Making an impact through volunteering

Eric Zhou (third from left) and volunteers at an Asian Americans for Equality volunteering day.


By providing benefits including volunteer rewards, volunteer leave and board member rewards, the Macquarie Group Foundation supports our people to contribute their time and skills to the causes that matter to them.

We spoke to four Macquarie employees from our offices in New York, London, Sydney and Gurugram to understand what drives them to volunteer.

Eric Zhou: Supporting Asian Americans for Equality through collaboration

Eric Zhou’s role in Macquarie’s Corporate Operations Group prioritises cross-team collaboration and team building, and he saw an opportunity to foster this within Macquarie’s New York office by introducing a team building volunteer initiative. 

“Coming out of the pandemic, I saw an opportunity to bring teams together through volunteering. I think people were eager to get out and do something different and since then, we've done a few different activities partnering with Asian Americans for Equality (AAFE).”

AAFE’s mission is to advance racial, social and economic justice for Asian Americans and other systemically disadvantaged communities. 

“AAFE supports underprivileged Asian Americans in New York by helping low-income families organise housing, running a youth program, and assisting with translations, documentation assistance, and applications for low-income programs,” says Eric.

I chose AAFE because I wanted to do something to support the Asian American community.” 

Eric Zhou
Corporate Operations Group, New York

Eric arranged for his colleagues to participate in the AAFE Volunteer Program in which they collaborated to pack fresh, culturally appropriate produce and distribute it to residents in Chinatown, the Lower East Side and East Harlem. To date, Eric and his colleagues have contributed over 100 volunteer hours to AAFE through these food pantries alone.

“During the pandemic the supermarket supply chain was disrupted, and it was difficult to access traditional Asian groceries. AAFE created the food pantries to enable low-income families to get access to these foods and it was so well received that they continued it.”

In addition to the food pantry volunteering days, Eric also organised an in-person self-defence class during Macquarie’s annual community engagement week, called Foundation Week, and partnered with the Macquarie Unity team in a joint photography competition to raise funds for AAFE.

As a result of Eric’s advocacy, Macquarie employees contributed more than $A17,000, inclusive of matching from the Foundation, to AAFE in FY24 alone.

Eric recognises that the support from the Foundation encourages people to get involved in volunteering. He found that, since the pandemic, there is a strong motivation among colleagues to engage in volunteering and that demand to get involved in initiatives is continuously growing. 

Macquarie’s two volunteer days per year helps get people involved as well as letting people know that they earn $A25 per hour through volunteering to donate to a charity of their choice.”

Sara Saddhasena: Supporting Australia’s refugee community through volunteering and board service

Sara Saddhasena (front left) and volunteers from Australian Refugee Volunteers.


Sara Saddhasena joined the board of Australian Refugee Volunteers (ARV) over a year ago after spending almost two years volunteering with the organisation.

“I was always looking for opportunities to give back to the community and ARV stood out to me because it was helping refugee children,” said Sara. “Although my experience is different, my parents were immigrants to Australia, so I can try to understand some of the challenges refugees face.”

ARV is a Sydney-based community organisation that organises free monthly recreational and development programs and activities for children from refugee and asylum seeker families. 

Serving on the board enables me to volunteer my time in an even more meaningful way,” said Sara. “Being part of the Board I am now more involved in shaping the future of the organisation and what impact it can have.”

Sara Saddhasena
Financial Management Group, Sydney

ARV organises activities for younger children, such as a trip to the Sydney Royal Easter Show, and for teenagers, ARV programs have a developmental focus, as well as recreational activities for their age group. 

“One of my volunteering highlights was an initiative I collectively organised with some of my Macquarie colleagues last year. We put together a careers event where the older kids were able to see what opportunities might exist for them after school.”

The event included mock interview sessions, financial wellbeing sessions and more.

“At the end, seeing how happy the kids are and feeling like you’ve actually done something to help them – it’s really rewarding.”

“When I joined Macquarie, I became aware of the Foundation and realised there are so many people who also wanted to volunteer. I started promoting ARV and now I’ve met so many colleagues who now also volunteer with the organisation.”

Macquarie has built a culture where I feel like I’m able to have my career but also do my volunteering work. From having corporate volunteer days to promoting ARV’s work, it’s great to see how we can utilise people’s different skills and interests to have an impact in the community.”

Louis Pegg: Global volunteering month utilises collaborative spirit for good

Louis Pegg (right, back row) and volunteers during CGM’s volunteering month in London.


In his eight years at Macquarie, Louis Pegg has participated in multiple volunteering initiatives including the Community Resourcing (CoRe) Program in Islington, London – a pro-bono program designed to help build the sustainability of the non-profit sector.

“I lived in Islington for a long time and it’s just incredible how diverse the borough is. You’ve got some nice pockets but there’s a range of people from different socioeconomic backgrounds. One of the things I’m passionate about is giving back to the local area and specifically trying to help young people,” said Louis.

The CoRe program pairs a team of volunteers with a non-profit organisation to work on a project for a six-month period, utilising skills such as project management, strategic thinking, communication and leadership.

There are a lot of young people who just don't have the same opportunities as many of us. I think it’s important to try to give people as much of a leg up as you can, so that they can reach everything they’re capable of achieving.”

Louis Pegg
Commodities and Global Markets, London

In addition to his pro bono work on the CoRe program, Louis serves on a voluntary committee for his business within Commodities and Global Markets (CGM). With the aim of increasing connectivity among its people, in 2022, the committee created ‘CGM volunteering month’ to introduce volunteering opportunities to colleagues across the business.

“The Foundation offers volunteer rewards where you collect $A25 per hour of volunteering to donate to a charity of your choice, so we wanted to shine a spotlight on this and raise awareness among our colleagues in CGM.”

Volunteering month is a competition between the four regions Macquarie operates in (Asia, the Americas, Australia and New Zealand (ANZ), Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA)), open to the CGM team across all levels, and the region that records the most volunteering hours wins. The response from people across the world has been remarkable.

“The first year we recorded over 1000 volunteer hours and last year it was over 1600 volunteer hours, so when you think that for each volunteering hour that people contribute, they get $A25 from the Foundation,1 that's a whole lot of money to donate!” 

Volunteering month raises awareness of multiple community organisations and causes in the local community, where a number of employees have opted to continue volunteering even after the month was over.

“What I noticed is that a lot of people actually started volunteering after the event. For example, the food bank is only a 15-minute walk from the office. Many people now decide to go down after work on a Tuesday and help out because the experience of going and talking to the people who run the food bank is so impactful.”

While volunteering has a great impact on our people, the impact is also importantly felt by the community organisations who benefit from skilled volunteering support including strategic advice, assisting with databases and data analytics models.

It’s one of those things where you don’t realise the impact you can have. Our volunteers, among other things, basically rebuilt a charity’s data tracking analytics model in Excel, which is what they do every day, and they were just blown away by it.”

Saurabh Bafna: Volunteering with Macquarie Group Foundation grant partners

Saurabh Bafna (second from left) with students at Lotus Petal Foundation.


As a chartered accountant and certified internal auditor, Saurabh Bafna, based in Macquarie’s Gurugram office, has developed a passion for empowering people to become financially independent by equipping them with soft skills along with financial literacy.

“For a number of years, I’ve been conducting sessions with different community organisations. We start by asking questions such as how do we start saving? How do we make financial goals and how do we achieve these goals?” said Saurabh.

Saurabh volunteers with Lotus Petal Foundation (Lotus Petal), a grant partner of the Macquarie Group Foundation. The organisation aims to create equal opportunities for underprivileged children living in urban and semi-urban areas by providing programs and interventions in education, healthcare and nutrition spaces.

Saurabh conducts financial literacy sessions as well as soft skills training sessions on time management, communication, confidence building, CV writing and interview readiness. 

Each time we went to Lotus Petal, we saw how the students’ confidence grew and by the end of the program many students were placed into employment.”

Saurabh Bafna
Vice President
Financial Management Group, Gurugram

Despite most students being placed into employment after the program, around 23 students were not, so the team at Lotus Petal asked Saurabh and the other volunteers to host one-on-one masterclasses and workshops with these students. The aim was to help them overcome their challenges and gain employment. 

“We really wanted to understand, was it a confidence issue? Were they only applying for jobs their parents were doing or wanted them to do? We reviewed their CVs and did mock interviews. It really helped.” 

Following these one-on-one sessions, around 19 out of those 23 students were placed in employment. 

As well as volunteering, Saurabh has been involved in fundraising for Lotus Petal, where he utilises Foundation benefits available to Macquarie employees including donation matching. Lotus Petal is also a  grant partner of the Macquarie Group Foundation, which funds the Jeevika Skill Development Program. Saurabh supports this program through an initiative called ‘Skill Giving Fridays.’

“We setup a classroom for various vocational skill training courses such as digital marketing, banking, retail at the Lotus Petal Foundation campus with other colleagues, to promote more skill-based volunteering.”

Saurabh continues to volunteer as he can see the tangible impact the organisation has on the lives of individuals, the broader community and himself. 

I feel like I've done something that I really wanted to do in life. When you can give something to the communityit gives you a lot of internal satisfaction, internal inner peace. And it’s something I’m actually able to achieve while doing my job. So that's a bonus.”
  1. Volunteer rewards are capped at $A500 per person per year.