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Australian Ethical Opens 2016 Community Grants Program

7 June 2016 at 9:00 am
Wendy Williams
Organisations working to deliver tangible benefits for people, the planet and animals are being called on to “put their best foot forward”.

Wendy Williams | 7 June 2016 at 9:00 am


Australian Ethical Opens 2016 Community Grants Program
7 June 2016 at 9:00 am

Organisations working to deliver tangible benefits for people, the planet and animals are being called on to “put their best foot forward”.

money on desk

Ethical wealth manager, Australian Ethical has opened its community grants program for 2016, as part of the company’s purpose to make money do good, and it is calling on organisations to apply.

The company said each year it donates 10 per cent of its pre-tax profits to organisations working to make the world a better place.

Since the grants program began, the company has donated over $2 million to organisations both locally and internationally.

Australian Ethical Investment chief executive officer Phil Vernon told Pro Bono Australia News the grants program was a key part of the company’s philosophy and helped organisations deliver social good.

“A key aspect of our philosophy is that 10 per cent of our profits go out into social and environmental causes, that don’t necessarily have a profit based element to them, so it is really fundamental to who we are and what we believe in,” Vernon said.

“The Australian Ethical Investment Charter isn’t simply a guide for screening investments – it is the basis of our company culture and drives our commitment to improve the world around us.

“The grants program is one way we meet this commitment, and I encourage organisations to apply for a grant that will help them grow their projects and ultimately deliver social good.”

Last year, Australian Ethical awarded $300,000 in grants to 18 charities and social businesses working on Australian and international causes.

The recipients were varied and included animal welfare, conservation, women’s empowerment, renewable energy, addressing homelessness and alleviating poverty.

Vernon said the number of applicants had risen over the last few years.

“Two years ago we had 400 applicants, last year we had 700 applicants, so the popularity of the program is increasing quite dramatically,” he said.

“I think that for a start, just the number of people looking for grants has probably increased because grant funding was drying up elsewhere, but for the popularity of our program, I think we try to cut down the red tape, if you like, for applying.

“While we have a certain amount of rigour around it, it is a fairly streamlined process, so we really want organisations to focus on doing what they are meant to be doing which is providing impact and not tying themselves up in rigorous application processes, having said that we do have a certain amount of governance around it.”

Vernon said he would call on organisations to put their best foot forward.

“We have three broad criteria which is basically people, animals and planet,” he said.

“A lot of applicants will often address all three, so applicants that are quite creative in for example in solving an environmental issue but also contributing to employment for example is addressing more than one issue.

“We look for projects that will really contribute, so that the monies aren’t just going to operating costs for example, but are going to a real impact, so that we can see a tangible outcome.

“We would say, really emphasise the direct impact that the funds would have, emphasise the ongoing impact, so that’s another thing we often look for, that the money might be contributing to an ongoing project, and really emphasise, as I say, addressing more than one criteria.

“We then go through the process internally of just filtering that down to a shortlist of about 30 and then we actually engage with our staff and our shareholders in contributing to voting for the final recipients out of that shortlist of 30.

“We absolutely enjoy the process and the staff that are involved are highly engaged in it.

“It is a core part of our business and in fact we also volunteer with some of the recipients as well… one of the recipients last year was an organisation called Green Connect… it’s  a fantastic organisation and we actually had a team from Australian Ethical go and volunteer for them last week.”

Green Connect, a social enterprise in the Illawarra that helps refugees and young people gain employment by managing waste sustainably and producing sustainable food, received a $20,000 grant in 2015.

Jacqui Besgrove from Green Connect said she would encourage organisations to apply.

“We used this money to develop a further 5,000 square metres of our urban, chemical free farm and in doing so increased employment opportunities for young people and people from a refugee background. We also hosted four community days at the farm, where we taught the broader Illawarra community how to live sustainably,” Besgrove said.

“Ultimately, the funding helped us address pressing environmental and social problems – and I would encourage other organisations with a similar commitment to drive social good to apply for the grant round.”

Organisations can apply for the grant online. Submissions close on Friday 24 June.

Wendy Williams  |  Editor  |  @WendyAnWilliams

Wendy Williams is a journalist specialising in the not-for-profit sector and broader social economy. She has been the editor of Pro Bono News since 2018.

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