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Lawyers launch tool to put donors in driver's seat

Lawyers launch tool to put donors in driver's seat

Two Australian lawyers are trying to create a cultural change in the way Australians give.Former Mallesons Stephen Jaques lawyer, now mother of two and community lobbyist Alison Leemen and her…

Two Australian lawyers are trying to create a cultural change in the way Australians give.

Former Mallesons Stephen Jaques lawyer, now mother of two and community lobbyist Alison Leemen and her husband Mark Leeman, partner at US law firm Skadden, are challenging Australians to donate one per cent of their salary using the site's tools to research, calculate and plan charitable giving in accordance with personal income levels.

"Well-directed giving makes no difference to your standard of living, while saving the lives of the desperately poor. Would you even notice if you received 99% of your income as opposed to 100%?" said Alison Leeman.

Launched this month, Giving One Percent provides free unlimited access to comparable, analytical information on nearly 100 tax-deductible charities working to save lives and eliminate poverty overseas.

With one quarter of the world's population living on less than $1 (AUD) daily, the site aims to create public leadership and community conversation in Australia about standards of individual charity giving.

In the US, an average of 1.5% to 2% of annual income consistently goes to charity, while 93.9% of Australian taxpayers give less than one per cent of their income and 60% of Australian's give nothing (based on 2008-2009 tax returns).

Australian's are recognised as compassionate givers when disaster strikes with $280 million donated to the Asian Tsunami and $380 million to the Victorian bushfires appeal, but Alison said her focus is on "planned and regular giving"asopposedto "reactive giving" in order to enable charities to plan their program spending and donors to manage cash flow.

The site includes a 'Giving Guide', 'Giving Calculator', and a searchable 'Charity Chooser' so donors can find the charity that matches their interests. It also includes a financial snapshot so donors can asses and compare relative administrative efficiencies of charities.

Giving One Percent is endorsed by Australian author and journalist Christopher Kremmer who established One Percent Australia in 2008 and national law firm Middletons is acting as a Pro Bono legal partner.

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