Categories: education, environment, advocacy, research & information, events, general
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By Louise Arkles, Director Knowledge & Communications, Philanthropy Australia
A colleague once said to me: “No one ever goes to conferences to learn things, it’s all about the networking.” I attended the Australian Environmental Grantmakers Network (AEGN) conference this week, and was delighted that it proved this attitude wrong.
I want three things from a conference to make it worth my while:
- to take away new understanding that sticks - sticky facts
- to be inspired enough for the time to fly by, and
- to hear views that challenge me out of my comfort zone, no matter if the speaker is holding a microphone or a cup of coffee.
This Conference was worked on every level. I was riveted.
Here are my top ten sticky facts:
- We need to shift the frame of the debate – from ‘the need to act’ to ‘strategically managing the problem now’ - in order to accelerate change.
- The energy industry is turning on its head. Demand is collapsing from too much supply. Australians are learning to do more with less energy. There will soon be wholesale disruption in the energy industry and a strong fight from threatened fossil fuel industries.
- Technology costs are coming down fast – the big cost is not the generation of electricity but the distribution - but regulation and vested interests are inhibiting change. Solar costs came down 75% in 2010/11, and will come down a further 30% this year. We are already down 15% on forward expectations. We therefore need the renewable energy target to be firm and robust.
- Funding the environment is funding social justice, and disadvantage, and health, and research - our imposed silos are a furphy.
- Once the finance sector cottons on that renewables are cheaper than fossil fuels then the markets will shift, as we are already seeing, and finally government policy will follow.
- It’s hard for people to picture the real impact of climate change, and lack of understanding fuels disempowerment, leading to an absence of personal responsibility. More understanding will lead to more support.
- No one ever identifies as ‘a member of the public’, so pitching a message to ‘the public’ won’t work.
- Focusing on facts is not going to work. People have their own beliefs and get stuck in being right. Value sets are important, and control people’s actions.
- Wind farms pose no threat to human, plant or animal health, but the debate has been hijacked by a climate of fear in Australia.
- More heat now going into the earth than is going out, so the earth is warming at a staggering rate.
Simon Holmes a Court took a group of delegates to visit the Hepburn Community Wind Farm, of which he is Chair, prior to the conference, presenting a powerful case study (forgive the pun). Hepburn Springs is a small town in central Victoria. Seven years ago 200 people turned up to a community meeting to defeat a developer planning a wind farm. Now a community-owned wind farm in Hepburn has 2000 members, and generates about substantial percentage of the community’s power needs, with the two turbines powering approximately one thousand local homes each. Also a grant maker, the Hepburn Community Wind Farm is on track to donate $50,000 to the local area in the coming year.
Eleven NFPs working in the environmental space were invited to give a 2 minute pitch to the delegates. Lunch was beckoning, but these voices were louder than my stomach, their message imperative, for they deliver the change we want to see in the world. This first-hand account from grant recipients and NFP partners was a valuable connection, linking theory to practice for delegates.
Implementation is always a hard ask at the end of a conference - how can I put this new-found knowledge to work? Here are my top 7 opportunities for the philanthropic to-do list:
- Support the experts to develop and drive a collective strategic view, understood and owned by the community, so we can recognise the gaps and act to address them.
- Harness the appetite for behaviour change around climate that is already out there, by disseminating a clear message about renewable energy, coming simultaneously from a range of credible sources. Fund communication campaigns: work with the almost 1 million Australians who have solar panels on their roofs.
- Act on the strategic goal to sequence the green energy concept, shifting from being a radical idea to becoming the social norm. Philanthropy can take the risks needed to drive this shift.
- Stop focusing on countering denial, rather focus on getting the killer arguments and key questions ready for when the backlash comes.
- Reframe the debate from fear to strategy, from reacting to irrelevant questions to answering strategic ones. Identify the pertinent questions - How can we minimise the employment dislocation in the energy industry? How can we protect the disadvantaged through this transition? Prepare sound answers and get them into a variety of media.
- We must be proactive and assertive in getting our message out to the public, but not anti-corporate. Find leaders from inside successful corporates locally and internationally who have embraced renewables to talk to lagging corporates, instead of relying on NFPs to try to push a green message.
- Fund research: eg. benchmark policy in Australia, produce report cards on government action.
Congratulations to Amanda and her team at the AEGN for hosting a very worthwhile event.
Categories: guest post, environment, indigenous, arts, education, topical issues, general
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This post written by Vedran Drakulic, Chief Executive Officer, Gandel Philanthropy.
Over the recent months Gandel Philanthropy has undertaken a process of reviewing its strategic direction, its granting philosophy and the nature of its grant-making. The reasons for this include Gandel Philanthropy’s wish to expand its community involvement and influence, create stronger links and develop its relationships, as well as the fact that the Board aims to increase grant distributions in the coming years.
The new strategy addresses matters such as the areas of interest that we wish to support; outlines the three levels of grants in terms of their financial size; the distinction between grants that are open for application and those that are by invitation; and it outlines the time-frames for grants in relation to the application periods and the frequency of granting.
In terms of the actual structure of giving, Gandel Philanthropy developed three levels - categories of grants that are aimed at providing support for both Jewish and Australian causes and organisations:
1. communityassist grants
These grants are allocated up to a maximum amount of $40,000. They are generally envisaged as one-off grants aimed at providing support for a defined program or part of a program. They are geared towards smaller community organisations, however any eligible organisation can apply. These grants are open for application to anyone that is eligible, and that delivers programs or services within one of the specified areas of interest (see below). This is a rolling program of applications throughout the year and there are no closing dates for these grants. Decisions will be made around four times a year.
Gandel Philanthropy believes that all types of grants are needed to enable us to provide support for the benefit of those in need in the community, and to achieve our vision of “creating a positive and lasting difference in people’s lives.” We believe that, strategically, we can support both the ongoing, immediate, as well as emerging needs in the society through allocations from our communityassist grants. As Chet Tchozewski, of Global Greengrants Fund, pointed out in Alliance magazine, “too often foundation leaders incorrectly assume that small grants are not strategic”. We believe they are and can be, and our strategy reflects that belief.
In addition, we will provide grants in both the traditional, as well as some new, areas of interest, reflecting our wish to explore and learn about the needs in a range of sectors in the community. These areas of interest may continue to evolve as part of our learning.
Currently Gandel Philanthropy communityassist grants are allocated towards eight specific Areas of Interest:
- Arts & Culture;
- Health & Medical Research;
- Community Development;
- Social Cohesion & Inclusion;
- Poverty & Disadvantage;
- Environment; and
- Emergency Response & Recovery.
Additional details related to eligibility, Areas of Interest, the application process, exclusions and other relevant information are contained in the communityassist Grant Guidelines document. Potential applicants need to contact Gandel Philanthropy on firstname.lastname@example.org, or by calling (03) 8564 1288, to obtain the communityassist Grant Guidelines and the communityassist Application Form. Applicants are encouraged to discuss their project proposal with us before submitting an application.
2. communitybuild grants
The communitybuild category of grants reflects Gandel Philanthropy’s wish to provide significant support to community organisations to achieve stronger and longer-term positive social impact within the specified areas of interest. These grants can be allocated as single, one-off contribution or multi-year support, depending on the nature of the need and the proposal. As a rule, the aim is to support programs that are evidence-based, that deliver defined positive outcomes in the community, that may provide long-term benefit to the target audience, that have the potential to be ‘transferrable’ and broadly implemented.
New issue of Australian Philanthropy journal - Brave Philanthropy: taking risks and testing solutionsOn October 1, 2012 at 4:06 pm by Joanna Fulton - Permanent Link
Categories: PhilanthropyWiki, What's New, arts, indigenous, environment, members only, topical issues, stories, news, research & information, philanthropy australia website, recommended reading, education, general
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Brave Philanthropy: taking risks and testing solutions is the theme of our latest issue of Australian Philanthropy, Issue 82, Spring 2012.
Lisa Jordan, executive director of the Bernard van Leer Foundation wrote in Alliance magazine, (March 2012) “…taking risks is an inherent responsibility of organised philanthropy … to use private money to try to solve intractable problems … The question is, do we?” While foundations often explore and plan for financial risk in their investment management, there is little understanding of risk on the program side. “We have no forums where risk can be discussed … and we rarely use the tools we have such as evaluation to help us understand the degree to which we have succeeded or failed.”
The question of failure is a tricky one – it assumes we have identified a measure of achievement to be aimed for, and fallen short of that bar. But how many foundations have actually identified the impact they want to make in a given place or field, let alone measured success against those aims? If, on the other hand, the only true failure is a grant that nothing is learned from, why do many foundations inhibit the extent of their successes by not sharing the learnings? Issue 82 investigates whether Australian philanthropy does indeed take risks in its grant-making and learn from both its successes and failures.
By Brenton Caffin, CEO, The Australian Centre for Social Innovation (TACSI)
The Australian Centre for Social Innovation works with people to create and spread new ways to lead better lives. We heard the call from the child protection system and in response we undertook a project to explore ways of preventing families fromb spiralling into crisis and to enable more families to thrive. The result was Family by Family.
Interview: Eda Ritchie (PDF)
The R. E. Ross Trust, funding across Victoria, is one of the most innovative and respected foundations in the country, showing leadership across grant-making, communications and transparency. Eda Ritchie joined the Trust as trustee in 1997 and Louise Arkles asked her about the importance of risk-taking in philanthropy.
Interview: Dr Sam Prince (PDF)
Picture this: a Scottish-born Australian doctor with Sri Lankan heritage running a chain of Mexican restaurants alongside his work in emergency medicine and doing aid work in Cambodia, Sri Lanka and Vietnam, and now in remote communities in the Northern Territory. Phew!
Dr Sam Prince lives this life – he’s a medical doctor, a business entrepreneur, and the founder of the charities Emagine Foundation and One Disease at a Time, and to top it off he’s not yet 30. Louise Arkles, editor of Australian Philanthropy, asked Sam Prince about his philanthropy and his approach to taking risks and testing solutions.
Members of Philanthropy Australia can download the full PDF version of issue 82 here (requires Member login)
Categories: environment, guest post, topical issues, events
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This post written by Amanda Martin, Executive Officer, Australian Environmental Grantmakers Network (AEGN)
Did you know that we are in the middle of a quiet revolution? It’s one that has to happen and is transforming our energy systems before our ideas. For example:
- Germany has a target of reaching producing 20% of its energy from your renewable energy sources by 2020. And guess what? It’s already there!
- The cost of photovoltaic solar panels has decreased by 75% in 4 years.
- On a windy day, South Australia gets at least 50% of its energy from wind.
- The rate of roof top solar installation in private homes has increased by 5,500% in the last 4 years and 20% of Australian households now have PV solar panels or solar hot water systems.
Despite all this, Arctic sea ice has shrunk to record lows this northern summer, the US is enduring one of the worst droughts on record, and in Australia we are seeing climate abatement efforts being challenged nearly every day.
Whether you are a teacher, an investor, a property owner, a hiker, a tourist, a mother or a child, climate change impacts on all aspects of life – including you. Many of us are convinced that human induced climate change is happening and 99% of climate scientists agree with us. We know the implications – rising sea levels, more catastrophic storms and fires, drought, increased stress on our already stressed plants and animals and our national icons like the Great Barrier Reef and more problems for many of our developing nation neighbours. Just to name a few issues.
But what can we do? What can you do as an individual and what can we do as a funding community? Philanthropy can play a transformational role. Design to Win: Philanthropy’s Role in the Fight Against Global Warming, funded by several major US foundations, describes philanthropy’s role in climate change:
“Politicians are fixated on the next election; CEOs are focused on next quarter’s numbers. Philanthropists, by contrast, have longer time horizons and can tolerate more risk. Besides being more patient investors, philanthropists have a strong tradition of filling in gaps, spurring step-changes in technology and pursuing programming that transcends both national boundaries and economic sectors. Such capacities are exactly what are needed to tackle global warming.”
Environment doesn’t need to be your sole focus to fund in climate change. You can combine your interests in other areas like health, welfare, rural and regional Australia, youth or Indigenous people with climate change funding.
The Australian Environmental Grantmakers Network conference in Melbourne on October 24 is called Funding the Change: Catalysing Transition to a Safe Climate. It will explore the themes of climate and energy, and will focus on how philanthropy can play a key role in catalysing the transformation to a clean energy economy.
The conference will look at various themes including:
- What technology and policy is here now to help us on the journey to a zero carbon economy and what is already happening in Australia and around the world?
- How can we build widespread, enduring support for a clean energy future and what is philanthropy’s role in achieving this?
- What else is happening around the world including in the US and what philanthropic funding and projects are leading the way?
- A portfolio approach of different actions and strategies is needed to address climate change. What are these approaches and how can we fund them to speed the transition we require?
Speakers will include Heidi Binko from The Rockefeller Family Fund, Professor Mike Sandiford from Melbourne University’s Melbourne Energy Institute and Paul Gilding – author of ‘The Great Disruption’ and advisor to the business community.
The conference will be preceded by a field trip to the Hepburn Wind Farm and the Lakehouse restaurant in Daylesford and followed by a walk around Melbourne’s CBD to look at how the Melboure City Council is working toward a low carbon city.
All funders are welcome. For further details, go to AEGN’s website – www.aegn.org.au.
Categories: environment, What's New, topical issues, news, research & information
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Last year the Australian Environmental Grantmakers Network (AEGN) engaged the services of EMC Media, a market research company to survey members and friends on what motivates and challenges environmental sector philanthropists. AEGN hope the results of the survey will better inform their work and provide them with further insight into how they can encourage more grantmakers to join their network and to increase environmental funding.
To ensure information is gathered from a cross section of funders, AEGN are seeking your feedback. The link below takes you to a short 20 minute survey; AEGN and Philanthropy Australia encourage those in the philanthropic sector to take part in this important research into environmental philanthropy.
The survey can be completed up until midnight on Friday 2 March 2012.
For those who complete the survey you’ll also be in the draw to win some great giveaways:
- One FREE ticket to this year’s AEGN conference (date yet to be determined; ticket is entry only not flights / accommodation)
- A $50 voucher to bookstore ‘Hill of Content’ (stores in both Sydney and Melbourne)
- A one year subscription to Sanctuary magazine - Sanctuary profiles the work of Australia’s leading environmental architects and designers, providing inspiration and practical solutions for a sustainable home, without compromising on design
Categories: guest post, environment, indigenous, topical issues, recommended reading, stories, general
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This post written by Justin Glass, Development Manager, Trust for Nature
Trust for Nature is an independent, not-for-profit organisation established to protect native habitat on private land. Established under the Victorian Conservation Trust Act (1972), Trust for Nature is the only Victorian organisation to protect bushland with conservation covenants that last in perpetuity.
Trust for Nature has conservation covenants on about 1100 Victorian properties covering 46,000 hectares; owns a further 47 properties covering about 35,000 hectares and has transferred a further 67 properties to the State.
Image: Map of Victorian covenants and location of Neds Corner. Download as PDF.
Trust for Nature’s Strategic Plan stresses the importance of stakeholder engagement in private land conservation particularly with local Indigenous and Traditional Owner groups. At the Trust’s largest property, the 30,000 hectare former grazing property, ‘Neds Corner Station’, located 70 km west of Mildura, Trust for Nature has done a lot of work with Indigenous people to concurrently protect cultural assets and native species. It was purchased in 2002 for large scale conservation research and practice with assistance from the Commonwealth Government, the RE Ross Trust, the Cybec Foundation, The Meles Fund, The Limb Foundation and many other generous individuals.
The Indigenous history of Neds Corner Station is as rich as its natural heritage. It is thought that the patterns of native plants and wildlife found by the first Europeans were shaped by Indigenous use of the region dating from about 13,000 years ago. The Murray River provided food for large communities of Indigenous people and areas like Neds Corner Station became important sites for trade and cultural ceremonies. Archaeological discoveries in the area continue to provide us with valuable insights into how the land was managed and the cultural significance it holds for Indigenous people.
Photo: Indigenous crew erecting fences
around sensitive sites
At Neds Corner Station many projects have been undertaken to protect Indigenous cultural heritage by Trust for Nature and local Indigenous people including:
- Completing over 50 kilometres of fencing to protect important Indigenous cultural sites have been built by Indigenous and non-Indigenous fencers in partnership with Mallee Catchment Management Authority Indigenous Advisory Officers;
- Securing Commonwealth funding to establish a large-scale fence, that builds on earlier work to improve cultural heritage protection and research environmental restoration and cultural heritage protection working in together. Trust for Nature is thankful for further investments by philanthropists that build on this Commonwealth grant and enable additional works to be planned.
- Trust for Nature has established a partnership with La Trobe University that provides training in the recognition and management of cultural sites to Indigenous and non-Indigenous people;
- Commenced development of a cultural heritage management plan for Neds Corner;
- Created a “Keeping Place” for Indigenous cultural items requiring removal as part of the Commonwealth Government’s Living Murray works;
- Develop a project plan to obtain funding for Indigenous officers in ecology and land management.
Photo: Blue and MEEP participant
erecting rabbit-proof fence
With the recent floods and good seasons the River is again awash with fish, turtles, crustaceans including water mussels. Kangaroos, emus, tree goannas, shingleback lizards and move over earth that is filled with yams, soft root tubers, other edible roots and herbaceous perennials. This currently abundant supply of food, reminds us of how the Neds Corner Station area has provided Indigenous people with food and supplies for millennia. Neds Corner Station and its surrounding areas are believed to contain one of the highest densities of Indigenous cultural objects and burial sites in Victoria.
Trust for Nature recognises the significance of these sites and works closely with the Indigenous people of the Murray region to protect them from potential exposure caused by erosion, rabbit burrowing and other animal or human disturbance. Protection of cultural heritage is often best achieved through the promotion of native plants and the Trust, in partnership with many others has undertaken work to regenerate native vegetation and protection of Indigenous sites synergistically.
The goal of Trust for Nature at Neds Corner is to promote the bond between people and the landscape, a bond demonstrated by Indigenous use of the land for millennia. Achieving closer ties with the Indigenous community will be an important part of our journey.
For further information on Trust for Nature or Neds Corner Station please contact Justin Glass, Development Manager, Trust for Nature - (03) 8631 5888, www.trustfornature.org.au
Categories: government, arts, indigenous, environment, What's New, topical issues, advocacy, news, education, general
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Bruce Argyle attended the CHOGM People’s Forum on behalf of Philanthropy Australia last week.
As part of the various meetings and fora held in conjunction with the Commonwealth Heads of government Meetings in Perth, the CHOGM Peoples Forum (CPF) brought together 250 civil society representatives from across the Commonwealth to share ideas and to respond to issues under the theme ‘Driving Change for a Dynamic Commonwealth’.
The program included eight themed workshops;
- Governance and Democracy
- Gender and Women’s Rights
- Indigenous People
- Education, Technology and Innovation
- Culture, Identity and Peace
- Economic Development, Trade and Finance
- Climate Change, Environment and Disaster Management
- Human Rights
The People’s Forum was opened by the Prime Minister, the Hon Julia Gillard who spoke about the CPF being a place for promoting democracy and civil society, representing over 2 billion people from 54 countries. She encouraged those present to ensure that civil society brings commonwealth values to life on a daily basis.
Dhananjayan Sriskandarajah (‘Danny’), Interim Director of the Commonwealth Foundation, highlighted that, in order to remain relevant, the Commonwealth needed to return to focusing on both values and on value-adding in terms of adding value to people’s lives. Kamalesh Sharma, Secretary General of the Commonwealth highlighted these values as including tolerance, respect and understanding and cited the Commonwealth as being the original worldwide web.
Phiroshaw Camay, Chair of the Commonwealth Foundation, spoke about the Statement on Civil Society that has been developed and highlighted the importance of education as a fundamental human right. Ingrid Srinath, Secretary CIVICUS, The Global Society for Civil Society, took the assembled group on a journey of civil society … through the heady optimism of the 1990’s to the war on terror and increasing levels of disparity around the world. This has been mirrored by an increase in criminalisation of dissent in many countries.
There was a strong focus on civil society throughout the Forum sessions and an encouragement to ‘join the dots’ through partnerships and collaboration. Interestingly, Facebook was cited as the largest example of civil society on the planet. Commonwealth connect was launched as a new platform for building closer connections between people in the Commonwealth.
Three recommendations forwarded to the Heads of Government were:
- To see civil society as a resource and as allies of government
- To instruct public servants to work more closely with civil society
- To instruct the Commonwealth Foundation to take on a facilitator role to make the above happen.
Sir Ronald Sanders spoke on behalf of the EPG (Eminent Persons Group) that was set up in 2009 to frame a report for the Heads of Government on reforms for the Commonwealth. This report includes 206 recommendations but has yet to be made public (much to the consternation of delegates present). It is said to include recommendations for a Human Rights Charter, the establishment of a Commissioner for democracy and human rights and an expert group to look at the impacts of climate change for member countries.
On Wednesday evening a panel of human rights advocates included the Hon Michael Kirby who spoke to the topic ‘Silence is not an option’. Participants were strongly encouraged to speak up for human rights as part of civil society. In terms of Commonwealth priorities this included speaking up on:
- Early and forced marriages
- Rights of women and girls
- Impacts of climate change
Climate change was highlighted as an area that the Commonwealth needs to adopt a much stronger position on, given the huge impact likely to be seen on small Pacific islands and low lying countries. Speakers included Daisy Cooper, Director of the Commonwealth Advisory Bureau who gave clues to how increased efforts could be achieved; Nicholas Watt of the Commonwealth Ecology Council spoke about the need to establish marine parks and sustainable fisheries (‘If we don’t have fisheries on the agenda then by 2050 we won’t have fish on the menu’).
On the final afternoon participants were delighted to have two special guests speak about the need to finish the task of totally eradicating Polio. It was noted that there are now only four countries and 1% of the world still have Polio (Pakistan, Afghanistan, India, Nigeria) but speakers highlighted that we cannot afford to rest before total eradication. The first guest was Ramesh Ferris, a polio survivor from India, now living in Canada. He talked of his own experience and how he was provided rehabilitative support and corrective surgery. The second was Hugh Evans, CEO of Global Poverty Project (previously Oaktree Foundation) who talked about the need to raise funds to remove the final traces of Polio. Without this a further 10 million children will get polio over the next 40 years. A special concert is being held for Polio in Perth during CHOGM and Julia Gillard announced that Australia will commit to providing $50M of additional funds to address polio. Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation are also contributing $40M.
The Commonwealth People’s Forum provided an opportunity to see firsthand how civil society can engage around shared values to address global issues and to be a part of framing future directions. Against a backdrop of needing to ensure relevance it was great to network and be a part of a worldwide web of very diverse peoples.
Categories: environment, guest post, indigenous, topical issues, events
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(The following guest post is by the Australian Environmental Grantmakers Network.)
Did you know that Indigenous people formally own 1.7 million square kilometers of land in Australia or nearly 23% of the continent and are responsible for sea management across parts of the Australian coast including 85% of the Northern Territory coastline? Indigenous people have a connection with Australian country that has existed for thousands of years.
Cultivating this connection not only brings about conservation outcomes but cultural, economic, health and education benefits. However, reliable information about the work of indigenous groups and individuals and those supporting them can be hard to find. What is the nature of this land and sea ownership, which institutions facilitate this relationship and what is the role of philanthropy in this sector? Are there good philanthropic examples we can learn from?
The Australian Environmental Grantmakers Network (AEGN) is holding its annual Conference on the 29th of June 2011 at the Melbourne Museum. This year the conference theme is Indigenous and environmental and funding.
International guest speaker, Diane Christensen of the U.S. based Christensen Fund, will speak about her journey in philanthropy and why the Fund focuses on Indigenous and environmental funding. Did you know that The Christensen Fund has had a long history with Australia? Its founder, Allen Christensen, visited regularly since the 1950s, and his company, Utah International, did much business here in the mining sector until its merger with BHP in Australia and General Electric in the USA in 1971 (the latter then the largest private merger on record). Subsequently Allen developed Southern Cross Mines, a joint venture evaporate salt project in Western Australia.
Other wonderful speakers will talk on issues including the relationship of Indigenous people to country, the institutions that are facilitating this relationship and the many benefits to Indigenous cultural, economic, health and education outcomes that come from helping this relationship to flourish. Together we will explore what funding has worked and why and what the role of philanthropy is and could be. We would love you to join us for this interesting and informative conference.
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