Further to the not so recent news that AbaF and artsupport are to merge next year into one body, and that Louise Walsh of artsupport will soon be the new CEO of Philanthropy Australia, the Australian Financial Review yesterday noted that some artsupport staff will also be joining Philanthropy Australia.
What does this mean for the new body for private sector support for the arts if the artsupport expertise has been removed from the equation – and even more puzzling, what impact does this have on Philanthropy Australia? Will it have a stronger arts focus or a a stronger Private Ancillary Fund focus? (as that is where the skills and energy of artsupport have been directed – brokering support for the arts mainly from Private Ancillary Funds) and does it reflect a change in strategy for Philanthropy Australia towards a greater emphasis on Private Ancillary Funds?
Here’s Philanthropy Australia’s strategic plan released earlier this year. I note the point that Philanthropy Australia faces unmet needs by parts of the community who are donors who do not belong to the organisation as members: “Some of those segments with ‘unmet needs’ are easy to identify: – corporate foundations; aspiring philanthropists (i.e. those who are giving in the tens of thousands as individuals but do not yet have a formal structure); fledgling and start-up foundations, including PAFs; trustee companies; professional advisors; researchers and students of philanthropy. Other segments may prove more of a challenge to identify and engage, such as diaspora giving or giving by and to specific cultural or religious groups“.
I also note the High Net Worth study Philanthropy Australia undertook for the Commonwealth Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs released in February 2011 (and which is referred to in the strategic plan).
Is Philanthropy Australia moving towards being a peak body for high net worth givers only, even though their second goal as stated in the strategic plan is to Encourage all Australians to increase their giving and philanthropy?
A further question that could be asked is also about how an incoming CEO can bring staff with them. Shouldn’t any new roles be advertised openly in a fair and judicious process? If members of Philanthropy Australia aim to make grantmaking transparent and based on merit, shouldn’t we be expecting our peak body to also behave in this manner, reflecting the ethos of a just and fair society that so many philanthropic organisations strive to achieve through their work? Just asking . . . . not to mention the staff already in place – how will this all work even with the addition of offices in Adelaide and Brisbane (as announced at the recent Philanthropy Australia conference).
Interesting times ahead as we see how new leadership and staff drive the direction of Philanthropy Australia.
What are your views?
my bias – organisational member of Philanthropy Australia through Inner North Community Foundation, former employee of AbaF, and colleague of both incoming and current staff at Philanthropy Australia. NB views are my own and do not necessarily represent those of my employer.