Share via

Each year the Equity Trustees Annual Giving Review includes insights and data from our experience in supporting 650+ trusts to distribute more than $100m in charitable giving annually.  It outlines our commitment to measure the success of our funding decisions, showcasing many illustrations of impact and innovation in a number of key focus areas. 

As an institutional funder and a responsible steward of philanthropic funds – we seek to:

  • Cultivate philanthropy
  • Strengthen the for-purpose sector
  • Catalyse social impact

Producing publications like the Annual Giving Review and Horizon, and hosting webinars and events allows us to share thought leadership and learnings so that we can all deepen our community impact.

In December 2020 and February 2021, Equity Trustees hosted three webinars, introducing our third Annual Giving Review to our for-purpose sector network as well as our Active Philanthropists.  These webinars featured guests from sector partners, beneficiaries as well as clients and captured experiences and insights about a year that we never anticipated.

The global pandemic, which immediately followed the environmental and community devastation of the Summer Bushfires of 2019/2020 meant that the for-purpose sector and philanthropists had to navigate an environment of increased demand on community services, restricted income and am incredible strain on human resources.

Giving money away is easy, giving it away with thought, purpose and effectiveness is surprisingly difficult.  The Giving Review is designed to share learnings as we strive to be better funders of positive social change.  In pursuit of this, our guest speakers, Ross Wyatt from Think Impact, Julia Keady from Xfactor Collective, Dr Jane Gilmour OAM – Chair of The William Buckland Foundation, among others, shared their insights including:


  • Measurement and evaluation is how we can work out if an organisation’s actions are actually effective in delivering impact.Impact legacy is more than the amounts contributed, but how you have contributed to reshaping the future via communities, the environment or the lives of individuals
  • The issues seeking to be addressed through philanthropy are often complex.By understanding the context for an issue, we can begin to understand what impact looks like.It helps us to understand the key components that contribute to that issue and the levers that can be pulled to create change.
  • We saw during COVID19 that those organisations that were focused on, and had a clear understanding of, their impact and not a sole focus on sourcing funding, were more effectively able to adapt their activities to deliver the same, if not more impact in a COVID19 environment (given reduced resources and revenue)
  • We need to be careful to avoid ‘atomized philanthropy’ – the concept of a fine spray of funding across a multitude of issues and causes, because potentially nothing will change.By targeting philanthropy towards areas of meaning for you, sustainable impact can be achieved.Share your passion with others, inform your vision for change by speaking with others working in the area, partner with beneficiaries and other grant makers who share this vision and then focus and mobilise a ‘whole of community’ approach.


  • Help to nurture a system that is continually learning and building resilience and dependent on philanthropic or other support in the long term
  • It is important to maintain a feedback loop, so that everyone can better understand the system, to know what does or doesn’t work, and what ultimately needs to be funded (including the things that are working)
  • Good intentions are a good start but they are not nearly enough.It is important to ensure that funding doesn’t support an existing system that is perpetuating disadvantage.Giving should not make the problems worse or cause unintended consequences
  • The issues funded by philanthropy are typically complex and for-purpose organisations are at the coalface, understanding the work and the detail behind those issues.Building their organisational capacity to measure, manage and report on their work, means that beneficiaries and philanthropists are empowered to drive positive change together
  • The money available through philanthropy is tiny in comparison to the scale and complexity of the issues that we’re trying to address.However, when well-directed these funds can enable incredible impact.Philanthropists should be supported to access the data and information they need to invest with impact and meaning and challenged to do so
  • Working collaboratively with other funders and for-purpose organisations is an effective way to make a difference
  • Change takes a long time, so we need to be investing for the long term – and be clear on what outcomes we’re trying to achieve.


  • In times of disaster or emergency events, many of us have an overwhelming desire to respond, and indeed it is human nature to want to do so.But a strategy of ‘hasten slowly’ should be applied – sometimes responding too quickly may generate an inappropriate response.The key is to ask the sector, ‘what do you need?’.Listen, then act.
  • Both strategic and operational needs should inform decision making
  • COVID19 impacted the for-purpose sector in a way no one could have imagined – strengthening the capacity of the sector is even more critical now, in a time of restricted income and increased need
  • During COVID19, for-purpose organisations faced increased hours, increased demand and reduced income.Mental wellbeing of employees was an issue before the pandemic, it is now a critical issue.We can’t improve community outcomes and achieve sustainable impact with people who are burnt out
  • If we are looking at the recovery of organisations and the for-purpose sector, we need to take care of our people working in this sector first.

We thank our guest speakers for their insights and look forward to sharing further thought leadership in the future.

Read more in our Annual Giving Review.