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Sydney Closer to a Community Foundation

29 September 2003 at 1:09 pm
Staff Reporter
The establishment of a Sydney Community Foundation is moving closer to realisation following positive feedback from a feasibility study commissioned by Philanthropy Australia and CAF.

Staff Reporter | 29 September 2003 at 1:09 pm


Sydney Closer to a Community Foundation
29 September 2003 at 1:09 pm

The establishment of a Sydney Community Foundation is moving closer to realisation following positive feedback from a feasibility study commissioned by Philanthropy Australia and CAF.

Elizabeth Cham from Philanthropy Australia says the process has taken longer than they would have liked but they started with the acknowledgment that like London, Sydney is an international city before it is a community.

It is recognised that Community Foundations are the fastest growing form of philanthropy in Canada, the USA and UK.

Cham says much is said of Sydney’s lack of philanthropic culture and it simply not having a long and publicised history of philanthropic ventures and institutions.

However, Greater Sydney, with a population of nearly 5 million people, offers all the elements conducive to a philanthropic venture. Sydney is home to Australia’s wealthiest individuals and corporations, and in fact NSW is Australia’s most generous ‘giving’ state according to the Australian Taxation Office’s statistics, gifting 40% of the national total.

The proposal to establish a Greater Sydney Community Foundation (GSCF) has been nurtured through the private, public and voluntary sectors coming together over many months, led by Philanthropy Australia, NSW Premiers Department and Charities Aid Foundation.

In December 2002 a cross sectoral round-table assembled, and agreed that whilst the venture to establish a Greater Sydney Community Foundation appeared a good one a feasibility study was needed to understand more about the operating environment and the vital elements which would make it a success.

This feasibility study found that the need to reflect the Sydney psyche in the Foundation’s mission is crucial to success.

The study found the key supply factors include:
• Minimum initial investment of $500,000
• Fund Manager/ Financial Planner distribution network is critical and incentives (trailers) for that may be necessary
• Implementing a smart donor strategy which is attractive across the hierarchy of donors / investor communities in Sydney
• Any combination of investments can be offered within the confines of prudent person legislation
• An ability to work with tailored and common funds to accept large individual donations which might have specific investment needs
• Socially responsible (ethical) investment strategy

The key demand factors include:
• A community foundation should engage social service gaps in Sydney currently not attracting funding
• The ‘community’ of Sydney straddles multiple communities within, defined by ethnicity, place, sexuality and interests
• Greater Sydney is a constellation of very territorial and identifiable sub regions
• Social infrastructure and capacity building need an avenue for independent investment
• There is a ground swell of interest and activity in local community financing initiatives
• The relationship between central and local governance is crucial
• There is a rising tide of corporate community activity and engagement
• The non profit sector would be inspired to be involved with a foundation for their city
• A hands on foundation is what is required in Sydney

Elizabeth Cham says wonderful feedback from the study has now led to focus group discussions with donors as well as approaching a list of people as possible board members.

She says her wish would be to have a major launch of the Sydney Community Foundation in October next year.

Board member of the Melbourne Community Foundation, Hayden Raysmith says Melbourne welcomes the moves to set up a Sydney Community Foundation.

He says the MCF provided extensive ground-work to kick start the idea and was involved in many of the early round-table discussions.

Raysmith says the cultural differences between Melbourne and Sydney will not see the SCF being modelled on the same lines as the MCF.

He says while we are yet to see exactly how the Sydney Foundation will operate he believes it will be an organisation with a much higher public profile focusing on fundraising while the MCF focuses on donor services and closer community ties.

If you would like to comment on establishment of the Greater Sydney Community Foundation why not join our On-Line Form at

You can download a copy of the Philanthropy Australia/CAF Feasibility Study at

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