”: People, Planet, and Animals. As part of its “People” initiative, the Foundation focuses its funding on advancing the education and empowerment of women and girls around the world – a key determinant in the fight against climate change. The Foundation is committed to ensuring the charities they fund are as impactful and cost-effective as possible. 

The challenge, however, was to identify the most effective charitable solutions to their strategic funding priorities.The Australian Ethical Foundation is committed to generating the most positive impact we can through our donations. As such, effective impact comprises a significant component of our assessment framework when awarding grants. Effective impact assesses the material effect of a charity’s work and how donated funds contribute towards that impact,” explains Head of Foundation, Nick Chadwick.

The Australian Ethical Foundation utilises leading research, most notably from Project Drawdown, to inform their funding of the most effective charitable solutions to climate change. Since 2018, they have been building out their strategic giving profile to ensure that they’re having the most impact possible. 

It was at this time that the Australian Ethical Foundation reached out to The Life You Can Save to further explore the effective altruism movement.

How The Life You Can Save Helped

The Life Can Can Save aims to inspire people to give more and to give effectively. And to do this, it promotes highly cost-effective, impactful charities that save or improve the most lives per dollar. The Live You Can Save provides tools that make it easy for companies to make smart donations, including a curated list of evidence-based charities, in-depth reports on their impact, and a calculator that helps donors see how far their dollars can go in a developing country. The Life You Can Save also provides free consultations to companies to help them meet their giving goals. 

The Australian Ethical Foundation had already zeroed in on educating and empowering women and girls as a strategic funding priority, as it is amongst the most important and effective solutions to addressing climate change. They reviewed the resources available on The Life You Can Save website and booked a free consultation with its team. The Life You Can Save then helped the Australian Ethical Foundation identify charities that would be a good fit and ultimately facilitated a partnership between the Australian Ethical Foundation and Living Goods, a nonprofit that supports and trains local community health workers (CHWs) in Kenya and Uganda—the majority of whom are women—to deliver lifesaving medicines, health education, diagnoses, and health products to millions of people who need them. Living Goods focuses especially on preventing and treating the leading causes of child deaths. A randomized controlled trial showed that efforts by Living Goods reduced mortality in children under 5 by 27% and infant mortality by 33% at an average cost of $68 per life-year saved. Living Goods estimates that their work costs an average of US$3.09 per person served per year.

Living Goods-supported CHWs travel door-to-door to visit their neighbors to conduct assessments, treatments and referrals. Photo Credits: Living Goods.

The alignment of Living Goods’ core activities and mission with one of Australian Ethical Foundation’s strategic focus areas, coupled with The Life You Can Save’s impact measurement approach, motivated the Australian Ethical Foundation to fund Living Goods and realise their impact goals.

“The Life You Can Save and the broader effective altruism movement have taken the effective impact approach to another level by providing information on the efficacy and efficiency of the work charities do. As such, we’re working more closely with The Life You Can Save to support their work and we continue to allocate more of our funds towards their recommended charities. By aligning our strategic impact focus with The Life You Can Save’s strict approach to recommending charities based on rigorous selection criteria, we can have confidence we’re delivering the impact we’re striving to generate”, explained Nick. 

Impact 

The collaboration resulted in The Australian Ethical Foundation supporting: 

  • Multi-year grant of $30K per year for Living Goods for three years 
  • One-time grant of $20K for Living Goods’ COVID-19 response. 

Just the first three months of the Australian Ethical Foundation’s funding enabled Living Goods to support 14 community health workers (CHWs) in Kenya and Uganda, who:

  • Conducted 188 under-one-year-old assessments
  • Conducted 1,005 under-five-years-old assessments
  • Registered 30 pregnancies

The Australian Ethical Foundation’s unrestricted funding allowed for Living Goods to quickly pivot and adapt to the COVID-19 response in both countries, including:

  • Training Living Goods-supported CHWs in low- and no-touch protocols
  • Providing CHWs with personal protective equipment
  • Providing CHWs with free essential health commodities
  • Increasing cell phone data and airtime stipends to CHWs
  • Seconding staff to health ministries in Uganda, Kenya, Burkina Faso and Sierra Leone. 

Story From The Field

The Australian Ethical Foundation’s support enabled Living Goods to continue their phenomenal work saving and improving lives. The story of the residents of the remote villages around Osieko is simply one example of this. 

A CHW and a newborn. Photo Credits: Living Goods.

For the residents of the remote villages around Osieko, on the shores of Lake Victoria, timing is everything.

Surrounded by water and accessible only via a circuitous boat ride through the towering papyrus reeds, these tiny settlements do sometimes have access to health clinics—but only during weekdays. If a child falls ill over the weekend or a woman goes into labor at night, reaching a doctor can mean a long and expensive journey over a lake with unpredictable waters.

“At night you just hire a boat… without that there is nowhere you can go,” explains Milliana Okumu, a local farmer and mother of four. “You wake someone up at night, you buy fuel, and of course the driver will want to be paid for taking you. If you leave here at 9 pm you might get to Osieko at 11 pm.” That’s if the water’s not too choppy. From there it’s a ten-kilometer motorbike ride to the nearest hospital.

Fortunately, many of these communities are now served by community health workers (CHWs)—local men and women trained and equipped by Living Goods. As residents of the villages in which they work, CHWs can advise and treat patients in areas where government-run clinics can’t penetrate.

Branch Manager Joseph Omondi explains that one of the villages in which Living Goods works, there are virtually no services at all. “There is no hospital there,” he says. “There used to be one, but the doctors refused to work because of the hardship. Just navigating there was very hard. But since we came they now get services, they get treatment.”

“Since we started, we’ve seen a big reduction in cases of illnesses,” he adds. “That’s why it’s important for Living Goods to continue being on the ground–there’s someone who goes door to door.” 

Benefits of Working with The Life You Can Save

Working with The Life You Can Save provided the Australian Ethical Foundation with a simplified process of identifying and donating to an effective charitable solution to their strategic funding priority. 

The Australian Ethical Foundation was confident in their charity selection, as The Life You Can Save charity recommendations are based on rigorous assessments by charity evaluators. Their selected charity was highly cost–effective, allowing them to achieve the greatest impact per dollar donated. 

Partnering with the Life You Can Save:

  • Simplified the process of identifying and donating effectively
  • Saved time and effort in looking for effective charities aligned with the Foundation’s priorities 
  • Increased donor confidence since The Life You Can Save’s charity recommendations are based on rigorous assessments by charity evaluators
  • Ensured cost-effectiveness since the charities recommended by The Life You Can Save promise the greatest impact per dollar donated
  • Maximized cost-savings, as 100% of donations were granted to Living Goods. (Though The Life You Can Save welcomes optional contributions to support The Life You Can Save’s mission itself, it does not charge a fee or take a cut for its services.) 

We are immensely grateful to The Australian Ethical Foundation for their support of highly effective charities! 

Interested in becoming a corporate partner? Write to us here


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Anam Vadgama


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The views expressed in blog posts are those of the author, and not necessarily those of Peter Singer or The Life You Can Save.