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.
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: government, education, advocacy, research & information, general
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When the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission (ACNC) commences on 1 October 2012, part of its function will be to improve public understanding of the work of the sector. An important part of this function will be to work closely with the existing research community, including both academic researchers and researchers within not-for-profits, to facilitate and support research into not-for-profits and charities.
The ACNC Taskforce is developing its research strategy and is keen to hear from researchers about how it can best support their work. One option under consideration is establishing a regular forum for engaging people with an interest in research relating to charities and not-for-profits. This could take the form of a mailing list, regular meetings, or the establishment of an online community.
Another would be to bring together some of the existing databases of resources and promote the work of the research community through the Commission’s website.
Other possibilities include:
- Collaborating on or supporting research projects in various ways
- Assisting to identify areas of research need, such as challenges faced by the sector or knowledge gaps
- Building stronger links between NFP researchers and Commonwealth government agencies
The ACNC Taskforce is seeking the input of researchers about the best ways to develop close and productive working relationships. To offer feedback or just to get in touch, please contact Dr Fiona Tweedie, researcher, (Fiona.Tweedie@ato.gov.au) or Dr Joyce Chia, senior policy officer, (Joyce.Chia@ato.gov.au). You can also join the conversation on the Aussie Charities and NFPs forum on LinkedIn at www.linkedin.com/groups/Aussie-Charities-NFPs-4541894
Categories: recommended reading, government, library, philanthropy australia website, research & information, general
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Philanthropy Australia is pleased to launch a new free downloadable Handbook for trustees of Public Ancillary Funds (PuAFs). Not only is this guide useful for existing PuAFs, but also to those who are considering establishing a PuAF or have involvement with them as a partner or grant-seeker.
In the light of recent legislative changes and the new Guidelines for Public Ancillary Funds, this Handbook will be a particularly useful guide to the new requirements. It comments on what is now required of trustees of PuAFs, and where the trustee is a company the directors thereof, under the Guidelines and at law. It is not a legal document but a “plain English” introductory guide to the role and duties of the trustee and trustee directors.
New edition of Australian Philanthropy Journal: Philanthropy in the West: mining the richness of spiritOn May 23, 2012 at 5:55 pm by Joanna Fulton - Permanent Link
Categories: topical issues, What's New, PhilanthropyWiki, community foundations, stories, recommended reading, research & information, news, library, general
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Philanthropy in the West: mining the richness of spirit is the theme of our latest issue of Australian Philanthropy, Issue 81, May 2012.
Philanthropy as a social phenomenon often has cultural or religious roots, and is imbued with historical references: think of the influence of the gold rush on the national economy and the creation of the first foundations from those profits. Australia is now reaping the profits of a resources boom, and some of the great energy and expertise that has driven the accumulation of this wealth is now being redirected to sharing the bounty.
Western Australia is a hotbed of creativity, and philanthropy is thriving - with Governor McCusker donating his salary to charities, Andrew and Nicola Forrest donating $80 million worth of shares and options, and new offices for philanthropy advisors being established in Perth. What mindsets and movements are behind these extraordinary stories? How widespread is the ‘generosity gene’ in WA, and how can the West foster greater philanthropy, both in terms of dollars and impact?
Tonya McCusker, wife of the Governor of Western Australia, and Administrator of The McCusker Charitable Foundation, spoke to Louise Arkles about her family’s experience in giving.
Back in 2001 Andrew and Nicola Forrest established the Australian Children’s Trust, to assist underprivileged children and young people. The Trust has a mandate of ‘helping people to help themselves’ and focuses on early intervention, empowering women with children, and supporting education, personal development and training for employment. Australian Philanthropy’s editor Louise Arkles spoke with Andrew and Nicola in February 2012 about how their philanthropy has developed over the past decade, and their ideas for growing the philanthropic pie.
By James Boyd
How collective giving, a growing phenomenon in the US, can help inform philanthropy, potentially enriching the lives of all Australians – and how WA is set to make a big impact.
Our previous issue, Indigenous philanthropy (Issue 80, December 2011) is now available for Members to download from the PhilanthropyWiki here.
Categories: statistics, finance, research & information, general
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The ATO has released Taxation Statistics 2009-10. The figures show that while the number of Australians claiming a tax deduction for charitable giving increased in the 09-10 year there was a significant decrease in the amount given.
Some of the highlights include:
- Individuals claimed tax deductible gifts totalling $1,962 million, a decrease of 6.3%
- The number of private ancillary funds (PAFs) has increased to 955 (as of 31 October 2011)
- Giving by PAFs has increased to a total of $197 million in 09/10, an increase of 28.8%
- PAFs now have $2.2 billion in funds under management
- Workplace giving stats are included for the first time and show total workplace giving for 09/10 at $23 million
The full report and the detailed tables are available to download from the ATO website.
Categories: guest post, knowledgebank, recommended reading, research & information
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This post written by David Hardie, Project Manager of the Foundation Project from November 2011 to April 2012.
An issue attracting increasing attention amongst grantmakers is how their application and reporting processes impact on grantseekers. In recent years, high profile initiatives such as the US Project Streamline have highlighted how grantmakers can develop more efficient processes. Now a group of Australian Trusts and Foundations have come together to see what they can do to reduce the administrative burden on grantseekers.
The Foundation Project is an initiative sponsored by the Vincent Fairfax Family Foundation on behalf of the following organisations:
• Helen Macpherson Smith Trust
• The Myer Foundation and Sidney Myer Fund
• The Ian Potter Foundation
• The RE Ross Trust
• Philanthropy Australia
• Queensland University of Technology – Australian Centre for Philanthropy and Nonprofit Studies.
The purpose of the project is to support the work of the Australian not for profit sector by examining opportunities for coordinating the application and reporting processes for small grants (<$25,000) of philanthropic organisations.
The key outputs from The Foundation Project are a set of core principles for grant application and reporting information and a common application form and acquittal report for small grants.
I led the project from November 2011 to April 2012 and really enjoyed being part of a real life example of collaboration in philanthropy. One of my favourite aspects of the project was how a number of our leading Trusts and Foundations came together to take a look at their own processes and use their extensive collective knowledge to develop some new grantmaking tools.
The initial focus of the project was to see what could be learnt from related initiatives such as Project Streamline. The current grant application and reporting processes of the participating Trusts and Foundations were also analysed and this identified many common attributes in current small grants application and reporting processes. It also highlighted the opportunity that exists to develop common forms for small grants, as well as the barriers to their widespread adoption. Also identified was the need to establish a set of core principles to guide ongoing decisions on the information required for grants application and reporting. We felt that it was important that a set of principles was developed to provide ongoing guidance for grantmakers on how, why and what information should be requested from grantseekers.
The participating Trusts and Foundations endorsed the following core principles for grant application and reporting information:
Philanthropy acknowledges that its contribution to the community is primarily through the work of the not for profit sector and we will strive to minimise the administrative burden of grantmaking on not for profit and related organisations. Accordingly:
• Information will be requested only if it will be used
• The effort expended in application and reporting processes will be proportional to the size and risk of the grant
• Duplicate information requests will be minimised
• Terminology will be defined and standardised in order to limit the variability in information requested
• Joint reporting will be established for projects that are collaboratively co-funded.
These principles then informed the subsequent development of the common small grants application form and common small grants acquittal report. The forms were reviewed by community sector organisations, fundraising consultancies and other philanthropic organisations prior to their endorsement by the project team.
The common forms can be found here: http://www.philanthropy.org.au/tools/
It’s important to remember that the development of the forms is a step in an ongoing process. There will never be a perfect form and we’re very keen for grantmakers to pilot the common forms and provide feedback on how they are being used by grantseekers and grantmaking staff. We also hope that new players in philanthropy will benefit from this work. We think that what we’ve developed will be of real value to a variety of grantmakers, especially those new grantmakers who are yet to establish their own grantmaking systems.
The project team intends to periodically review the impact of the principles and the common forms. Further enhancements to the common forms should be anticipated as they are piloted from April to September 2012 and as their ongoing impact is assessed.
Grantmakers are encouraged to trial the common forms and to provide feedback on them to Philanthropy Australia. Master copies of the forms will continue to be available on the Philanthropy Australia website.
The Summary Report for the Foundation Project can be found here (PDF format). A more detailed project research paper has also been prepared as a Queensland University of Technology – Australian Centre for Philanthropy and Nonprofit Studies Working Paper and will shortly be available on the QUT ACPNS website.
David Hardie is a 2010 graduate of the QUT Graduate Certificate in Business (Philanthropy and Nonprofit Studies). He was the recipient of the 2010 Myer Foundation Internship and was the Project Manager of the Foundation Project from November 2011 to April 2012.
Categories: statistics, guest post, What's New, recommended reading, research & information, general
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This post written by Christopher Baker, Asia-Pacific Centre for Social Investment and Philanthropy
Just on 12 months ago, a campaign was launched under the banner of Include a Charity. This marked a significant development in the history of co-operation amongst charitable organisations in this country. The campaign now involves some 140 of Australia’s leading charities, urging Australians to leave a charitable bequest in their wills. While Australians take a pride in the way in which we contribute to charity collections and respond to natural disasters, very few of us have any understanding about how many of us leave a bequest in our wills. I suggest that many Australians would be surprised at just how few us do set aside anything from our estates for the charities we have often supported through out our lives.
To understand bequest giving it makes sense to look at general charitable giving during our lifetimes. The measurement of charitable giving in Australia however is not strong. The most comprehensive effort to gather quantitative information on giving in Australia was undertaken at the instigation of the Federal Government in 2004/2005. The resultant ‘Giving Australia’ Report (2005), estimated that in the twelve months to the end of January 2005, nearly 9 in 10 adult Australians (87%) had given money to at least one nonprofit organisation. It is this level of participation in charitable giving that resulted last year in the World Giving Index rating Australia amongst the most ‘giving’ countries in the world.
The World Giving Index does not look at bequests, so for the best available information on that we need to return to the ‘Giving Australia‘ Report whose own survey estimates that 58% of adults in this country have a will and that 7.5% of those have included a bequest in that will. This means less than 4.5% of adult Australians reported including a gift to charity on their death.
A similar pattern emerged from a study I undertook at Swinburne University of Technology which looked at some 1,800 Victorian probate files processed in 2006. (Probate is the legal process required for transfer of intestate and willed estate assets from the deceased to the beneficiaries, where required. About half of all estates require probate.) This study found that approximately 5% of the estates examined included a charitable bequest*.
While it is both fair and reasonable that individuals should look after the needs of their family first, there is a very big gap between 87% of us giving something to charity each year, and the 5% who then leave something to charity in our will. Most leave everything to family, and more specifically to the children. This seems to occur irrespective of need. One example illustrates this point very well. A Melbourne widow aged 91 left her rather large estate of $10m to her three children, aged 71, 69 and 65. The executor of the will was the son, a retired barrister from a very wealthy suburb. The circumstances of the two daughters were not addressed in the probate file. The estate was split evenly between the three children.
How an individual distributes their estate is of course a matter of personal choice. Nevertheless, in this example had the woman left 1% of her estate as a charitable bequest, the resultant one hundred thousand dollars could have been of considerable benefit for the charity or charities concerned and the impact on the children’s share would have been negligible. Had she left 10% of the estate as a charitable bequest, the benefit to the included charities would have been tenfold; and the share left to each of the children would have been reduced from approximately $3.3m each to $3.0m.
The Swinburne study and the example above indicate that most of us settle quite simply for the default option: leave everything to the kids. Of course people provide for their children, as they should. For many, there is also a capacity to allocate a small share of their estate to a charity or charities that they value and may have supported throughout their lives. Not everyone has the capacity to leave a bequest, but many do.
What a welcome initiative it has been to see so many Australian charities coming together on the ‘Include a Charity’ initiative. The focus of the campaign is inclusive; it is encouraging Australians not to give to charity at the expense of family, but simply to include something for charity where that is a feasible and reasonable option. Many charities depend heavily on gifted funds, both regular gifts and bequests. In practice charities are in competition with one another for our charitable dollars. It is therefore quite significant that more than one hundred charities have joined forces to encourage Australians first and foremost to at least consider including a charity in their will. The initiative is not about which charity to choose, but about taking the generosity we show during our lifetimes towards charities and to extending that generosity to including a charity in our wills. Attitudinal and associated behavioural change is neither quick nor easy to achieve. The ‘Include a Charity’ is a constructive and collaborative initiative and one to be lauded.
Dr Christopher Baker is a Research Fellow at the Asia-Pacific Centre for Social Investment and Philanthropy, in the Faculty of Business and Enterprise at Swinburne University of Technology. His current research interests include charitable giving from personal estates, diaspora giving patterns, and high net worth philanthropy. E: email@example.com
* Baker, C & Gilding, M (2012), ‘Inheritance in Australia: Family and charitable distributions from personal estates’, Australian Journal of Social Issues, vol. 46, no. 3, pp. 273-289.
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Philanthropy New Zealand has released Giving New Zealand 2011. The report estimates that New Zealanders gave NZ$2.67 billion to charitable and community causes in 2011, more than double the estimated amount given in the previous study, Giving New Zealand 2006. This includes giving by individuals, trusts and foundations, and business. It puts NZ giving at 1.35% of GDP, which is higher than Australia’s rate of 0.68%.
The report estimates that just over one third of total giving in NZ is from trusts and foundations, with statutory trusts providing over two thirds of this funding. Personal donations and bequests were the largest source of funding, at 58%, and business giving (excluding sponsorship) accounted for just 6% of total estimated giving. The report is quite detailed, with information about the geographic areas and the activities which attract the most support. It includes international comparisons as well as some analysis of the effects of government incentives to giving and how the February 2011 Christchurch earthquake impacted giving.
The full report can be downloaded from: http://philanthropy.org.nz/node/8305
Categories: stories, research & information, general
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Ask anyone not in the philanthropic sector to name Australia’s greatest philanthropists and the names they come up with will probably be along the lines of Andrew Forrest, Dick Smith or Richard Pratt. Most of these donors will have several things in common: they will tend to be very wealthy; they will be people who have attracted media attention for matters other than their philanthropy; and they will be men.
To commemorate this year’s International Women’s Day, we thought we would profile just two stories of Australian women’s philanthropy, one from the 19th century and one living philanthropist.
Very little is known about Louisa DaCosta, who arrived in Australia in 1840 from England with her brother Benjamin, who was also philanthropic. She only spent seven of her 91 years in Australia, but was clearly influenced by her experience here; while she returned to England in 1848, she continued to give to Australia - and particularly to South Australia - for the remaining fifty years of her life. On her death, the property she owned in South Australia was left for the establishment of a “Samaritan fund for convalescents”.
Today the Louisa DaCosta Trust provides financial assistance for people in need who are referred to the Trust by South Australian health care professionals, for unplanned illnesses and also for life long illnesses where Government support is not available. In the past five years, Louisa DaCosta’s legacy has provided over $1.4m in assisting public hospital patients in South Australia.
For more information: The Louisa DaCosta Trust
Fleur Spitzer’s father emigrated from Poland in the 1920s, and her Hungarian husband Vic arrived in Australia with his parents in 1939. Other relatives arrived from a racially divisive and war-torn Europe in the 1930s and 1940s, bringing stories of the injustices they faced there; coupled with the difficulties some of them faced in Australia, this increased Fleur’s awareness of the impact of racial discrimination, which later fed into her philanthropic work on behalf of refugees and asylum seekers.
Fleur was also involved in the women’s movement in the 1970s, and by 1990 she had developed a specific interest in the stereotypes and prejudices around women and ageing, seeing that the myths that older women were a drain on society were belied by the reality. Fleur established the Alma Unit for Women and Ageing at the University of Melbourne, a multidisciplinary research and teaching unit focusing on the health and well-being of women aged 65 years and over. While the Unit eventually folded, its influence has fed into work being carried out by other institutions including the healthy ageing unit at Monash University.
Fleur Spitzer’s other interests have included social justice and access to legal services. In 2003 she seed funded a pilot project, Access to Justice in the Modern Campaspe Region, to set up a community legal centre. Within two years, the State Government had offered ongoing funding for the centre.
What distinguishes Fleur Spitzer’s giving is that while the amounts given are not large in philanthropic terms, they are an example of how modest gifts, strategically directed, can provide a solid foundation which others can build on, and from which ongoing benefit can proceed.
Fleur Spitzer was awarded a Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) for service to women in the 1996 Queen’s Birthday Honours. She was recognised in particular for services to the ageing through the work of the Alma Unit.
For more information on Australian women philanthropists, a wonderful resource is In Her Gift: Women Philanthropists in Australian History.
For more information and to get involved in women’s philanthropy, here are some great resources.
- The Australian Women Donor’s Network is an education-focused not-for-profit organisation that advocates for gender-sensitive practice within the social investment and grant-making sector, and for a greater philanthropic investment in women and girls. Their website includes an online showcase of projects.
- The Victorian Women’s Trust is a Victorian foundation which invests in women & girls for positive social change, researches issues which affect their lives, creates opportunities that spark ideas, engagement & debate, advocates for reforms that improve conditions for women & girls, and make sure the public record better reflects their contribution and impact.
- The Sydney Women’s Fund, a sub-fund of the Sydney Community Foundation, brings together women who act as donors and activists. It aims to create and grow a wave of philanthropy to improve the lives of women and girls in Sydney by growing women’s philanthropy, increasing social change philanthropy in the community. identifying and promoting projects for investment, and serving as a voice for women and girls.
Philanthropy Australia’s free downloadable resources for getting involved in philanthropy include:
- A Guide to Giving for Australians, a plain-language guide to creating a giving statement as well as structures and options for giving.
- The Trustee Handbook, a guide to the legal duties and suggested best practice for the trustees of charitable trusts
- An Introductory Guide to Grantmaking, a plain language introduction for new workers in philanthropic grantmaking
You may also be interested in our workshops and seminars.
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