Community Foundations Forum 2013

foundation barossaFoundation 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.

About ozphilanthropy

#Philanthropy. #arts Posts by Sharon Nathani, PhD candidate at the Centre for Social Impact, Swinburne focussing on philanthropic funders of the arts. Sharon's study is supported through an Australian Government Research Training Program Scholarship.
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