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5 min read

Where ambition and innovation meet: The Koda Endowment

Profile of Nicole Richards
Written by Nicole RichardsPosted on 8/2/2024

The reputation of Koda Capital, Australia’s largest independent wealth management firm with more than $10 billion of client assets under management, has been built upon an ethos of doing things differently.

Finding solutions and creating opportunities for better outcomes are hard-wired into the way the company does business. And that’s not just building wealth for clients, but also helping them give it away.

“We’ve always believed in the importance of structured giving and its positive influence on our society,” explains Paul Heath, Koda Capital CEO.

“Doing what we can to help grow philanthropic giving in Australia is a fundamental part of Koda’s DNA.”

Philanthropy & Social Capital has been one of Koda’s core service offerings since its establishment 10 years ago. In 2023 Koda turned the spotlight on its own giving aspirations and the latent potential within the team.

Two objectives were top of mind as the firm began exploring corporate giving structures and opportunities.

“When we first began thinking about what our foundation might look like, we knew we wanted to empower our people to follow their passions and support the causes they care about,” Paul explains.

“And second, we wanted to create a lasting legacy for our people, their families and our firm.”

Unable to find a structure that matched their ambitions, Koda turned to Australian Communities Foundation for guidance.

Working in strategic partnership, Australian Communities Foundation helped design and deliver a vehicle that enables Koda team members to become structured givers in their own right, rather than reverting to the centralised decision-making model most often associated with corporate philanthropy.

“Leveraging the existing infrastructure and deep expertise of the Australian Communities Foundation team was critical to bringing this innovative model to fruition,” Paul says.

Creating a bespoke model

Supported by Australian Communities Foundation, the Koda Endowment is a unique platform that empowers team members to build philanthropic capital over time and contribute to causes they are passionate about via personalised giving accounts.

Team members make contributions ($100 minimum per month) via their salary with Koda providing matched funding of up to $200 per month to help foster a culture of philanthropy among staff.

By making giving accessible, cost-effective and easy to initiate (accounts can be set up in minutes), Koda is intentionally aligning its efforts with Philanthropy Australia’s Blueprint to Grow Structured Giving.

Dismantling many of the barriers that inhibit strategic giving has been a key consideration, Paul Heath says.

“Often structured giving is associated with a large windfall or tax-event with people needing $20,000 or more to start a giving account” he explains.

“The Koda Endowment doesn’t require team members to have an amount of capital to open an account, but simply commit to a monthly deduction from their salary.”

Koda takes care of the fees of team giving accounts to allow them to grow quickly in a fee- and tax-free environment, while also committing one per cent of the firm’s profits to the Endowment, to rapidly accelerate its growth.

“Leveraging the existing infrastructure and deep expertise of the Australian Communities Foundation team was critical to bringing this innovative model to fruition,” Paul says.

The projected rate of giving indicates the model has the potential for significant impact.

Over a 25-year career at Koda, an employee contributing $200 a month, matched by Koda, stands to accumulate a giving account worth $206,000, while donating $81,000 to charities of their choice along the way.

Thirty-eight accounts have been established in the Endowment’s first 3 months, with employees contributing an average of $257 per month through their salary.

Australian Communities Foundation CEO, Maree Sidey, says the partnership is an inspiring example of strategic thinking, technical expertise and practical experience coming together to open up a new avenue for giving.

“We’ve been delighted to partner with Koda to bring their unique giving aspirations to life for their business and their people,” Maree says.

“Our team spent many hours with Koda to understand their goals and build a bespoke model that could deliver upon those ambitions.

“What we’ve created is effective, easy to use and provides great value for money. It’s been exciting to see how quickly the Koda team has taken up the opportunity to become strategic philanthropists.”

Personalised giving in a corporate context

Victoria Lindores, an Advisor and Partner at Koda, jumped at the chance to structure her giving, naming her personalised giving account ‘Marj’s Hug’ in memory of her beloved grandmother.

“Giving is a very personal experience for me,” she says.

“I chose to start a giving account in memory of my Nan, an unassuming and kind lady with never-ending generosity. She volunteered for everything.”

Charitable giving had already featured prominently in Victoria’s life after she had set herself a target to donate one per cent of her income to charity over the last seven years. Now, with her giving account at the Koda Endowment, she hopes that building the account over time will help teach her two young children about the importance of philanthropy.

“I love the idea that we can make it a family-oriented activity that helps teach the kids that not everyone’s life is as privileged as theirs,” Victoria says, “and that as a family we can choose the causes and organisations that are important to us. My grandmother would’ve loved this.”

“It was so easy to set up and I think simplicity is important if we’re serious about growing giving. It’s empowering to work for an organisation that allows you to really support the change you want to see in the world.”

“The partnership is an inspiring example of strategic thinking, technical expertise and practical experience coming together to open up a new avenue for giving,” says Australian Communities Foundation CEO, Maree Sidey.

A blueprint for others to follow

Beyond building workplace culture and nurturing philanthropic giving, Chris Wilson, Partner in Koda’s Philanthropy & Social Capital division, believes the firm’s innovative corporate philanthropy model will help create “real purpose in the careers of our people”.

“We are confident that this will help bond staff through shared community passions and help attract and retain talent for our business,” Chris explains.

“Over time, we hope the Koda Endowment can be used to engage the families and loved ones of our staff in our business and we hope that retired staff continue to connect back into the business via the Endowment.”

As professional advisers, the team’s personal experience of philanthropy also adds another level of understanding to any conversation about structured giving with clients, which Chris says puts them in a unique position to better promote structured giving.

“In launching the Koda Endowment, we hope that we have not only developed a new model for corporate philanthropy, but also a blueprint for other organisations to follow,” Chris says.

“We are building a lasting legacy for our people, our business and most importantly our community.”