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Equity Trustees helping Australian philanthropists
to make a difference

Since 1888, Equity Trustees has been helping Australian philanthropists to make a difference to their chosen charities and causes.
Over the years, we have learnt that giving away money effectively is quite a challenge.  

And when measuring social impact, activity alone is not enough.  

In 2018 we embarked on a journey towards impact and responsible stewardship and made a commitment to learn, grow and deepen our connection with clients and our community.  

We started with the development of our Blueprint for Deepening Community Impact.  This blueprint, developed in collaboration with Think Impact, provides us with a framework for mapping where and how we need to make changes, and how we measure whether we have funded in an effective way.  

The blueprint doesn’t cover ‘everything’; we have focused our efforts to create five key focus areas:

Young people have opportunities for great futures (Children and Young People)

People age well and die well (Ageing and Aged Care)
Equitable health outcomes for all Australians are achieved (Medical Research & Health)

The natural environment thrives sustainably (Animals and Environment)

The for-purpose sector is strong and vigorous (Sector Capacity Building Fund)

In this and future editions of Horizon, we’ll be sharing the thoughtful strategies from each focus area, sharing the impact we have been able to fund to date and the exciting projects supported by our Trusts over the years.


We recognise that the for-purpose sector is resource constrained, fragmented and highly competitive. Complex societal problems require new approaches to address and resolve. Philanthropic funding is uniquely placed to provide risk capital to fund the innovation gap
The Sector Capacity Building Fund makes grants supporting organisations that are solving complex societal problems like homelessness, entrenched disadvantage or mental ill health.

The Sector Capacity Building Fund is currently comprised of 35 charitable trusts and valued at over $66m in funds under management.  In FY21, $1.5m was distributed to the sector via 13 grants.

Through this fund we support great organisations to enable them to do their work better. Whether that is investing in the leadership, providing development opportunities for staff, funding the operational expenses of the organisation or undertaking critical measurement and evaluation to prove (or disprove) the difference the organisation is making.

Where do we want to get to?

A for-purpose sector which is consistently managing for impact and can report effectively
Funding is longer term and recognises the importance of capacity building

High performing organisations with strong leadership and collaborative stakeholder relationships 

Innovative solutions are emerging, funders have a higher tolerance for risk and failure.

What do Sector Capacity Grants look like?

Empowering equity means we lead and support an inclusive approach to addressing challenges facing our community. We encourage organisations to work together with communities to ensure those impacted by proposed solutions are central to the design and implementation of the program. We support initiatives that strengthen the voice of individuals and communities

An example of this work is the ABC Foundation Limited – AWARE Project which involved a two year grant of $87,000 to create pathways to real employment for young Indigenous women in Derby region in WA. The project plans to train 24 women to become evaluation experts and connect them into existing job opportunities in the region, jobs which are currently filled by FIFO workers with no local or cultural connection to the area. 

Convening collaboration means we bring the right people together in the right way to amplify positive outcomes.

An example of this work is demonstrated by the Australian Centre for Social Innovation (TACSI) - Building the Conditions for Social Innovation program which involves a $1 million grant over five years, working with partners Monash University, RMIT, and CSI to develop a point of view in relation to developing a strong Social R&D System in Australia. This project will include opportunities through the Social Innovation Learning Network with senior leaders from 25 NFP's across Australia. 

Another is the Centre for Social Impact - Social Start Up Studio – a three year grant of $600,000 to address the knowledge gap for early stage Victorian social enterprises. Recognising that every social enterprise has unique needs, the social start up studio model provides various levels of engagement for social enterprises targeted to their exact age, stage and needs of their organization. 

The studio is working with seven long-term clients (with plans for five more in 2021) with the team distilling and sharing learnings via their website. 
During COVID19 they pivoted support to provide more immediate financial modelling support for enterprises and won a $160,000 Victorian government contract to develop and deliver webinars and workshops on social enterprise.

Unlocking sector potential means we support organisational learning, innovation and growth to amplify positive social impact. We believe greater action is achieved when the for-purpose sector is heard, supported and valued for the work it does.

Our Community - Data Labs is a $750,000, five-year grant to unleash the power of data for-purpose organisations in Australia. This funding employs specialist data scientists at Our Community House to grow knowledge of data at a sector level as well as assisting for purpose organisations to use data.
Our Community has published two resources, and built the capacity of 222 people (310 people hours of training) across 112 unique organisations.

The very widely known Justice Connect – NFP Law initiative has received a $75,000 two-year grant to support the delivery of resources to the for-purpose sector and develop a sustainable social enterprise model. During COVID19, Justice Connect adapted their business model and were able to deliver around 10 customised sessions per month (averaging 40 webinar tickers per session).  They have also devised a strategy to develop and test new fee-for-service offerings.

Funding for impact means we use our expertise and networks to identify the most effective funding solutions to deliver positive change. We use international best practice to drive innovation in how we fund and unlock capital for organisations.

An example of this in action include the First Australians Capital – First Australians Enterprise program, which was awarded a three-year grant of $300,000 to support First Australian-owned and led organisations by providing culturally appropriate enterprise capacity building, mentoring and support, and access to patient capital to ensure these organisations thrive.
If you would like to learn more about the Sector Capacity Building Fund or you wish to support the objectives of this focus area, please speak with your Relationship Manager.