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EVOLVING CHAIR:Networking the Key to Successful Boards


14 October 2014 at 9:03 am
Xavier Smerdon
After almost thirty years at Deloitte, economist Dennis Goldner now chairs the Deloitte Foundation and finds time to also chair Oxfam Australia and Regional Arts Australia plus positions on a number of other Not for Profit boards. Goldner shares his insights in this month’s Evolving Chair.

Xavier Smerdon | 14 October 2014 at 9:03 am


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EVOLVING CHAIR:Networking the Key to Successful Boards
14 October 2014 at 9:03 am

After almost thirty years at Deloitte, economist Dennis Goldner now chairs the Deloitte Foundation and finds time to also chair Oxfam Australia and Regional Arts Australia plus positions on a number of other Not for Profit boards. Goldner shares his insights in this month’s Evolving Chair.

What is your organisation and what is the board structure?

The Deloitte Foundation, a Private Ancillary Fund closely allied to Deloitte Australia. We have an eight person board administering two charitable trusts.

What attracts you to a Not for Profit or for-profit board?

I am in my ‘post full time work life’ and want to give back to a community that has been very good to me.  I serve on a number of other Not for Profit and Government boards on an unremunerated basis as I see this as the best opportunity for me to give something back.

What is the biggest challenge your board has had to overcome? And how did you overcome it?

We are well down the road of moving our philanthropic and community activities from ’bolted on’ to ‘built in’ to a 6000 strong firm and are delighted with progress … but there’s always more to do.

What are your board’s current priorities/goals?

Further integration with the firm’s mainstream activities; embedding pro bono as the best way to assist our community using the deep skills and experience of Deloitte people; and making social innovation an overarching theme of all our programs.

Is gender balance an issue for your board? Do you prioritise it?

Deloitte’s women’s programs are vibrant and award winning and the Foundation reflects this in our team, the gender balance of which is 50/50

What is your board’s ultimate goal?

To make a significant and last difference in the communities in which we work.

What has been the highlight of your work with this board?

Contributing over $17 million in value to our community last year and and the contribution is growing

What are the key sector issues that are being discussed at board level?

We have chosen to support the education, health and humanitarian/development sectors through our flagship partnerships with High Resolves, CanTeen and Oxfam. 

Their challenges are making themselves more effective and there is the perennial issue for them of a sustainable and growing funding base in a crowded environment.  We work closely with our partners in these 3 sectors to help them achieve their goals.

Does your board believe collaboration between organisations within your area is important? Why?

We believe fundamentally in collaboration – it pervades all our relationships with our partners – 3 flagship and 25 workplace giving partners – and in delivering social innovation we also partner with the Australian Centre for Social Innovation

Do you have any advice on board members raising money?

Many directors of Not for Profits have senior level networks and good contacts with influencers.  They can make a real difference to a Not for Profit’s capacity to raise money including from private philanthropy.  And increasingly I am seeing board members put their own money – sometimes in significant amounts – into their organisations.  

It is a model not dissimilar to US philanthropic practice and I think we’ll see more of this in Australia.


Xavier Smerdon  |  Journalist  |  @XavierSmerdon

Xavier Smerdon is a journalist specialising in the Not for Profit sector. He writes breaking and investigative news articles.

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