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$10M of Philanthropy Restructured For Greater Impact

23 August 2016 at 9:44 am
Wendy Williams
One of Australia’s largest distributors of philanthropic funds has restructured its grant program to direct more than $10 million of annual discretionary charitable giving into five key areas.

Wendy Williams | 23 August 2016 at 9:44 am


$10M of Philanthropy Restructured For Greater Impact
23 August 2016 at 9:44 am

One of Australia’s largest distributors of philanthropic funds has restructured its grant program to direct more than $10 million of annual discretionary charitable giving into five key areas.

Equity Trustees, which manages more than 450 charitable trusts and foundations, is set to target: Children and Young People, Medical Research and Health, Ageing and Aged Care, Animals and Environment, and Partnerships Program in a bid to empower change.

Equity Trustees general manager of philanthropy Tabitha Lovett told Pro Bono Australia News the restructuring of the discretionary granting program will give the grants greater impact as they will be more targeted.

“We’ll have a better understanding of what the applicants are looking to achieve and what success will look like for those projects,” Lovett said.

“The new granting program will also enable us to better evaluate the projects which are funded so that we can reference those indicators of success in subsequent years and also provide the outcomes to the philanthropists with whom we work to inform their giving strategies as well.”

Discretionary distributions are possible where Equity Trustees has been appointed as the sole trustee of a charitable trust and given discretion to choose the charities and causes to receive funding. This is distinct from the other charitable trusts Equity Trustees manages, which were established with specific instructions regarding how the income is to be granted or are managed in collaboration with co-trustees.

“This restructuring of our discretionary granting program follows a purposeful search for a better way to direct charitable distributions that align with and realise the wishes of the trusts’ founders, as well as having the best chance of empowering change by bringing trusts with similar objectives into focused program areas,” Lovett said.

She said the catalyst for the change came after Equity Trustees acquired ANZ Trustees.

“The trusts that came across with the acquisition were significant in terms of funds under management and the income that was being distributed,” she said.

“We undertook a project following the acquisition to review each of the trusts and their giving strategies and identify common objectives across the trusts, so that we could communicate clearly to the Not for Profit and charitable sectors how much is being distributed, and in which areas. This then gives the charitable sector a better understanding of the pool of funds available and the focus and priorities of the grant programs we administer.”

The five areas are:

  1. Children and Young People ($1.8 million) – funds aimed at assisting children and young people to take their place in life
  2. Medical Research and Health ($3.6 million) – supporting innovation in medical and health research, services and clinical practice
  3. Ageing and Aged Care ($2.2 million) – supporting people to age well and die with dignity
  4. Animals and Environment ($1 million) – supporting conservation of Australian native fauna, addressing climate change and animal welfare
  5. Partnerships Program ($1.7 million) – supporting social inclusion and social innovation, including building capacity or organisations and communities to address emerging issues.

To settle on the five key areas, the specialist philanthropy team at Equity Trustees consulted with the Not for Profit and charitable sector as well as with co-trustees and donors.

Lovett said it was important to involve the sector in the decision.

“Equity Trustees recognises the significant role of philanthropy to lead positive change. It is our responsibility as trustee to ensure that the legacy of our generous philanthropists, who entrusted their charitable trusts to our care, are honoured by ensuring that we apply our expertise to generate as much positive impact as possible,” Lovett said.

“That includes working collaboratively with the sector and the Not for Profits who work at the front line of human vulnerability, and with public policy, and research institutions. Of course, central to all of this is working with the growing numbers of families and individuals who, through philanthropy, want to ‘be’ the change they want to see in the world, and who direct their giving towards that aim during their lifetime and beyond.

“I think the risk for funders is that if we don’t consult fully with the actual sector to which we are providing support, the grants can be made without a proper understanding of what the challenges are that the sector is facing or the opportunities that can be created with financial investment.

“So for us there is a genuine desire to collaborate with the sector to understand the directions in which they are heading, the challenges they are facing, so that the funds that we distribute can be put to the best use.”

Equity Trustees managing director Mick O’Brien said change was essential.

“We, like our partners in the Not for Profit sector and our philanthropic clients, are constantly learning and changing to find better ways to address community challenges and need,” O’Brien said.

“If we want to see change, we have to change too – to keep up with issues we face as a community, the demand for philanthropic investment, and also the energy of new generations of philanthropists who want to be confident they are achieving the most impact possible.”

Equity Trustees said more detail on each of the key areas will be released as grants in each of the categories becomes available, and applications open throughout the coming 12 months.

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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  • David Muscio says:

    For some months now I have been unable to print your articles from the print logo. It opens in a blank document so I revert to control P but of course this means I don’t get a print friendly versions and get lots I don’t need. Can this be sorted to work how it used to?

  • catherine says:

    It’s interesting but seems a shame they did not include ‘women and girls’ or ‘families in crisis’ as a category as they would allow them to target funding where it can be really effective and could assist those affected by family violence and other crises.


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