Regional Philanthropic Partnerships On the Rise
19 September 2013 at 9:33 am
There’s been an increase in the number of philanthropic organisations partnering with rural communities to build local infrastructure and social capital, according to the Foundation for Rural and Regional Renewal (FRRR).
FRRR’s CEO Alexandra Gartmann said the organisation had recently helped to facilitate a number of new partnerships.
“Place-based approaches to community development are becoming increasingly prevalent. For example, the NSW Government has recently invested in a program that FRRR will run together with Philanthropy Australia to direct funds to the Hunter and Mid North Coast of NSW,” Gartmann said.
“We have also helped to facilitate programs like the Pratt Foundation / Visy Employees partnership with Tumut and the Vincent Fairfax Family Foundation’s support for the Lachlan region in NSW.
“These are all examples of philanthropy helping to strengthen rural and regional communities.”
Tammy Bugg, Executive Officer of Western Plains Regional Development Inc., the host organisation of the Lachlan Region Community Grants Program which was established with the support of VFFF said many small community organisations struggled to maintain local infrastructure and to invest in new equipment and new technologies.
“We are very fortunate to have support from VFFF to invest in worthwhile organisations and activities that continue to develop our communities,” Bugg said.
“Through the Lachlan Region Community Grants Program, we have been able to fund a program enhancing the learning experiences of children at local kindergartens, day-care centres and local schools, through tools like whiteboards, iPads and toys and new play equipment; improving local community meeting places and making them more inviting by installing air-conditioning, floor-coverings, a lift, new roofing, lighting and toilet facilities; and encouraging more cultural activities that bring people together.
“For the philanthropic organisations, the attraction of place-based programs is the ability to invest in local communities and their capacity, to bring about sustained social outcomes.”
Jenny Wheatley, CEO of Vincent Fairfax Family Foundation, said for them, it was about assisting the community meet its goals and addressed the issues it saw as important.
“This takes time and involves more than giving money; it’s a relationship and that involves listening, shared interests and respect. We work with the team executing the program in Condobolin in the hope that our combined forces will create the outcomes the community wants to see, in a sustainable way, enabling something beyond money for a grants program,” Wheatley said.
The Lachlan Region Grants program is structured as a challenge grant program – another trend that is becoming increasingly prevalent, according to FRRR’s CEO Alexandra Gartmann.
“Philanthropic organisations are often a catalytic investment in a community. But we’ve found that those funds have even more impact if local communities can also contribute. It builds ownership of the program if people locally are asked to contribute,” Gartmann said.
“They then not only want to apply for the funds, but they also feel like they have been part of bringing the projects and the program as a whole to fruition.”
According to Gartmann, the catalytic impact of these grants should not be underestimated.
“It varies from program to program, but on average, for every dollar we invest in a grant program, a further three dollars are contributed by others – either in kind or in cash. Every dollar has an impact and every grant we make enables another community to achieve a locally-developed solution to a pressing issue in their community,” she said.
The Foundation for Rural and Regional Renewal (FRRR) was established in 2000 to support the renewal of rural and regional communities in Australia through partnerships with the private sector, philanthropy and governments.
It said its mission was to champion the economic and social strength of Australia’s regional, rural and remote communities through partnerships with the private sectors, philanthropy and governments.
In its first 10 years, FRRR managed the distribution of more than $35 million in grants and provided substantial capacity building support to community organisations across the nation.