Tim spoke on a wide range of issues affecting the not for profit sector, such as the new national regulator, the difficulty of reporting differently about fundraising across different states, how donors react when he brings up the dreaded words “climate change”, what it feels like to be called a neo pagan, and the importance of recognising the need for collaboration when there may be too many charities doing identical work.
Tim also talked about the culture of giving in Australia and even the differences in philanthropic thought from east to west here, and how he has been reprimanded for telling Western Australians how Melbourne is still living of the munificence of the gold boom. He touched on the core differences between philanthropy in Australia and the US – noting the historical imperatives which have shaped how our societies have developed – they were outback pioneers who did everything for themselves, shunning government, – whereas we perhaps felt that collaboration was best achieved through government.
He is a fluid speaker, and reminded us he is never far from his background as a minister, comparing today’s economic situation to the tale of Joseph and Pharaoh with the 7 lean years and the 7 years of plenty, and questioning the generosity of some wealthy Australians (as compared with their means) through the tale of the widow’s mite.
One of the most striking statements Tim made was that there are now more people in slavery than in the entire 450 years of the transAtlantic slave trade.
This really got me thinking about philanthropy and how we can ever solve problems or affect social change, particularly organisations whose funding focuses on one issue. Tim talked about charities which build houses in poor villages, but there is still lack of education, lack of clean water and lack of health services. It also made me think of the Portland House Foundation’s model which is to cover a range of issues relating to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs through support at “the right time, right people and right spend’.
Unfortunately I have left my notes elsewhere and can’t give a more detailed review of the discussion. But here are some questions:
how do you respond when donors say your political or advocay agenda is not what they signed up for?
while we continue to compare levels of generosity with other countries and ignore the historical background which led to how our society developed, is this detrimental to the development of our own style of philanthropy? ie should we just get over measuring and comparing and try to find ways to motivate our own community?
how does dealing with different state regulators impact on your organisation, and will a national regulator make things easier?
I look forward to comments on this.