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The Next Generation of Giving

18 October 2016 at 10:27 am
Ellie Cooper
CEO of the Community Foundation of Central Victoria Ann Lansberry will use a social innovation fellowship to learn from the multi-million dollar success of giving days in the United States.

Ellie Cooper | 18 October 2016 at 10:27 am


The Next Generation of Giving
18 October 2016 at 10:27 am

CEO of the Community Foundation for Central Victoria Ann Lansberry will use a social innovation fellowship to learn from the multi-million dollar success of giving days in the United States.

Lansberry, who recently organised Australia’s first 24-hour online community giving day, was announced as the 2016 Australian winner of the Macquarie Group Foundation’s David Clarke Social Innovation Fellowship on Monday.

“I’m feeling really excited and proud, and how interesting it is to be on the other side of the fence receiving a grant rather than giving them, it’s fantastic,” Lansberry told Pro Bono Australia News.

The Community Foundation for Central Victoria supports and promotes regional philanthropy, to help local communities invest in their own future.

In her fellowship application, Lansberry said she wanted to further investigate the opportunities and risks of collaborative online giving days, where local community organisations join forces to raise money.  

She said she wanted to use her $20,000 grant to learn from the US where giving days had been a significant means of attracting donors in recent years.

In August, she ran Big Give, which brought 70 not-for-profit and community organisations in Central Victoria together for a crowdfunding campaign.

“They’ve been doing it for much longer in the States, they started in 2009,” she said.

“We were delighted with the $83,000 that we raised in Central Victoria, but GiveMN, they raised $18 million in one day.

“So talking to the States and finding out how they do it, where their engagements at is incredibly important to us.

“And also things go wrong. The Give Local America platform crashed this year on 3 May, taking down a lot of organisation’s giving days, so it’s just as important to learn from when things go wrong, as from when things go well.”

The 24-hour online fundraiser for more than 550 not-for-profit organisations in Sacramento and other areas were impacted when the online fundraising platform Kimbia went down.

Lansberry hopes to head over to the US in April and May next year, when there are a number of major giving days happening across the country.

“I’m hoping to talk to Sacramento, find out what happened when all their systems went down,” she said.

“Talk to Minnesota about their huge success. And North Texas do some really interesting stuff.”

She said online community giving days were something that could take off in Australia.

“I believe that Big Give and community giving days is a fantastic model that would work really well within Australia in community foundations and in other organisations,” she said.

“Because it’s online and it’s about community engagement and local communities helping themselves, I think it’s a great scaleable model that we have the perfect psychology in Australia to embrace.”

But Lansberry said she was still “blown away” by the result of the first Big Give.

“I had hoped each organisation could raise $500 to $1000, and they just did better,” she said.

“And they had fun. They really enjoyed it.

“Because it was a game and a competition our local community really got into it, they got behind it 2,000 per cent and just said ‘wow, this is new, this is different’.

“If honest they weren’t all entirely sure how it was going to work out because it was new, but they just grabbed it and embraced it and ran with it, which was fantastic.”

The fellowship was established in 2012 in memory of the Macquarie Group Foundation founding chairman David Clarke AO.

It seeks to encourage individual social innovators to visit and research best practice innovation around the world.

“Innovation is vital, and it was great to find out that the Macquarie Foundation, one of their core values is innovation, capacity building and social enterprise,” Lansberry said.

“And we at the [Community Foundation for Central Victoria], our core values are generosity, innovation and collaboration, because we have to innovate, and even better than innovating ourselves is borrowing great ideas from overseas.

“So I’m incredibly grateful to the Macquarie Foundation to get the… fellowship just to learn from others and collaboration, elaborate and spread the word.”

Head of Macquarie Group Foundation Lisa George said the selection panel was impressed with the high calibre of submissions.

“All our finalists demonstrated great commitment to continuing to develop innovative programs that address social needs and long-term community problems,” George said.

“We particularly liked Ann’s focus on collaborating with other organisations and the scalability inherent in improved digital fundraising tools.”

The other Australian finalists were Ian Cox from the Hutt St Centre in South Australia and Mike Wilson from JDRF Australia.

Ellie Cooper  |  Journalist  |  @ProBonoNews

Ellie Cooper is a journalist covering the social sector.

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