2020 showed us philanthropy can be more: More effective. More responsive. More innovative.
22 December 2020 at 7:00 am
It was our ability to change our traditional way of granting to be more responsive, flexible and ultimately supportive of what the sector needed, that was our proudest achievement this year, writes Jodi Kennedy, from Equity Trustees.
The challenge 2020 has presented on a national and global level has taught us many things.
To fulfil its potential in contributing to lasting, positive change, philanthropy must be focused, informed and committed. This is more evident than ever, as the Australian community faces significant social and environmental challenges ahead.
At the heart of Equity Trustees is a true commitment to living our values and making a deep community impact. This year we were able to clearly demonstrate this commitment through our response to both crises.
The rapid establishment of two Disaster Response Trusts after the summer bushfires, which were designed to support those impacted by the disaster, provided our clients, our employees and the business community impassioned by the crises, a means by which to help. It was a huge pro-bono effort to establish the trusts – and structure them in a way to ensure they could make rapid response grants to those in need, now and into the future.
We saw – and felt – the fast approach of increasing demand on for-purpose organisations while the “usual” way of operating had to be suspended and new ways found to deliver services. Our ability to facilitate over $90 million of charitable funds – via 3,000 grants to organisations in need, 200 of them being over $100,000 – certainly helped.
But it was our ability to change our traditional way of granting to be more responsive, flexible and ultimately supportive of what the sector needed, that was our proudest achievement. We threw our collective energy and passion as a team into responding to the sector’s needs in ways we’ve never done before.
This year we prioritised the continuation of funding to the for-purpose sector as critical, which is why we took the decision to create a one-off crisis funding round in May. This made almost $3 million worth of one-off untied grants to for-purpose organisations available.
These organisations urgently needed assistance to pivot their services online with technology or needed basic support to help them cope with increased demand for food, housing and other pandemic-related challenges. Our discretion as trustee allowed us to quickly and efficiently make these funds available in the crisis.
It’s been a year where both the wider community, for-purpose sector and philanthropists have been forced to step up and demonstrate the importance of collaboration between all key players within our ecosystem.
This collaboration is critical to navigating the immediate challenges presented in 2020, but in fact, more importantly over the long-term, as the sector is forced to rebuild and transform itself to better navigate an uncertain future.
Some examples of the initiatives supported in FY20 and detailed in our 2020 Annual Giving Review include:
- rapid response grants to communities affected by the bushfires and COVID-19 pandemic;
- collaborations to strengthen the conservation and climate change movement;
- projects designed to empower Indigenous organisations;
- funding collaboration around key reform in the out-of-home care sector;
- catalysing a campaign aimed at fighting ageism in Australia;
- backing leading medical researchers; and much more.
It’s in our DNA as a trustee to take a long view – but understandably this year, some of our focus on measuring and mapping the impact of the philanthropic funding we are responsible for had to take a back seat while we moved to redirect resources to help those immediately in need. But we’ve still made much progress on our long-term targets.
In the review we set out our blueprint for responsible stewardship of philanthropic funds which measures impact in four key focus areas. The review also sets out the insights we’ve learned around the importance of having a funding approach that supports collaboration, the empowerment of beneficiaries, the ability to invest back into the sector’s capacity and the need to fund impact through innovation at every possible opportunity.
Every year we increase our efforts to generate more philanthropic funding in Australia, using our expertise and networks to focus this funding where it will make the greatest difference. As stewards of these funds, we are committed to continuing to learn and grow with our sector partners, whose work and dedication we deeply respect.
Our active philanthropists and co-trustee partners moved with us to meet the challenge of 2020 and were deeply committed to responding constructively and flexibly. It meant being faster, more flexible and more innovative than ever before in our funding.
It is so heartening to see a growing culture of trusted partnership continuing to build across trusts, for-purpose organisations and multiple generations of families we work with, including our next generation of emerging philanthropists – all rapidly adapting their approach to support the community through these tough times.
We have a great philanthropy team who provide on-going passion and dedication to rallying the change and collective energy required to make the difference we do.
We are committed to continuing to communicate about our work toward achieving impact in this review, using it as a tool to communicate our strategy and intent and to share our best examples of what we consider effective and innovative funding.
It is also an incredible way to showcase the work of organisations we think are progressive, capable, sector leaders, doing great work in their own areas of social change.
Through listening, learning and embracing the hearts and minds of our current and future generations of philanthropists and young people, we stand the best chance of creating a future – and a legacy – we can all be proud of.
The report can be viewed at www.eqt.com.au/givingreview
[Main image: First Nations Foundation community learning youth. Read more about this project here.]