The Exchange Places Fund uses a percentage of monthly revenue from financial advice firm, Morgans Exchange Place, to help create opportunities for young people with a focus on Indigenous people in South Australia. “I feel that if more companies knew how easy it was to get started with a fund of their own, then many more would look to do a similar thing,” says Tom Gray, Partner and co-founder of the Exchange Places Fund.
Morgans Exchange Place is a newly established financial advice firm based in Adelaide’s CBD.
As part of the business’s ethos and workplace culture, Partners Piers Arundell and Tom Gray, were keen to find a vehicle that would help put some structure around the team’s philanthropic contributions.
“For us and a lot of the Partners, we’d been making donations to various charities in an indiscriminate manner,” explains Piers. “We thought it would be great to have a vehicle that would allow us to make regular donations as part of this new venture we’re all in.
“In many respects, it was about creating a more concerted, directed approach to how we make donations.
“We’ve been very fortunate as a group and I think it’s beholden upon us to give,” Piers says.
Before reading about the launch of Foundation SA in The Advertiser, Piers and Tom had spoken with the company’s accountant to explore structured giving vehicles.
“Our accountant had said we’d need to set up our own PAF [private ancillary fund] and to do that we’d have to engage a lawyer and it was going to cost us around $6,000 and a fair bit of time,” Tom explains. “So, when we saw the snippet about Foundation SA in the paper, we jumped on it.”
“The ease and the low cost of setting up our Fund has been a big benefit and the ongoing fees are reasonable and much cheaper than having our own accountant doing all the books which is great because the charities will end up with more money and we have an immediate tax deduction.
“Having someone like Sophie [Foundation SA Philanthropy & Engagement Manager] holding our hand through the whole process just enhanced the whole experience,” Tom continues.
“We appreciated having someone with a lot of experience who was able to help us formulate the overall strategy for the Fund.”
“The fact that it was a South Australian foundation, based in Adelaide was also appealing,” Piers adds. “Being local was an important part of the decision making for us, and the early support the Foundation received from the State Government gave it extra credibility.”
The Exchange Places Fund will focus its support on education, employment, health and wellbeing for young people, and in particular Indigenous youth, in South Australia.
“Ultimately, I hope that the giving we do through the Fund helps to create opportunities for young people who otherwise may not have them,” Tom says. “I suspect that it will educate us a lot on different peoples’ plights and circumstances too because I know we’ve got a lot to learn.”
The Exchange Places Fund will give away a fixed percentage of the firm’s revenue each year, with annual grantmaking expected to be in excess of $50,000.
One of the benefits of applying a percentage, Piers says, is that the firm’s giving will automatically increase alongside the growth of the business.
“As we continue to grow the business, the amount that goes into the Fund for giving will also grow.
“So even though we’re starting with a relatively small amount, that percentage of profits will grow over time and those funds will be able to make a very significant difference.”
The response from employees has been overwhelmingly positive, Tom says, with an almost universal uptake from partners and staff allocating a portion of their fees or salary to the Fund.
“Initially, when we took this idea to the team, we explained that it was 100 per cent voluntary. We said that if you’d like to be part of this, you’re welcome to but there’s no pressure, but everyone was happy to take part and everyone who contributes will have a say on where the funds go.”
‘Just do it’
Tom and Piers say their experience of getting the Exchange Places Fund up and running has been such a positive one that it has inspired them to become slightly evangelical.
“I was at a lunch the other day and I mentioned what we were doing and that prompted another person there to say, ‘We should be doing that too’,” Tom says.
“Tom and I would be more than happy to speak to other groups who are thinking about going down this path. It wouldn’t be a long conversation based on how new we are to it, but we’d just be saying how easy it is,” Piers says.
“I think it’s basic human nature to want to help people,” Tom adds reflectively.
“A lot of us are very busy and it can be hard to do the hands-on work, but I feel that if more companies knew how easy it was to get started with a fund of their own, then many more would look to do a similar thing.
“My advice to anyone who’s been thinking about doing it is just do it.”
Learn more about Morgans Exchange Place