An article I wrote on community foundations has just been published in the new online philanthropy journal – generositymag.com.au.
Have a look here:
An article I wrote on community foundations has just been published in the new online philanthropy journal – generositymag.com.au.
Have a look here:
Foundation Barossa (in South Australia) is hosting this year’s Australian Community Foundations Forum. Presented in conjunction with Philanthropy Australia and FRRR, this annual event brings together community foundations from around the country to network, share their experiences and benefit from an exchange of ideas.
The first day of this two and a half day event started with the AGM for Australian Community Philanthropy at which your correspondent joined the Board, along with Dylan Smith from the Fremantle Foundation.
The forum proper started with the presentation of new videos which have been commissioned by the Office for the Community Sector in Victoria (under the Department of Human Services, but previously Planning and Community Development), highlighting the role and scope of community foundations. Twelve community foundations received funding between 2009 and 2012, in the form of a challenge grant of $100,000 which when matched by the local community, then saw an additional $200,000 from the state government. The videos have been put together with the community foundations who participated in the program, to describe the role of community foundations, how to set them up, fundraising and grantmaking.
It’s a lovely way of showing what community foundations can do and saying in our* own words who we are. It also provides some ideas as to what works for various community foundations in terms of fundraising. The eight videos will be coming soon to the Office for the Community Sector website, and will be shared with the foundations which took part (watch this space).
The Tomorrow: Today Foundation provided an update on their ongoing Education Benalla Project.
Forum favourite, Alice Macdougall from Herbert Smith Freehills gave a run down on where the ACNC and the Charities Act 2013 are up to given the recent change in government and the new government’s commitment to dismantle the ACNC (as flagged in my post same time last year). Alice’s view is that the ACNC is ultimately good for the not for profit sector, will reduce duplication in reporting requirements and provides a good source of information for community groups, and good information and fact sheets.
While the Charities Act 2o13 is yet to come into effect, the key changes it has brought about include the ability for aboriginal groups to obtain charitable status where they had previously been excluded due to requirements they needed to meet for Native Title in terms of familial ties. The Act also expands disaster relief to cover community assets which may not in of themselves been considered charitable in themselves. (Read the Act for more information and clarification on this).
Alice suggests that actions we can all take to support the ACNC and the Charities Act:
1) Lobby your federal government representatives
2) Lobby to promote the simplification of rules for community foundations – and the idea of them having DGR 1 instead of DGR2 (which would make it possible for Private Ancillary Funds and other larger foundations to donate to community foundations)
3) Lobby for Private Ancillary Funds to wind up and be able to pass their assets onto Public Ancillary Funds and make grants to Public Ancillary Funds.
Key government personnel to pester on these include Kevin Andrews, Minister for Social Services, and Arthur Sinodinis, Assistant Treasurer.
Alice noted that the new government will be reinstating the Prime Minister’s Community Business Partnership, and that this will be a good thing for the community foundation. sector. We look forward to Alice’s talk tomorrow on the Effect of the Charities Act on grantmaking and converting to ITEF (fees, sport and governance), for our annual dose of legal compliance related matters.
Some light relief after Alice’s talk followed when I presented on why it was wonderful to do the Senior International Fellowship in Philanthropy, and encouraged all my colleagues to apply.
This was followed by a quick briefing from the new Development Officer for Australian Community Philanthropy, Louise Arkles, who will be undertaking a project to map all of the community foundations in Australia, explore some of the success stories, promote the concept of community foundations, and develop an understanding of the international context for the community foundations movement (a big ask for a two day a week role).
The day concluded with a presentation from Julie Reilly of the Australian Women Donors Network and distribution of their publication, Genderwise Philanthropy: Strengthening Society by Investing in Women and Girls.
All up, a lot of ground covered, and a lot more to come, with an early morning start for a business breakfast so it’s time for me to sign off.
Are you attending the forum in Nuriootpa? What are your thoughts thus far?
If you haven’t been able to attend, do you have some views on any of these topics – I’d love you to share them with us.
* use of the personal pronoun here as the Inner North Community Foundation participated in both the funding challenge and the videos.
The Maimonides Society talks presented by the Swinburne Philanthropy Alumni, hosted Catherine Brown, the CEO of the Lord Mayor’s Charitable Foundation.
Catherine reflected on her career working in and with community foundations since 1999 when the Myer Foundation came up with the idea for a foundation for rural Australia and for philanthropy to engage community in rural development. Based on some work undertaken by the Ford Foundation and the Aspen Institute, Catherine worked to set up the Foundation for Rural and Regional Renewal (known as FRRR) and to work with rural communities assisting them to set up their own community foundations.
Catherine drew attention to several publications, tools and studies, such as the community foundation kit based on a Canadian model, Diana Leat’s Development of Community Foundations in Australia: Recreating the American Dream, and resources provided by the CS Mott Foundation which has been instrumental in the development of community foundations around the world.
Catherine gave examples of some of the rural community foundations she has worked with and the different models that can be adopted – either with an endowment focus or a community development focus. She noted that community foundations are not yet well understood in Australia, but that they are part of a global movement which has been developing for a century, since the establishment of the first community foundation in Cleveland in 1914.
Catherine believes that community foundations are more stable where there are denser populations and that they adapt to the culture of their own countries. Key characteristics of community foundations as defined by WINGS (WorldWide Initiatives for Grantmaker Support) are that they are flexible, engage civil society, use their own money and assets and are values based. (Also see Eleanor Sacks Current Issues for the Global Community Foundation Movement).
According to Catherine, the time for community foundations in Australia is still coming and will strengthen. (While she mentioned several rural foundations and the Lord Mayor’s Charitable Foundation, there was little mention of the other urban community foundations, such as the Australian Communities Foundation, Sydney Community Foundation, Inner North Community Foundation and the Fremantle Community Foundation which are working on building endowment and grantmaking. I found this interesting as Catherine had consulted with at least one of these assisting in its establishment).
Catherine noted the Lord Mayor’s Charitable Foundation’s support of other organisations promoting philanthropy and grantmaking, such as Australian Community Philanthropy, the Australian Women Donors Network and the Australian Environmental Grantmakers Network, and of having the funds available to look at social investment. She anticipated a new financing model for the Lord Mayor’s Charitable Foundation.
She spoke briefly about how the Lord Mayor’s Charitable Fund (which has been going for 90 years and has a corpus of $170 million) is focusing on affordable housing, youth, ageing in a multicultural community and food security, as well as working with Greek, Italian and Chinese communities, refugees, pathways to education and employment and youth philanthropy in schools.
What do you think about the potential for community foundations in Australia? (I have strong views on this as it is my professional area, but I would love to hear your thoughts).
Just a shout out to my colleague, Myra Virgil, who went through the Senior International Fellows Program with me last month – congratulations on your story highlighting the establishment of the Bermuda Community Foundation in the Royal Gazetteonline.
The article is by blogger and writer Jessie Moniz who has graciously granted me permission to give you a teaser. Thanks also to editor, Jeremy Deacon.
“Dr Myra Virgil is using lessons learned from a prestigious American grantmaking fellowship to create an organisation that will provide an enduring source of funds for local charities — many of whom are currently locked into a life or death struggle for survival due to the current economic climate.
Once upon a time there was a community foundation dedicated to a large vibrant and bustling city (let’s call it Gotham). Its focus was on supporting the wishes of donors in their philanthropic goals through donor advised funds (donors advise where they would like their gifts to go). The community foundation was established 90 years ago, and over time had accumulated large assets, all the while supporting the intentions and interests of their many donors.
The city also grew, and in time, one of its boroughs was in itself large enough in population, that in any other situation it could have been considered a city itself (yet it remained a borough, one of five).
People in the borough felt that they needed more specific support for their community, and that they had a particular identity of their own, their own community spirit, and a desire to focus their work within their own geographic boundaries, and to have more say and direction in where philanthropic funds were being directed. So, just a few years ago they set up their own community foundation, but instead of just putting funds where the donors told them to, they set up “fields of interest”funds like Arts for All,Caring Neighbors, Community Development, Education & Youth Achievement, and Green Communities after exploring where the needs of the community actually lay, and invited donors to contribute specifically to these areas.
One of the questions which has been the source of recent impassioned discussion , has been about what the role of philanthropic organisations, particularly community foundations, really is.
Should donors who have money be able to dictate what social needs should be addressed, simply because they have money? Does this give them more authority in determining the future direction of our communities? As one of my colleagues says, donors are not elected, they do not have a mandate to create policy, so how is it that they can wield such power over our communities? (even if this is for the perceived good of the community).
Or should the community and community need be the driving force for philanthropy – in that the needs and problems should be identified first, and then the means to address and resolve them?
Bernadino Casadei from the Italian Association of Foundations believes that people have a moral imperative to give and that this is what makes one human, and that his role is to facilitate philanthropy, while remaining neutral in the distribution of philanthropic largesse.
Another view is that the needs of the community must be paramount, and the absolute starting point for any discussion about giving and philanthropy.
This is all particularly interesting for me, as the community foundation where I work started with an idea around community need (particularly employment), while our next door neighbour community foundation, has a donor focussed approach, highlighting parallels between the fable this post started out with (albeit on a much smaller scale).
Is one approach better than the other? What is the role of philanthropy? How can we balance two seemingly diametrically opposed starting points in order to work better, and perhaps more collaboratively?
This is of course, just a simple exploratory exposition of some of the ideas flowing around me at the moment, which will require deeper reading, discussion and thought.
It would be great to hear your thoughts on this, as it seems to speak to a key question of what is the role of philanthropy, particularly in a community foundations setting.
tbc . . . .
A little quiet lately as about to embark on some professional development at the City University of New York’s Graduate Center, Center for Philanthropy and Civil Society. They run a Senior (as in old(er)) International Fellows Program for people in the community foundations sector and take only 6 or 7 participants each year (all from outside the US), so I will be joined by colleagues with vast and varied experience from Bermuda, Italy, Czech Republic, South Africa, India and New Zealand.
It’s four weeks of seminars, site visits to not for profits and philanthropic leaders here, as well as the development of a paper which will hopefully be relevant and useful to our own organisations. I’ll keep you posted.
In the meantime – there are a couple of things happening you should try to get along to – such as Kevin Murphy (who will be the keynote speaker at the Philanthropy Australia AGM on 16 April) – from the Council on Foundations and president of the Berks County Community Foundation, but will also be speaking at an event hosted by the Australian Communities Foundation at Macquarie 101 Collins Street Melbourne on 16 April at 6pm, on Global Giving and the Australian Leadership Challenge:Global Trends, Local Challenges, Better Giving – together with another international guest speaker Roberta d’Eustachio of Ambassadors for Philanthropy, Hosted by Simon McKeon AO, Executive Chairman, Macquarie Group, Melbourne. RSVP to Australian Communities Foundation.
Another event which may be of interest is being hosted by the Lord Mayor’s Charitable Foundation in early May and of course, not being at my desk -I don’t have the details on me. It’s not the Lady Mayoress’ Garden Party – so if you think you want to find out more, give them a hoy to ask about it (even if I suspect it might be invitation only).
That’s all for now,
Let me know if things are coming up which might be of interest to others and I will endeavour to record them.