Research and Practice at ANZTSR


By Alexandra Williamson and Sharon Nathani

ANZTSR

Research:
Ozphilanthropy and I recently attended the ANZTSR Conference in Sydney.  What the blazes is that? we hear you asking – it’s the Australia New Zealand Third Sector Research conference (as no one has yet decided on a definitive name for civil society, the voluntary sector, the nonprofit sector or the third sector).

We note that there is often a shared frustration at the lack of bridges between academia and practitioners, so we thought we would present what we saw in an attempt to address this.

Of course, there is much more depth and diversity to third sector research than is hinted at here.  The benefits of conferences such as ANZTSR are that they can lead to better research, through critique, sharing of expertise, and building relationships and collaborations.

For example, a small-scale pilot study by researchers at Murdoch University in WA around whether charity board members are paid was prompted by an ACNC guide released in July 2017.  Following discussions at the ANZTSR conference, the researcher is considering an expanded multi-state study for 2019, with the possibility of including philanthropic foundations in the data collection which would provide baseline data for the philanthropic sector for the first time on charitable and philanthropic board remuneration.

Local conferences give PhD students and early-career philanthropy researchers a chance to meet and have informal conversations with mentors and senior academics in their fields.   This is important given as so much philanthropy research comes from the U.S. where the culture, regulation and structures around giving are significantly different, and findings may not be relevant or need translation.

Here is a brief overview of each of the papers presented that were specific to philanthropy/foundations:

Elizabeth Cham University of Technology Sydney
What contemporary philanthropists think about public accountability for their philanthropy?
Elizabeth Cham Elizabeth is known to many of us for her former role with Philanthropy Australia.  Elizabeth analysed the 114 submissions to Treasury in 2008-2009 responding to the Discussion Paper on Private Ancillary Funds (PAFs) and examined the Commonwealth Budget Papers for 2001-2009 as a case study of public accountability.  Elizabeth writes about how powerful groups circulate and promote their own values and norms so that they become the “common sense” values of a society.  This is based on an academic theory by Gramsci who was an Italian philosopher and communist, imprisoned for many years under Mussolini.

Matthew Hall, Monash University
Donors’ views on charities and role of accounting information in donation decisions

Matthew Hall Matt’s research examines the importance of accounting information about charitable organisations when people make decisions about donations.  He conducted 20 interviews with small donors, using vignettes about a fictional charity to see how their donation decisions changed when the amount and content of the information available to them changed.  His research found that donors do not act like investors but prefer to give to charities that they are familiar with and that they trust.  There was a reinforcement of the importance of narrative and story-telling in influencing and connecting with donors.

From Ms Ozphilanthropy herself, currently at Swinburne University of Technology
Private Ancillary Funds supporting arts: networks, decision-making and discretion

Sharon Nathani Sharon’s PhD research aims to look into the grantmaking decisions of PAFs (and the broader philanthropy network), in particular in relation to supporting arts and culture.  She will use a social network analysis approach drawing on interviews and data available in public reports and documents to explore whether PAFs use advice and recommendations from networks of peers, mentors, professional advisers, and regulators.

Hopefully mapping the networks of PAFs will demystify their role in arts and cultural funding in Australia.

Krystian Seibert, Swinburne University of Technology
Regulation of community foundations in Australia: change is needed, but there are challenges on the road to reform

Krystian Seibert Community foundations are restricted in their work by complex tax and regulatory structures.  Krystian’s research examines the idea a separate, dedicated deductible gift recipient (DGR) category for Australia’s 38 community foundations, and the tax integrity issues this might raise.  At the moment PAFs can not give to PubAFs and grantmaking of community foundations is limited to certain organisation types.  This can create problems in regional areas where there are not enough currently eligible recipient organisations.

Alexandra Williamson, Queensland University of Technology
Accountability and identity in dyadic Public Ancillary Funds

AlexandraWilliamson.jpg Alexandra’s PhD research on accountability in Public Ancillary Funds (PubAFs) such as community and corporate foundations led to the unexpected finding that 19 in a small sample of 28 existed in dyadic or two-way relationships, or strong, long-term, near-exclusive partnerships with another organisation.

In interviews, managers and trustees of PubAFs characterised these dyadic relationships both negatively (as restrictive) and positively (as supportive).  In both cases, dyadic partnerships dominate the accountability and identity of the PubAFs that work within them.

How do you connect with research?  Does it make a difference for your organisation?

Practice:
The conference also included a lively panel on the Impact and Engagement of Family Foundations featuring Sarah Benjamin from the Keir Foundation with a focus on the arts, John McKinnon from the McKinnon Family Foundation supporting climate change, and Mary Crooks from the Victorian Womens Trust.

Sarah Benjamin   Sarah’s key message was that funds go further when leveraged with other organisations or presented as matched funding.  Her foundation was keen to invest in underfunded areas such as dance, and to collaborate with other organisations to extend the life of the works created, so they have created the Keir Choreographic Awards in partnership with Dancehouse in Melbourne and Carriageworks in Sydney.  The funds they contribute are matched by the Australia Council and the program enables choreographers from overseas to come to Australia as jurors which in turn introduces Australian dancers and choreographers to overseas audiences.

Sarah talked about the benefits of having a small family foundation as being that they are not risk averse, have zero overhead costs and can partner with other organisations and cover administration costs if necessary.  They can be quick to act, flexible and enjoy providing multi-year funding.

John McKinnon John agreed with her that you can create big impact with small budgets if you choose wisely.  His foundation has no website and doesn’t take unsolicited grants, and intends to spend down within one generation.  He sees their role as being an agent of change and the role of philanthropy as being uniquely placed to challenge power.  Gifts with no strings attached are rare and he prefers to preserve their grant capital by providing loans where feasible and to grant where others can’t (or won’t) – often in relation to advocacy.  He says “charity can move millions, advocacy can move billions

Like the Keir Foundation the McKinnon Foundation doesn’t just give and forget but likes to be involved with the boards of some of the organisations they grant to and facilitate introductions and bringing the right parties together.

MaryCrooksMary Crooks spoke about the formation of the Victorian Womens’ Trust (VWT) with a $1 million investment from the government and how they became an independent entity in 1992.  Her organisation is enmeshed within the not-for-profit sector as advocates, researchers and participants as well as grant-makers.  They run a sub-fund model for a variety of purposes and are working to make their grant-making for women sustainable.  Mary talked about several VWT projects such as Koorie Women Mean Business, Club Respect, Credit Where Credit is Due, Who Gets the Farm?as well as the “gift that keeps on giving” – the Purple Sage project which developed their Kitchen Table Conversations which were utilised in the Voices4Indi campaign.

Academia and practice can come together for dynamic and strong conversations.  What do you think about how we can work to improve the flow of information between them?

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“Splash in the shallows” – family foundations testing the waters


Snow foundation

I am fascinated by private ancillary funds (PAFs) which are generally family foundations, so was very pleased to attend the Philanthropy Australia conference‘s session which highlighted the experiences of four family foundations at various stages of maturity, expertise and development.

Four panellists talked about how their foundations started, how they make decisions, operate and network – and highlighted the importance of the experience for their family and the personal satisfaction they get from having set up this giving structure.

The newest foundation discussed how the idea of a PAF had been suggested to them at a function four years ago, and was then brought up by their financial adviser six months after that.  Now, they are 18 months into their giving journey and have found a way to connect their family in the future and provide education outside the standard education system.  A key driver for them was their accountant, finding a mentor  (Stacey Thomas – who many years ago while  with the Potter Foundation ran an informal philanthropy pop quiz), and being introduced to collaborative giving and the network of philanthropy through the Impact100 giving circle in their state.

The oldest family foundation represented on the panel was set up 27 years ago, while the two relatively “intermediary ones” are comprised of people who describe themselves as always having been givers.

One was inspired by an article by Chris Cuffe, and decided they wanted to perpetuate their giving in a structured way which would involve both their children and extended family.  They employed someone else to do the setting up and compliance of the PAF and now focus on grantmaking and engaging with recipients, particularly around music education in disadvantaged schools.

The other “intermediary” PAF was set up in about 2005.  Their previous giving had been generous but ad hoc and tended to be reactive.  As their giving grew they knew they needed to be smarter about what they were doing, so again – having seen an article on Prescribed Private Funds (as they were at the time), they spoke to some key people in the field – Peter Winneke (who then was head of philanthropy at the then Myer Family Company), and John Emerson, one of the leading experts on tax/charitable law in Australia.

What struck me this early on in the conversation was the influence of mentors and people active in philanthropy encouraging others to participate, think more deeply and get more involved.  But I digress . . .

The impetus for setting up the family foundation or PAF was that both husband and wife had individual interests for their giving, but were both very keen to support the arts, environment and indigenous issues.  They felt that a structure might help them to be more clever givers – but this didn’t happen immediately – it evolved over time.

It seems that scattergun giving – or what one of the panel members called the “sunscreen” approach – putting it everywhere is one way of getting started before learning how to pull one’s interests together and to go deeper while still honouring the family’s interests (or the interests of the founder).

For one of the panellists, the turning point was meeting with Philanthropy Australia, Sue-Ann Wallace at the Vincent Fairfax Family Foundation, and getting advice from Louise Walsh at (then) Artsupport. Again I am struck by the networks developed and the openness of people sharing their experiences and expertise. The panel reiterated the importance of finding key people in the field – even to the extent of inviting some to join their boards.

Founders of family foundations are keen to encourage the next generation to be philanthropic and for their family members to understand the responsibilities which go with running a foundation.  They recognise that they hold a limited amount of social capital, and want to drive their dollars as far as they can while also being able to respond quickly to funding opportunities.  Some don’t want to push their kids into it – as long as they are involved in giving at their own level.  One panellist was firmly of the view that their children should not be giving away “family money” before they have earned some of their own.

The level of structure and bureaucracy within family foundations and PAFs varies.  While there are the key elements of administration/compliance, investment and grantmaking, structure and flexibility both have their own appeal.  Some have very formal board meetings, others have Sunday afternoon chats or just meet to sign off on the annual accounts.

All the panellists talked about contributing more than dollars, by volunteering, and participating in experiences which enhance their understanding of the organisations and causes they choose to support. Many are  involved at board level with nonprofit organisations which further informs their giving and has led to a greater understanding of the need to fund operations or even infrastructure as opposed to projects.

They all talked about enjoying the collaborative nature of what they do and bringing other philanthropists and peers with them to leverage and grow their support.  Several work closely with Philanthropy Australia to find others interested in the areas they support.  Working with others also often alleviates some of the issues around due diligence – where foundations with staff can do some of the initial exploration of potential grantees.

A brief discussion of failures ensued – this was around jumping into areas or projects which were too complex,- rushing to distribute grants in a hurry before 30 June, or not having the dedication/commitment of a management team of a beneficiary organisation despite the eagerness of the project manager.

The panellists described their mission as:

  • more and better philanthropy
  • investing, empowering, educating (especially for their own children)
  • acknowledging that everyone can be a philanthropist because humans are kind.

While not all of the panellists are comfortable about being public with their giving (which is why I have not overtly named them here but you can see who they are in the conference program), they all believe in the importance of leadership and demonstrating what they are doing to bring more people along with them.  Some of them also noted that their philanthropy is more than them – they have a team of advisers, experts and mentors helping them.

Key tips for starting out are:

  • invest most in backing good leaders
  • make a start and be open minded
  • look for mentors
  • develop relationships with the people you fund
  • love learning
  • be curious (this deepens engagement and leads to better decisions)
  • collaborate
  • collaborate long-term.

Several questions from the floor covered whether the families were explicit about what they wanted to support when they set up, whether they do multi-year funding, why they chose the PAF structure rather than a sub-fund in a Public Ancillary Fund (PuAF), what expectations they have of the organisations they fund, and whether they felt PAFs should be able to give to PuAFs.

What do you think?  Might a family foundation/PAF be the right structure for your future giving?

 

ozphilanthropy was a guest of Philanthropy Australia at Day 1 of their 2018 conference.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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ISTR not the Ishtar Conference


istr

Guest post by Alexandra Williamson

The International Society for Third-sector Research known as ISTR or “I Star” – (editor’s note: which sounds to us at ozphilanthropy like Ishtar, goddess of love, fertility and sometimes community) is an international membership association of researchers, academics, pracademics and educators.  It covers philanthropy, civil society and the nonprofit sector with a focus on Europe and developing nations.  The other main international association in the nonprofit space is ARNOVA, the Association for Research on Nonprofit Organisations and Voluntary Action based in the USA. Both hold international conferences and publish academic journals on nonprofit research.

ISTR’s 13th International Conference took place in Amsterdam.  Being co-chaired by Ruth Phillips from the University of Sydney there was a strong Australian connection.  The conference theme was “Democracy and Legitimacy”.  As with any conference, there was an over-abundance of parallel sessions so the highlights below should be seen as a ‘tasting menu’ of what was on offer.

I was lucky to attend the conference and the PhD student seminar that preceded it.  These strengthened my belief that there is excellent and very topical research being done across the world into the diverse and fascinating field of the Third Sector, charities and nonprofits.

Networks and social network mapping

Networks are often providers of services to clients or beneficiaries, so researchers can use the network as the unit of analysis in research, rather than examining organisations, institutions or individuals.  Some questions which came up included: “From a philanthropic perspective, how could funders provide resources to a network rather than an organisation?”  “Could funders accept grant applications from networks?”  New jargon alert – to “un-bubble” or to stop considering organisations as standing alone (either foundations or their beneficiary organisations).

Hybridisation

Hybridisation refers to organisations such as social enterprises or collectives which blur the lines between for-profit and not-for-profit.  Does this blurring result in instability and loss of collective identity?  Hybrid organisations must deal with the increasing complexity that results from multiple logics.  What does that look like for those organisations?  How does it affect their identity?  One presenter took this further, calling individuals ‘hyborgs’.  It’s not just nonprofit organisations that are dealing with multiple different expectations, it’s the people who work in nonprofits too.

Food security

Food security is an emerging area for the third sector, particularly with small, grass-roots civil society organisations operating in a very local, place-based context.  Voluntas (ISTR’s academic journal) has a forthcoming special issue on food security and FoodBanks.   Nonprofit organisations working to address food security are a long-term favourite of philanthropic funders both in Australia and internationally and are increasing their visibility and presence globally.

gerry-salole

Gerry Salole

Foundations
Gerry Salole, Chief Executive of the European Foundation Centre, played a role as ‘devil’s advocate’ on a panel, making provocative remarks about challenges facing structured philanthropy such as:
i) we need to expand our definition of what philanthropy is to encompass things not captured in Western/US definitions. There is a trend for the wealthy to find new forms for wealth distribution beyond traditional foundation structures

 

ii) we are counting stuff that doesn’t matter and making a religion of it. If by counting you understand less, then it is both harmful and a waste

iii) as foundation funders, we count proxies for things to measure, and then we think we are answering the question about what impact we are having

iv) we are comfortable talking about where the money comes from, how much of it there is, and what we do with it. But – we don’t talk about who is making the decisions, and how they are accountable. We don’t ask how many foundations are governed by fewer than four people, or how many foundations have divested from oil?

v) another presenter spoke of foundations ‘grooming’ nonprofit organisations to carry out foundations’ chosen purposes or activities on their behalf.  This made me feel particularly uncomfortable.

Place-based, community philanthropy

Often the purview of community foundations, place-based giving was described as an ‘extended family’ with members including self-organised grassroots groups with no formal structure, citizen initiatives, place-based collectives, and participatory alliances. Presenters noted that practice is well ahead of scholarship in this field where giving is collective rather than individualistic, and key themes are vitality and commotion – rather opposed to traditional philanthropic institutions!

And a final, overarching question from the conference:

Can we convince people that data is accurate, and that it matters?  And if it’s possible, how should we best go about it?

What are your thoughts?

AlexWilliamson

Alexandra Williamson is a final year PhD student at the Australian Centre for Philanthropy and Nonprofit Studies at Queensland University of Technology in Brisbane.  She is the recipient of an APA (Australian Postgraduate Award) PhD Scholarship from the Australian Government.  Her PhD research examines the accountability of Public Ancillary Funds.  Alex’s publications can be found at QUT’s ePrints digital repository.   Connect: ak.williamson@connect.qut.edu.au

 

 

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Charity Fundraising in the 21st Century


Senate-Chamber_001There is a new Senate inquiry into Charity Fundraising in the 21st Century.  Submissions close on 6 August and the committee is to report on or before 18 October 2018.

This caught my eye because one of the terms of reference refers to:

the appropriate donor-focused expectations and requirements that should govern fundraising regulation in the 21st century“.

What do you think about charities incorporating donor expectations into their fundraising practices? On the one hand this seems self-evident, but then sounds like an oxymoron unless we get into distracting arguments about costs of admin.

It will be interesting to see what comes up in this inquiry – what do you think about yet another exploration of how the sector is travelling and the myriad forms of reporting charities face?

 

PS: ozphilanthropy’s author is currently enrolled in a PhD as a provisional candidate at Swinburne supported by an Australian Government Research Training Program Scholarship.
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Civil Society, Digital Democracy?


Perpetual

Lucy Bernholz, Vanessa Teague and Adam Jacoby (photo: Adrienne O’Dell)

Perpetual has hosted its third installment of discussions and workshops with Stanford PACS (Centre on Philanthropy and Civil Society) with a session entitled Civil Society in an Age of Digital Democracy.

Lucy Bernholz partly deconstructed the title of the session as follows:
civil society is all the ways we come together as individuals to benefit other people
digital is that thing most of us don’t understand but are now completely dependent upon with our mobile phones and email.  We are trapped in a completely designed space which serves the purpose of organisations who sell us technology and applications.  We are overdependent on the digital environment, and cannot separate civil society from the market or government.

“We thought digital and the internet was going to be democratizing – Oh, how we’ve changed”, said Lucy.  The question for discussion was “how can we make democracy thrive in an age of these interdependencies?”

Lucy introduced Vanessa Teague from the University of Melbourne who explores how we can run elections in a secure way so that people can’t fiddle with the outcomes.

Athenian Secret Ballot

Athenian voting discs (Wikimedia Commons)

Vanessa talked about the history of voting with transparency of ballots going back to the Athenians in 300 BC and the use of carefully designed ballot boxes and prepared papers to secure the integrity of votes.

Modern elections now use software to code and count votes.  However, is this valid? Vanessa gave a fascinating introduction into how online voting is supposed to work – and how it doesn’t.  She and her colleagues discovered a bug in the software implemented in New South Wales in the 2015 election.  The verification process for checking and confirming people’s votes was shown to be fallible and the system was not designed to make failure evident or visible.  (No one discussed the hanging chad).

Adam Jacoby, more directly addressed the democracy part of the topic. Adam asked:
1) Is there an ideology that can provide a solution for every problem?
2) Does government provide access equally for everyone?
3) Does government enact the will of the people?

Adam believes that if we answer no to more than one of these questions then we are not in a true democracy. His organisation, MiVote, has created a model where every citizen can have a say through a platform in the blockchain space.  It is designed as a democratic ecosystem which runs votes to gauge sentiment on various issues.  They do not ask binary yes/no questions and believe in providing information statements that voters must read before casting their vote.

MiVote does not adopt any policy positions unless there is at least a 60% consensus on an issue.  Information provided to their voters is based on fact and usually third party peer reviewed papers.

Questions from the floor raised some interesting points:

Why now? – there is a role for technology in enabling people to be better educated.  This is an accessible model which can address “fake news” and echo chambers.  Technology can play a role in making voices heard and ensuring equality.  The idea of a voice and having agency is very desirable in many places (MiVote recently launched chapters in India and has seen large take up there).

What’s the business case for online voting? No strong rationale yet apart from access for people with disabilities or vision impairment.

How do people with power respond to MiVote (ie Alan Jones)? Some people with power are concerned, but the media does have a role to play.  Voting should be based on fact.  A US billionaire who loves the idea of MiVote declined to support it because it could lead to the loss of his own access to power and personal influence.

How can you make sure people read the information (terms & conditions)? The site is showing people are spending enough time reading and some click further to the source material.

If there were mass adoption of this kind of model it is a sentiment check and nonbinding on legislature.  How can the legislation reflect the sentiment? The answer to this focussed on the security issues which will still apply, especially as influence of this model increases.

How does it work if politicians ignore the sentiment expressed? If sentiment is made more transparent it becomes harder to ignore.  The platform allows any individual to run as a MiVote independent candidate as long as they sign on to seventeen behaviours (and agree to a hefty damages claim for any breach of conduct).

Some in the audience were left shaking their heads confused as to the connection of the topic with philanthropy, but I found it a thought provoking and stimulating discussion.  If philanthropy is truly to have social impact, philanthropists need to understand our social and political environment in order to be able to create positive outcomes.

What are your thoughts on new technologies and the democratic process?

 

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Have we travelled far?


ContempArtI have just been reading Contemporary Art + Philanthropy, Public Spaces/Private Funding: Foundations for Contemporary Art  as I revisit the nexus (is there one?) between philanthropy, tax policy and arts policy.

This monograph was created to record a forum held by the Sherman Contemporary Art Foundation in 2007, and has a chapter by Rupert Myer (now Chair of the Australia Council) which I find still extremely relevant today.  So I asked myself – has much changed?

The chapter is called “The Austalian Art of Giving: Having Found the Way, Have We Lost the Will?”.  The focus of the forum was on private foundations supporting the arts, and this appeals to me as my current interest is Private Ancillary Funds and how they support the arts (who do they give to and what motivates them?).

The chapter begins with a reference to the long history of giving and patronage of the arts in the US (as we always seem to need to have a point of comparison), and reminds us of the importance not just of support by gifting works of art, but by funding positions for curators, professorships and departments to support the careers of contemporary artists.

We are then reminded of the generosity of Alfred Felton, and what has developed at National Gallery of Victoria through his bequest, and several other large gifts to the arts in Australian history including the Elder Conservatorium, the Power Bequest giving rise to the Museum of Contemporary Art, and support for regional galleries.

This contradicts the view that there is no culture of giving in Australia  – and yet, eleven years later, we are still hearing that philanthropy is in its infancy here, and we need strong leadership to model by example.

The Giving Australia 2005 report, which has recently been revisited as the Giving Australia 2016 report – which came out last year, notes that donors are motivated when they are   “. . .  passionate about particular causes or organisations . . .” and ask themselves “how can we add value to the community?”  This sounds very much like today’s language of creating impact and creating social outcomes.

There is a reference to the language of generosity rather than the language of obligation – “giving back” and a reflection on Australia’s tax system, and the lack of inheritence taxes or death duties (the absence of which acts as a disincentive to philanthropy).  We still have incentives such as Cultural Gifts Program, and Prescribed Private Funds – now known as Private Ancillary Funds, but many of the recommendations of the Inquiry into the Australian Contemporary Visual Arts and Craft Sector (such as making bequests tax deductible) have not been implemented.

So what is new, or what has changed in the intervening 11 years?  From where I sit, unfortunately not a great deal.  There was a moment of excitement in the arts when Labour introduced a National Cultural Policy in 2013, and then promptly lost both the Minister (Simon Crean), and the election.  There has been dismay in the arts sector at the birth of the Catalyst Fund and cuts to the Australia Council which were then reversed.  There has been a huge growth in Private Ancillary Funds (there are now nearly 2000 of them) – but who knows how to find them or what they are supporting without paying a subscription fee or purchasing a directory?

On a more optimistic note, perhaps one could say that if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it – the arts and philanthropy are still very good friends, and there are some incredibly generous supporters of the arts.

What do you think? How do you think we could improve relationships between philanthropy and the arts and develop better creative connections?

PS: ozphilanthropy’s author is currently enrolled in a PhD as a provisional candidate at Swinburne supported by an Australian Government Research Training Program Scholarship.

 

 

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Funding advocacy


AdvocacyThinkstockPhotos-512883584

Image by Abscent84

A quick shout out about Philanthropy Australia’s recent publication – The Power of Advocacy: Making the Case for Philanthropic Support for Advocacy.

Published in February, this handy guide reiterates the case for philanthropic organisations’ ability to be active in the advocacy space since the AidWatch decision in 2010 and the new definitions provided in the Charities Act (2013).

The report explains “what policy advocacy is, outlines the rationale for philanthropy funding policy advocacy, sets out the law regarding funding policy advocacy, addresses some misconceptions, and presents eight case studies of philanthropy funding policy advocacy”.

Ozphilanthropy wrote about funding advocacy back in 2014, so it is great to see that Philanthropy Australia has now developed an easy to access reference which draws on some of the earlier work in this area, especially that undertaken by the Reichstein Foundation.

Congratulations to Krystian Seibert for this piece.

D’oh – I pressed publish too soon – just found the best quote in favour of advocacy in philanthropy  – “it is essential to recognise that philanthropy is inherently political and value-laden. While charity focuses on addressing the symptoms of a problem,  philanthropy tries to address root causes and advocates for policy and social change“.  This is in a chapter by Tobias Jung and Jenny Harrow entitled Providing Foundations: pilanthropy, global policy and administration in the forthcoming Oxford Handbook on Global Public Policy and Transnational Administration (edited by Stone & Moloney).

 

PS: ozphilanthropy’s author is currently enrolled in a PhD as a provisional candidate at Swinburne supported by an Australian Government Research Training Program Scholarship.
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Women & Philanthropy


PressforProgress-IWD2018 There is a buzz happening around women and philanthropy.  Whether someone’s capacity to donate is $100 or $1,000,000, there are opportunities to contribute individually or collectively to support charitable causes and organisations focussed on women and girls.

The Victorian Women’s Trust (VWT) was one of the first philanthropic organisations in Australia to focus on women’s’ needs, advocate for women and girls, and work towards a more equal future.  They have a range of sub-funds where donors can contribute to investing in women and girls in areas ranging from support for indigenous women fleeing family violence, understanding respectful relationships, women’s choirs, to assistance for vulnerable older women.

VWT’s Gender lens for inclusive philanthropy written in 2009 is still a relevant read describing the gender lens as “helping us see more clearly the role gender plays in shaping our male and female lives, our work, experience and choices. When gender differences are identified and responded to in grant making, philanthropy becomes more inclusive. When the complexities of gender inequality are understood and addressed, philanthropy becomes more potent. And when those issues and circumstances are identified where it makes sense to invest directly in women and girls because of the flow on effects to children, families and communities, philanthropy has even greater impact.”

The Australian Women’s Donors Network also advocates for greater investment in women and girls and their gender lens toolkit provides a snapshot of the existing disadvantage experienced by women locally and globally and maps out a step-by-step guide for donors and funders on how to review and apply a gender lens to giving.

The Giving Australia 2016 report notes a growing awareness among philanthropists and donors of the gender lens, and its usefulness in developing greater sophistication and understanding of issues in grant making, showing how people are differently affected by issues, stronger program design, and better outcomes for families and communities when women are supported.

The Melbourne Women’s Fund is a collective giving circle which encourages women to pool financial, intellectual, professional and personal resources to benefit groups and organisations dealing with issues that undermine the quality of life and futures of women and families.  Each member commits $1000 per year and has a vote on where the funds are distributed.  In four years they have granted $500,000 to organisations dealing with issues such as supporting older women struggling with poverty, early intervention for women in the criminal justice system and breaking the cycle of disadvantage for young girls.

Capital Giving in Canberra (formerly ACT of Women Giving) enables members to increase the impact of their individual donations through the multiplier effect of being part of a group.  Capital Giving has supported initiatives such as micro-finance support for women, and a mentorship program for girls, trans and non-binary young people aged 10-17 years.

Other collective giving initiatives focussed on women include Women and Change in Queensland, which encourages 50 women to contribute $1000 each towards one major grant each year and  100Women WA has given out 13 grants in four years totalling more than $400,000 and sums up what most of the above-mentioned organisations are doing as “enabling everyday people to be involved in creating a world where all women and girls can live safely with access to health, education and economic freedom.  This is achieved by combining donations and knowledge to provide impactful grants.”

While not specifically female focussed, the Funding Network community of donors who use a live crowdfunding model to pledge support for highlighted organisations will hold a women and girls focussed event in Melbourne this year.

Australia is connected to the international growth in support for women and girls through Women Moving Millions which was introduced by the Australian Women Donors Network in Melbourne and Sydney. This international women’s funding network encourages donors to commit $1 million over 10 years to projects and organisations focused on the advancement of women and girls.  There are now eight donors based in Australia, and this has directly led to the establishment of the Women’s Leadership Institute Australia which aims to catalyse and inspire innovative partnerships, action and system-changing solutions to achieve gender balanced representation in Australia.

And finally, the peak body for philanthropy in Australia, Philanthropy Australia has recently established a Women and Girls Funders group as one of their peer network groups.

The range of support for philanthropic initiatives and support for women is growing, but still only makes up a tiny portion of philanthropic granting.  As of 2011 only 7% of the philanthropic dollar went specifically to women and girls* so while there is growing awareness and more visible activity, there is still room in this space for amazing things to happen and for everyone to #pressforprogress.

*Women Moving Millions – All in for Her, A Call to Action

PS: check outGiving by and For Women: Understanding High Net Worth Donor’s Support for Women and Girls by the Women’s Philanthropy Unit at the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy

NB: This piece was written for QUT’s Business Insights for International Women’s Day 2018.

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Gillian Triggs at Melbourne Women’s Fund Forum


Gillian Triggs

Emeritus Professor Gillian Triggs was the keynote speaker at the Melbourne Women’s Fund inaugural forum held in Melbourne.

Professor Triggs spoke of having grown up post-war, as a baby-boomer, given a free legal education and becoming a practising barrister at 22.  This was an optimistic age and she was influenced by Virginia Woolf’s A Room of One’s Own which with absolute clarity and no weasel words stressed the importance of financial autonomy for women. (Financial autonomy and independence – and especially superannuation, was to be a key theme throughout the Forum).

Professor Triggs believes that economic empowerment is crucial for strong societies and strong communities, and sees health, housing and employment as legal rights.  She also believes that human rights for women, children as well as men are good for business.

The World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Index measures where countries stand in relation to these rights.  Australia has dropped from 15th place to 46th (behind Rwanda, Burundi and Nicaragua).  The Index compares economic participation and opportunity, educational attainment, health and survival and political empowerment.  It is not just that in Australia only 25.4% of board members on the ASX200 are women and that women retire with on average 46% of the superannuation balances of men.  What is striking is that Australia ranks No 1 for educational attainment for women yet the highest growing poplation of homeless people here is women over 55.

Professor Triggs noted that the spirit of equality, non-discrimination and equal opportunity of the early 1960s has been lost. There had been a view that if women had education they would be able to resolve all other problems, but even this week, a report by Plan International on the attitudes of young women has shown a growing loss of confidence, a drop in ambition and declining mental health.  98% of the young women and girls surveyed believed they are treated differently to boys.

Professor Triggs referred to the high standards of “evidence” required to support advocacy for “women’s issues”, noting the criticism of the recent Human Rights Commission report on sexual assault on university campuses.  Despite having been approved by 39 Vice-Chancellors (in itself no mean feat) and with more than 39,000 respondents to a survey and 2,000 submissions provided in writing, parts of the press doubted the methodology of the findings and in doing so attempted to diminish the report’s significance.

For Professor Triggs, the optimisim of the1960s has not delivered what her generation had hoped.  Society ignores the productivity supported by women through unpaid caring responsibilities, has imposed high costs of child care and reduced women’s career opportunities through the development of casual, contract and gig economy employment.  Structural issues such as changes in penalty rates will further penalise women who had been its main beneficiaries.

Occupational and industry segregation still exists and barriers such as non family-friendly workplaces also prevent women’s full economic participation.

The phenomenon of “post truth” is a concern.  While there has always been spin and propaganda, for Professor Triggs, the issue now is that we are starting to believe it. “Alternative facts” is an absurb proposition, yet false news is increasingly pervasive and informing people’s positions.  Professor Triggs referred to Jennifer Hochschild’s Do Facts Matter which posits that the danger of post truth is that you get political benefit by muddying the waters (eg – by mixing the issue of religious freedom with the same-sex postal survey).

There is also the strange phenomenon of raising an issue, proposing a solution, and then accusing women of manipulating the process (the maternity leave double-dipping fiasco).  The result of this is that women have now lost 18 weeks paid maternity leave – due to lies.

Professor Triggs spoke about domestic violence and the clear link between social disadvantage and vulnerability to violence.  While the government is now rolling out a $100 million package to stop violence against women, this is not enough for structural change, particularly while the government is cutting funding for refuges and defunding community legal centers.

Professor Triggs views these issues through the prism of human rights (not surprising given her background), and referred to the Beijing Platform for Action. A difficulty in Australia is that although Australia is a signatory to many international human rights treaties, these have not been passed into Australian law. This then affects women, children and families in many ways.  Professor Triggs noted that it was fortunate that we at least have the Sex Discrimination Act of 1984.

Other issues still to be addressed include the UN sustainable development goals, which call for gender equality by 2030.  While aspirations are important, strategies, plans and leadership are also needed.

There are also initiatives for women’s economic empowerment championed by the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund.  The IMF recently published research Banking on Women Leaders and wants to double its lending to women from $1billion to $2billion as well as develop new financial tools for women in emerging markets.  (Consider this – in Myanmar, less than 10% of women have a bank account).

And progress is happening in Indonesia, where the country is considering allowing working women to file tax returns independent of their husbands.

So what is happening in Australia?  According to Professor Triggs – not very much.  We have no national action plan for women in relation to finance, only abstract and high level objectives.  Although we have an Office for Women, there is no dedicated Minister at the Federal level, and the Office for Women has a miniscule budget of $3million which is trivial if it is to address major problems.

There’s the Women’s Money Tool Kit as part of ASIC’s MoneySmart website, but we need to do more to work more closely with women.

The conservative press considers women’s issues to be “identity politics” (I could include a link here, but don’t want to give the Hun more web hits).

So while there is a bit of doom and gloom, and there is a challenge to bring work down to a level where it will have an impact – there is something we can all do.

Professor Triggs took us back to the other literary influence of her earlier years – Germaine Greer.  She suggests we should be more aggressive and bolder, speak up more clearly and push back against “alternative truths”, present our arguments with evidence, and even be more vulgar -because “we have played the game for far too long“.

Who is with us?

A couple of questions from the audience:

Q: from the Australian Women Donors Network: “Where are we on progress vs pushback?”

A: there is real pushback in the media and manifest in the statistics – we need to produce strong statistics and spokespersons to speak up in these dangerous times where civil society is retreating from advocacy – especially in the case of community legal centres who are no longer able to stand up and speak.  Our freedom of speech is being curtailed and there needs to be accurate, measured balance.  Attention to detail in research methodology is important or the media will refute it.

Q: from Sisterworks: from the perspective of an advocate for women dependent on welfare and working in the social sector, there is a gap where people are struggling to do their best, but they don’t have the means.

A: Women need higher levels of economic stability and women need to have public voices (like Anne Summers, Liz Broderick and Rosie Batty). How have we allowed things to get to this point?  Professor Triggs made the point that if the 70 women killed by their partners each year had instead been killed by terrorists, the government would be throwing money at the issue.

ozphilanthropy attended the Melbourne Women’s Fund Forum as a guest of the Melbourne Women’s Fund.

 

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American Vertigo: Philanthropy & Democracy in Uncertain Times


MaeHong

Mae Hong, from Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisers (whom she calls the “poor cousins of the Rockefeller Foundation”) was in Australia for a second tour with Australian Executor Trustees (who brought her out last year).

She gave talks in Melbourne and Sydney on how philanthropy is adapting to the
new regime in the US – hence the title of her talk and this post – American Vertigo: Philanthropy & Democracy in Uncertain Times.

Mae feels that the biggest surprise of the US election was that so many people were so surprised, even though Lewis Lapham predicted that the US was moving towards populism and its simmering malcontent thirty years ago. The idea that since the end of the Cold War, greed and hedonism have taken such hold as to secure favourable tax benefits, policies and concessions for the wealthy few is still not widely held. Yet, in Mae’s view, the country has become a plutocracy where the poor have no power or influence, the government has been weakened fiscally and has no legitimacy, and the system works against the people.

There is chronic under-investment in the public good and inequality is the new global threat. (The eight richest people in the world have the same wealth as the bottom half
that is $3,600,000,000 people).

So where does that leave philanthropy and civil society? Mae says that civil society and the voluntary sector are now the new guardians of the public good while the very wealthy are exercising their own agendas. Big philanthropists like the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, Bloomberg Philanthropies, and the Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation set their own policy priorities (but who voted them in?).

Mae sees philanthropy’s role as a counterbalance and talked about the democratisation of philanthropy and new ways to give (yes giving circles), crowdfunding and ordinary citizens exercising their voice. There has been a seismic shift in the relationship between money and power – and also an inverted meaning of public and private. Remember when public was inherently good – the public service & public hospitals? But in the 80s this was inverted and private became the new beautiful (private planes, private personal trainers, private schools).

So what does this mean for democracy? This talk took me back to the recent presentation by Lucy Bernholz and Rob Reich on Philanthropy and Democratic Societies and last year’s presentation by the Reichstein Foundation on the Imperialism of Economics with Dr Edward Nik-Khah. There seems to be a bit of a theme developing. Is protest the new brunch?

Responses to changes in the political climate have invoked new terms like “rage giving” – where people voice to their disapproval by supporting causes which have been downgraded or derided by the government, such as Planned Parenthood, the ACLU, and the SPLC (Southern Poverty Law Center) who raised $100s of millions of dollars after the US election – (think of the recent boost to Dress Like a Girl after the comments from Cory Bernardi). Foundations have redirected $700 million to respond to Trump’s policies creating rapid response funds and critical response funds. They want to be nimble, and some companies(Paypal and Apple Pay) are blocking funds to hate groups. No platforms are neutral anymore. “If you aren’t against something you are for it – and silence is consent”.

The military developed a term – VUCA – which stands for volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity – and Mae says this is the new normal. Everything is connected – in unpredictable ways – the 2006 “Tortilla Riots” apparently sparked by corn being produced for ethanol rather than food following 3000 oil wells being taken out of commission by Hurricane Katrina (and making the price of corn in Mexico jump 400%), Walmart selling cashmere sweaters for $20 leading to more goat farming in China leading to sandstorms.

So we need to build better shock absorbers, better resilience and maintain who we are when conditions are radically changed. Mae suggests we replace VUCA with VUCA – vision, understanding, clarity and adaptation (resilient design).

Mae concluded with a quote from Maya Angelou’s essay The Sweetness of Charity, in which she says that charity “liberates the soul of the giver” and that with each gift, we strengthen the pillars of the world.

What do you think?  Does philanthropy need to be more accountable?  How can we best deal with the new disruptions in society and the economy?  I look forward to your thoughts.

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