Stories in philanthropy

It’s how you show up: The power of authentic storytelling

Great storytelling requires that you walk the talk. A recent global gathering of non-profit leaders and storytellers in San Francisco not only showcased best-practice storytelling for social change, it also provided a powerful, real-time case study of rhetoric matched by action. More.


Why foundations can afford to fail often and badly: Diana Leat

World-renowned philanthropy researcher, Dr Diana Leat, says it’s time philanthropy challenged the media narrative of immediacy in response to natural disasters and emergency events. She cautions philanthropic foundations to beware of the danger of being “permanently successful” and ardently believes philanthropy’s greatest asset isn’t the money, but its ability to go faster than public opinion. More>


More reach, greater impact: How FRRR is helping philanthropy get funding to places it couldn’t reach on its own

The Foundation for Rural & Regional Renewal’s recent journey to deliver an Impact Report which examines the first 16 years of the organisation’s operation delivered surprising insights and revelations that not only confirm the anecdotal success of its partnership model but set the course for its future collaborations with government, business and philanthropy. Here, FRRR CEO, Natalie Egleton, unpacks the process and shares valuable lessons learned. More>


The Macquarie Group Foundation’s $50 million search for large-scale impact  
 

Since its establishment in 1985, the Macquarie Group Foundation, together with Macquarie staff, has distributed more than $330 million to support social innovation and strengthen the impact of community organisations around the world. As Macquarie Group prepares to celebrate its 50th anniversary in 2019, a new $50 million, open and contestable award has been announced for non-profits with big ideas across the globe. More>


 

 


Racing against the clock: Seri Renkin on the challenges and opportunities of a ‘sunset’ foundation

Describing itself as a ‘catalytic philanthropy organisation’ the ten20 Foundation was established with an intentionally short, 10-year funding horizon. That’s now been whittled down to eight years because the need for investment in its chosen focus area has been so great. Seri Renkin, Managing Director of ten20 Foundation and Chair of the Stella Prize, shares her thoughts on the challenges and opportunities of catalysing impact in a short time frame. More>

The next evolution: The Myer Foundation’s journey to refresh its strategic plan 

“I see it as an evolution of the thinking that’s been developing over recent years,” says Leonard Vary, CEO of The Myer Foundation and Sidney Myer Fund, describing the ​recent update of the philanthropic institutions’ shared strategic plan. Anchoring the two entities’ work to four pillars (People, Organisations, Beyond Grantmaking and Family Engagement) the decision was made to wrap up the Education program and narrow the grantmaking focus to three areas: Arts & Humanities, Poverty & Disadvantage, Sustainability & the Environment. Here Leonard Vary shares the challenges and learnings and how the foundation navigated the journey. More>

 

 

 

 

 

“Are you creating a foundation where people can be really proud of its collective achievements and impact or are you playing it safe?”

175 philanthropic foundations around the world are now signatories to the DivestInvest movement and Australian Communities Foundation (ACF) is the most recent addition to that list. ACF Chief Executive Officer, Maree Sidey, says the process to divest the foundation’s $90 million corpus from fossil fuels was three years in the making and though the journey’s not over yet, the decision to take a values stance has already paid dividends. More>

Highlights from the 2018 Philanthropy Australia National Conference

More than 740 members of Australia’s philanthropic community came together in Melbourne on September 5-6 for the biennial Philanthropy Australia National Conference. Though countless provocations and calls to action were issued, debated and dissected during the thirty conference sessions, two themes reigned supreme: the first was purpose and the need for even bigger philanthropic ambitions; the second was power - specifically, how you shape it and how you share it. More>

 

‘The power dynamic is not real, it’s a creation that becomes real only because everyone wants to believe it’: Larry Kramer

Larry Kramer, President of the Hewlett Foundation and keynote speaker at the upcoming Philanthropy Australia National Conference, disputes many of the prevailing narratives about philanthropy. He’s spoken out against big bets, impact investing and risk; rejects the notion of an unalterable power imbalance between funders and grantees; and doesn’t understand why anyone would find it difficult to talk about failure. Fasten your seatbelts. More>

 

Recalibrating a foundation’s purpose: Danielle Walker Palmour

“As philanthropic foundations I think we have a responsibility to be brave and go for the big beasts,” says Danielle Walker Palmour, Director of UK-based Friends Provident Foundation and upcoming keynote speaker at the Philanthropy Australia 2018 National Conference. “People will say to me, ‘Changing the economy looks impossible’, but even though we’re a tiny foundation I believe it’s possible by imagining a different future and bringing new ideas. Ideas can catch on like wildfire these days.” More>

 

 

“As funders I think we can all do a better job of listening”: Fred Blackwell, The San Francisco Foundation

The San Francisco Foundation, which celebrates its 70th anniversary this year, is one of the largest community foundations in the US with $1.3 billion in assets and an annual funding distribution of almost $90 million. Ahead of his visit to Australia for the 2018 Philanthropy Australia National Conference, CEO of The San Francisco Foundation, Fred Blackwell, talks about the organisation’s three pathways to greater philanthropic impact (people, place and power), the pursuit of  racial and economic inclusion and knowing when and where funders can use their voice More >

Nation’s most effective givers recognised at 2018 Australian Philanthropy Awards

Bold philanthropic ambitions, the power of advocacy and the impact of family philanthropy were three of the most pronounced themes at the 2018 Australian Philanthropy Awards, presented at the Sydney Opera House on July 26 More >

2018’s Leading Philanthropist

West Australian couple, Nicola and Andrew Forrest, were named 2018 Philanthropy Leader at the recent Australian Philanthropy Awards. Accepting the award, Nicola Forrest told guests via video message that “the most important thing any of us can do is collaborate together. When we work together there’s no limit to what we can achieve.” More >

‘This is not just a movement, it’s a moment’: Deanne Weir

In the age of #MeToo and #TimesUp, 2018 Gender-Wise Philanthropy Award recipient, Deanne Weir, says that while more conversation and action towards gender equity is needed, there’s reason to be hopeful. Her capacity building philanthropic support of the International Women’s Development Agency is just one of the ways Weir is walking the talk: “It’s not about massive dollars, it’s about real impact at all levels.” More >

 

'Philanthropy, to me, is being part of building a future': Ulrike ​Klein

South Australian philanthropist and Jurlique co-founder, Ulrike Klein AO, has taken a hands-on and “responsible” approach to her philanthropy which has culminated in the development of the world-renown UKARIA Cultural Centre and an ambitious public fundraising project to acquire rare 18th century instruments More >

 

5 ways to sharpen your storytelling

Storytelling is more critical than ever for non-profits and for-purpose enterprises. In a world of information overload, the stories that capture and showcase your organisation’s impact in a compelling way are the key to strengthening connections with your supporters. More >

‘Helping others is the most satisfying thing you can do in life’: Nicola Forrest

Co-founder of the Minderoo Foundation, Nicola Forrest, talks about the Forrests’ extraordinary philanthropic journey including the Giving Pledge, knowing how much is enough, the importance of challenging the norm, bringing people together, and why she’s excited about the next generation of change-makers. 
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Asking the big questions:
Fay Fuller Foundation

Seeking to catalyse systems change that improves health outcomes for all South Australians, the Fay Fuller Foundation has commissioned and shared first-of-its-kind research that provides eye-opening insights for funders and anyone with an interest in population health. More >

People Powered justice: Grata Fund

“The courts are the last line of defence against the abuse of power,” says Grata Fund founder, Isabelle Reinecke. “That’s how our democracy was designed but people have not been able to use the courts because of the prohibitive cost.” That is until the Grata Fund’s game-changing work began to level the playing field. 
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‘You don’t need to be mega-wealthy to make a difference’: John Grenshaw

Retired financial adviser, John Grenshaw, is among a growing number of unassuming philanthropists who are quietly demonstrating that philanthropy doesn’t have to be a complicated exercise requiring a billion-dollar bank account. More >

Leading by example: Vedran Drakulic

Gandel Philanthropy CEO, Vedran Drakulic OAM, is gearing up for his fourth Vinnie’s CEO Sleepout next month. Not only is he raising serious money (Drakulic has twice been the event’s leading Victorian fundraiser), he’s also garnering support and admiration from his philanthropic peers. More >

The Support Report: John McLeod

Philanthropy Australia Council member and author of JBWere’s Support Report, John McLeod, shares insights and implications stemming from the changing nature of giving as well as some thoughts about the Philanthropy 50 list of the year’s biggest private givers. More >

Joining the dots: Lin Bender, AM

“The funding that is given to a service provider is just one part of the equation, and it’s not the most important part,” says Lin Bender. The Helen Macpherson Smith Trust CEO on the importance of looking to the past to determine the future, reframing failure and why the organisation’s open-door policy has become one of her greatest joys. More >

Show me the impact: The new philanthropic imperative

Next-gen donors, armed with more resources than ever before, are determined to revolutionise giving and achieve progress on some of the world’s most intractable issues. Dr Michael Moody, co-author of ‘Generation Impact’ says the biggest consequence of the ‘Impact Revolution’ is that non-profits must adapt the way they engage big donors. More >

Strike the match: Philanthropy’s role in supporting movements

“Move your money, go to the rally, lift up your advocacy voice and speak truth to power,” urges Ellen Dorsey, Executive Director of the Wallace Global Fund, who is in Australia for the Australian Environmental Grantmakers Network’s 10th anniversary conference. More >

Sustaining the force for good: AEGN’s 10th anniversary conference

Environmental funders, perhaps like no other philanthropic collective, have an acute appreciation of the urgency and complexity of their cause and scale of their task. Though you’d be forgiven for expecting hand-wringing and the odd note of despair when they come together for the annual AEGN conference, you might just be surprised at how determinedly upbeat they are. More >

Balnaves Foundation backs reporting of Indigenous affairs

Hamish Balnaves says the $300,000 grant to the Guardian’s Civic Journalism Initiative is designed to support quality reporting that holds government to account and tells stories that otherwise wouldn’t get told. More >

It takes two: QCoal Foundation and RFDS

The QCoal Foundation and Royal Flying Doctors Service Queensland share the story of how a new community dental service helped 8,000 patients in remote communities and achieved sustainability after securing federal government funding. More >

“We’re not telling people what to do. We just want to show what’s possible.”

President and CEO of The Atlantic Philanthropies, Christopher G. Oechsli, takes a deep dive into lessons learned while executing the $8 billion philanthropic vision of entrepreneur Chuck Feeney, aka the ‘James Bond of Philanthropy’. More >

Innovation alone isn’t enough to achieve impact: The McConnell Foundation

Stephen Huddart, President and CEO of one of the world’s leading social innovation foundations, shares his thoughts on philanthropy’s role in protecting democratic discourse, the complexity and necessity of funding First Nations issues, and why the Foundation holds retreats for non-profit leaders. More >

From impatience to action: Millennial philanthropy and NEXUS

Next-gen philanthropist and Chair of the 2018 NEXUS Australia Youth Summit, Rachel English, on why we need to build, share, learn and create new solutions to old problems (with an apology to her Dad). More >

2018: The year ahead

Resolutions? Intentions? Directions? 39 leaders from across the philanthropic community share their priorities for 2018. More >

Next-gen donors: What you need to know

Philanthropy Australia CEO, Sarah Davies, unpacks the priorities and preferences of next-generation givers. More >

Reader’s choice: Top 10 stories

2017 was a BIG year for philanthropy in Australia and there was no shortage of inspiring stories to tell. Here are the ten most read stories we shared with the sector in 2017. 
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Do the most you can for those you serve: Lisa Cotton

It would be tough to find a bigger champion of democratised philanthropy than Lisa Cotton, co-founder of The Funding Network. As she prepares to step down from her role as CEO, she reflects on the growth of collective giving, changes in the sector and the challenges that lie ahead. More >

Why we need philanthropy champions

Philanthropy Australia President, Alan Schwartz AM, calls for more visionary Australians, from all business sectors and backgrounds, to join the impact movement by using their private wealth for public good. More >

2017 highlights and lowlights

Forty leaders from across the philanthropic spectrum share their thoughts about hits and misses and who impressed them in 2017. More >

Funding tomorrow, today: AMP Foundation

As the AMP Foundation marks its 25th anniversary, CEO Helen Liondos shares lessons learned, her thoughts on the changing nature of corporate philanthropy and even a couple of stories of failure. More >

Never assume, never presume: Sylvia Admans

The R E Ross Trust CEO reflects with characteristic frankness on almost two decades’ worth of philanthropic experience before she steps down in January 2018.  More >

Celebrating community and philanthropy partnerships

Community and Philanthropy Partnerships Week (Nov 20-26) is a time to celebrate and recognise the positive impact of philanthropic partnerships in our communities. More >

Key learnings from 2017 UK Study Tour

Eight days, three cities, nine UK trust and foundations, one conference: 19 members of Australia’s philanthropic community headed to the UK for this year’s study tour. Here are the highlights. More >

Dive in. Take Action: Este Darin-Cooper

Next-gen philanthropist Este Darin-Cooper shares light bulb moments from her giving journey which have not only informed her philanthropy, but shaped her professional career. More >

The journey is the learning: Paul Wheelton

Paul Wheelton AM shares thoughts about his PhD in hindsight, what it feels like to be the only male delegate at an international conference of high net worth donors, and more. More >

Big bets and spending down: The Poola Foundation

Few Australian funders have made a visionary bet as big and bold as the Poola Foundation which wrapped up its operations in 2016. Founders Eve Kantor and Mark Wootton share the story of their philanthropic journey. More >

Community Foundations Forum 2017

The annual National Community Foundations Forum (NCFF17), held October 17-19 in Melbourne, took a deep dive into the SMIRF capital of community foundations. (And no, that does not include little blue creatures). More >

Lessons from the trenches: Ian Darling

The Philanthropy Leader of the Year on storytelling for social change, leadership lessons from the Richmond Football Club and what it takes to stop your philanthropic dollars from going backwards. More >

Opening doors: The Snow Foundation

Georgina Byron explains why humility, collaboration and transparency are the cornerstones of The Snow Foundation’s philanthropy. More >

Give. Stand. Respect. Highlights from Philanthropy Meets Parliament

The 2017 Philanthropy Meets Parliament Summit brought funders, nonprofits and policy makers together for two days of inspiring keynotes, case studies and challenging conversations about philanthropy’s role in advocating for change. More >

Environmental philanthropy meets Parliament

The Australian Environmental Grantmaker Network event saw three funders and a government representative wrestle with what constitutes advocacy, the threat to DGR status for some environmental charities, impact investing and more. More >

Insights from SEWF2017

Allan English, Jan Owen, Kevin Robbie, Catherine Brown, Dan Madhavan, Jay Boolkin and David Brookes share their reflections from the 2017 Social Enterprise World Forum. More >

Standing up for diversity and inclusion: The Channel

“There was no major trust or foundation in Australia that named LGBTIQA+ as a focus area, yet the need within this community is very real. That’s why The Channel was born.” - Georgia Mathews, Founding Director More >

“Advocacy fuels the power of justice” – Daniel Lee

“We need to embrace advocacy as a high impact, high leverage strategy,” Lee told delegates at the Philanthropy Meets Parliament Summit. “Advocacy is not a minefield of risk, but a garden of opportunity.” More >

The Power of Narrative: Philanthropy and Storytelling

It’s not that we’re short on great stories—they’re everywhere. We hear, see and experience them every day in our work to catalyse positive social change. The story opportunities in philanthropy flow as bountifully as the chocolate river in Willie Wonka’s chocolate factory. More >

Dr Andrew Lu: Art, law and a First Fleet piano

Western Australia’s Andrew Lu is shaping a personal philanthropic path that supports Australia’s contemporary arts while preserving the country’s often forgotten artistic heritage. More >

Let all the flowers bloom: Genevieve Timmons

Big-hearted leader, passionate advocate and mentor to many, Genevieve Timmons, who recently received an honorary doctorate from Swinburne University, is one of the most beloved figures in Australian philanthropy. More >

Equity Trustees’ new head of philanthropy

Equity Trustees’ new head of philanthropy Jodi Kennedy brings experience and a vision for shared learnings to the leadership role at one of the country’s biggest philanthropic funders. More >

How to be an effective funder

Tom Keenan knows a thing or two about grant making. After five years at the Origin Foundation, Keenan was hand-picked to scope and lead the Audi Foundation which exists to help strengthen the communities in which it operates. More >

Fostering pluralism and discovery: Philanthropy’s true purpose

Stanford Professor Rob Reich explains why he believes small philanthropic foundations shouldn’t exist, why perpetuity is problematic, and why philanthropy is asking the wrong questions. More >

Taking a stand: Levi Strauss Foundation

Ahead of his visit to Australia for the Philanthropy Meets Parliament Summit next month, Daniel Lee, CEO of the Levi Strauss Foundation, explains why the Foundation isn’t afraid to put its reputation and influence on the line in pursuit of its values. More >

Philanthropy and democratic societies

Does philanthropy support or subvert the democratic process? It’s a question that’s getting a lot of air time in the US right now and a few murmurs here in Australia where a discussion of philanthropy’s role in democratic societies was the focus of a recent public event convened by Perpetual and Stanford’s Center on Philanthropy and Civil Society (PACS). More >

Powerful and accessible philanthropy: What we know about collective giving

New research commissioned by the Prime Minister’s Community Business Partnership confirms that collective giving is one of the most engaging and promising ways to grow philanthropy in Australia. More >

For the love of a good challenge - Jan Robins

Retirement isn’t a word that resonates with Jan Robins, the soon-to-depart CEO of the Colonial Foundation. Fourteen years ago she announced her intention to retire but inspired by a close friend, Jan opted to use her skills and knowledge to help others. More >

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