Aussies urged to help rural communities doing it tough
16 May 2019 at 4:49 pm
Australians are being encouraged to give generously to rural charities before the end of the financial year, with fears regional communities are being neglected in favour of major city-based charities.
The Foundation for Rural and Regional Renewal (FRRR) has noted that the Giving Australia Report found 94 per cent of donations go to the top 10 per cent of charities in Australia, most of which are large organisations based in metro areas.
As a result, FRRR can usually only meet about half of the 2,000-plus funding requests it receives from NFPs in rural, regional and remote Australia.
FRRR CEO Natalie Egleton said the choices Australians made could help change the equation for country communities.
She told Pro Bono News that larger charities dominating donations had a two-fold effect on rural Australia.
“One is that a lot of the money stays in the cities and while a lot of those agencies provide outreach services to regional areas, there are thousands of rural communities that are unable to access a lot of the core service requirements they need,” Egleton said.
“And then also the impact comes down to quite basic human rights. There are children in rural towns who can’t access early intervention for very preventable conditions… it’s some very core things that people can take for granted.”
Egleton said something the broader philanthropy sector needed to consider was what kind of support it provided to regional and rural communities.
She said these communities did not need funding for complicated programs but rather just a hand with things that were quite flexible and grassroots-focused.
“It’s usually very basic things they need like community infrastructure, helping them fix up the local hall or buying equipment for programs and services to be delivered locally,” she said.
“They often can get on with things and do it themselves if they’re just given those basics.”
Egleton added there were a lot of leaders in the philanthropic sector and a lot of quiet philanthropists who were supporting rural communities.
Her message to them is that rural communities need “really flexible, quite open” access to funding, warning that the more narrow and targeted it gets the more difficult it is for communities to do what they need to do.
“So we certainly do need more funding into rural communities, but it needs to be really responsive and flexible to the needs of those communities, in addition to the targeted funds,” she said.
“There’s obviously a need for all types of philanthropy but from our perspective, broad general funding is actually where you get the greatest impact in rural areas.
“My constant reality check whenever I get on the ground in rural communities is just to trust what they are asking for and trust that they know what is best.”
FRRR has distributed more than $85 million to around 9,500 projects in rural and regional communities since its establishment in 2000.