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COVID19 continues to have an impact on our daily lives and a strain on the for-purpose sector

This time last year in the lead up to the peak of the FY20 granting period, the philanthropic sector was still reeling from the enormity of the Summer Bushfires of 2019/2020 and the grim reality of the community and environmental impacts of this natural disaster.  Then thrown into a global lockdown as a result of COVID19. 

Philanthropic funders across the globe faced unprecedented circumstances – how do we best support our most vulnerable humans, flora and fauna while also being amid a crisis impacting us personally?

Along with numerous other philanthropic funders, Equity Trustees adopted the Australian Philanthropy Pledge of 2020.

Across the sector, and among Equity Trustees’ active philanthropists and clients, one of the most asked questions of 2020 became:  What does the for-purpose sector need from us to get through this global pandemic?  How can I as a philanthropist, best assist the organisations I already support?

The Australian Philanthropy Pledge echoes the sentiments of Trust-Based Philanthropy.

At the core of this philosophy is a desire to rebalance the power dynamic between the funder and the for-purpose organisation – at a systems level (including the structure of our sector), at an organisation level and also interpersonally.  The aim is to develop a healthier, more empowered and more sustainable for-purpose sector.

Six key principles are at the core of practicing trust-based’ philanthropy:

  • Do your homework – identify your family’s values and vision and reflect on these regularly.Next map your grantmaking criteria, complete due diligence and then get to know prospective grantees.Ensure there are shared values.

    Avoid any unnecessary paperwork should you proceed towards a partnership.  Pave the way for a more trusting and rewarding relationship with your future granting partners.

  • Give multi-year, unrestricted funding – this gives grantees the flexibility to assess and determine where grant dollars are most needed.It allows for innovation, action, flexibility and sustainability.

    It is about trusting that the grantee knows best how to spend grant money.  This supports the stability and sustainability of the grantee and empowers them to deliver on the outcomes and the impact that philanthropists seek. 

  • Be transparent and responsive – open communication builds relationships founded in trust and mutual accountability.When grantees and philanthropists are transparent about granting criteria, funding and program delivery challenges, better outcomes can be achieved for all and the granting moves beyond just a transaction of resources.
  • Offer support beyond the money – this can be a way to build the strength and capacity of the grantee organisation and their leadership.Listening to their needs, challenges and opportunities may reveal other ways to provide support.
  • Solicit and act on feedback – social impact achieved through philanthropy will be inherently more successful if it is informed by the expertise and lived-experience of grantee partners.More often than not, supporting those with actual experience in the social area you are focusing on ensures they are the subject matter experts delivering change in the field.
  • Simplify and streamline paperwork – streamlining processes and reducing unnecessary administrative steps allows for more time for genuine learning and conversation with grantees, and frees them up to get on with the job!

COVID19 put trust to the test in Australia, seeing Non-Government Organisations come out relatively strong.  The 2021 Edelman Trust Barometer demonstrated that in Australia, over the last 12 months, trust in NGOs has improved.  In 2020, trust was at 54% which increased +8 to 62% who trust in the sector. 

COVID19 continues to have an impact on our daily lives and the strain on the for-purpose sector remains acute.  Community need has not abated and as you contemplate where your grants should be distributed in FY21, we hope that; the Australian Philanthropy Pledge remains front-of-mind, that we continue to listen, consult and place our trust in our for-purpose sector and that we continue to build trust-based relationships with our granting beneficiaries.