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Annual Report 2021/22

25 Years of Giving

Australian Communities Foundation co-founders and Patrons Marion Webster OAM and Hayden Raysmith AM meet with members of our giving community.

Annual Report 2021/22

25 Years

Australian Communities Foundation co-founders and Patrons Marion Webster OAM and Hayden Raysmith AM meet with members of our giving community.

25 Years of Giving

We have come a long way since 1997.
Take a look at our growing support for communities over 25 years…

Number of grants (Total 9,581)

Funding by cause area (1997-2022)

Number of funds and foundations



25 Years of Giving

The Early Years


First independent community foundation in Australia

Melbourne Community Foundation is established by Marion Webster OAM and Hayden Raysmith AM.

Marion Webster OAM


First major initiative launched

Inclusive Communities Project


Leaving home

The Foundation moves out of Marion's spare bedroom and into its first professional office space in Flinders Lane, courtesy of the Reichstein Foundation.

Themed funds

The first themed funds are created to bring even more donors into the collective giving model.


Milestone: $1 million in grants given to the community


Sharpening our focus

The Foundation sharpens its focus on strategic initiatives with the help of US community foundation expert, Dorothy Reynolds.


Milestone: 30 new funds and over $1 million in grants distributed in a year


Raising our profile

Peter Hero, then CEO of the highly successful Silicon Valley Community Foundation in the US, helps raise the profile of Melbourne Community Foundation in the community, later joining the Board.

The team in 2006: Trudy Wyse, Andrea Heffernan, Leonie Mugavin, Raz Babic


Phase 1 of MacroMelbourne launched to bring sectors together to develop strategic responses to disadvantage, with the model laying the foundations for the later development of the Impact Fund.


25 Years of Giving

Becoming a
National Community


Milestone: 100+ funds

Scholarship Fund

Scholarship Fund is launched to support scholarship providers.

Developing our sector

The Foundation supports the emergence of the peak body for community foundations.

Peter Hero, Hayden Raysmith AM and Peter Singer AC at our 10th-anniversary celebration in 2007.


Gumnut Accounts

Gumnut Accounts are launched to help new givers build their own Named Funds.


Indigenous Donor Circle

The first formal Learning Circle is established to bring together donors interested in supporting Indigenous communities.


Taking the national stage

Melbourne Community Foundation becomes Australian Communities Foundation, reflecting its national presence and scope.


Milestone: Over $5 million in grants distributed in a year and our community reaches 200 funds

Top 50 Philanthropic Gifts

Marion Webster OAM and Hayden Raysmith AM honoured in Australia’s Top 50 Philanthropic Gifts for establishing the community foundation structure in Australia.


Milestone: $50 million in funds under management


ESG investing

The Foundation transitions to an Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) investment approach, seeking the best outcomes for the corpus, people and the planet.

Social justice advocate Shen Narayanasamy presents to our Refugee and Asylum Seeker Donor Circle in 2015.


25 Years of Giving

Creating a Fairer Australia


Best Small Grant Award

The Foundation's Refugee and Asylum Seeker Donor Circle wins Best Small Grant at the Australian Philanthropy Awards.

Launch of the Impact Fund

The Foundation hones its focus on impact to target the key areas of social, cultural and environmental justice, and launches flagship fund for collective giving, the Impact Fund.


First Impact Fund grants

$600,000 awarded to seven projects in the inaugural Impact Fund Large Grants round.


Indigenous Philanthropy Award

Woor-Dungin, ACF, the BB and A Miller Fund and the Williams Fund are recognised at the Australian Philanthropy Awards for the Criminal Record Discrimination Project.

DivestInvest announcement

The Foundation commits to divesting its $90 million corpus investment portfolio from fossil fuels and focusing on investments with positive environmental outcomes.

Community of Giving Hub

The Foundation establishes the Community of Giving as Australia's first formal philanthropic hub with the support of our giving community, the Reichstein Foundation and others.

Launching the Community of Giving in 2018: Maree Sidey, Jill Reichstein OAM, David Murray, Amanda Martin OAM, Hayden Raysmith AM, John Spierings.

Victoria's first Indigenous-led philanthropic fund

Members of Towards A Just Society, an ACF fund, hand over the fund to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community leaders to establish Koondee Woonga-gat Toor-rong.

Koondee Woonga-gat Toor-rong handover ceremony, Yarra Park, 2018.


Environmental Philanthropy Award

Seven ACF funds recognised at the Australian Philanthropy Awards for their collective support of the Community Organising Fellowship.


First impact investments

The Foundation announces its first impact investments, which are in the environmental and First Nations sectors.


Responsible Investment Leader

The Foundation becomes the first philanthropic foundation in Australia to sign on to the UN Principles for Responsible Investment, and is named Responsible Investment Leader by the Responsible Investment Association Australasia.

100% responsible investing

The Foundation meets its target of 100 per cent of its portfolio being responsibly invested.

Best Grant Program

The Rapid Advocacy Fund, a collaboration between Australian Progress, ACOSS and Australian Communities Foundation, wins Best Grant Program at the 2021 Australian Philanthropy Awards.

Milestone: Over $100m in grants given to the community


Five years of the Impact Fund

Our community celebrates five years of the Impact Fund - over $5m granted to changemakers tackling the biggest issues facing Australia.

Celebrating five years of the Impact Fund at the Victorian Pride Centre in 2022.

Reflections on 25 years from our co-founders and Patrons

Co-founders and Patrons of Australian Communities Foundation (ACF), Marion Webster OAM and Hayden Raysmith AM pioneered the community foundation model in Australia.

After a modest start in 1997, when the fledgling ACF operated out of Marion’s spare bedroom “with pen and paper and a MYOB program”, the Foundation is now home to 460+ funds and foundations which have collectively distributed more than $100 million across Australia and overseas.

Read the Q&A

Impact Highlights

Award-Winning Philanthropy

Over the past 25 years, our giving community has been recognised for some incredible achievements on our journey towards a fairer Australia. Here’s a snapshot of some of our biggest highlights.

Best Small Grant 2016 Refugee and Asylum Seeker Donor Circle

The Human Rights Law Centre (HRLC) was one of Australian Communities Foundation’s early partners on the national stage with the release of $5,000 to send the first lawyer to Manus Island, HRLC Director Daniel Webb. Support from the Foundation’s Refugee and Asylum Seeker Donor Circle helped establish the Asylum Seeker and Refugee Rights Unit.

“Australian Communities Foundation’s support for my first trip to Manus was hugely formative, both for me personally and for our work at HRLC. The grant helped establish our work in this space and build the impact that we continue to have.”

Daniel Webb, Legal Director, Human Rights Law Centre

Social justice advocate Shen Narayanasamy presents to our Refugee and Asylum Seeker Donor Circle in 2015.

Indigenous Philanthropy Award 2018 Criminal Record Discrimination Project

The Criminal Record Discrimination Project was a collaboration between academics, lawyers, politicians, Aboriginal groups and philanthropy including ACF. Woor-Dungin, an organisation that connects Aboriginal community-led organisations in Victoria and philanthropy, brought them all together and saw the project through.

“When we were talking to Aboriginal communities about the things they needed most to improve their lives, it was clear that ancient and often trivial ‘criminal convictions’ were a challenge to finding employment. This work led to old and irrelevant criminal records being removed from public record, including those given to Aboriginal peoples taken under the Children’s Welfare Act.”

Peter Flanagan, Secretary, Woor-Dungin

Representatives from Woor-Dungin and Australian Communities Foundation at the Australian Philanthropy Awards 2018.

Environmental Philanthropy Award 2019 Community Organising Fellowship

The Community Organising Fellowship is a six-month program that up-skills community leaders and changemakers, boosting their capacity to influence decision makers. Twenty-five community leaders take part in the Fellowship each year.

“Every year these leaders go out and train many others, so it’s very strategic capacity building that supports community development and campaigns. The Award was not just for us – there have been many funders supporting the Fellowship since 2014 so that’s a long-term group who are building the capacity of campaigning for environmental justice.”

Ann McGregor, Melliodora Fund, Australian Communities Foundation

Australian Communities Foundation funders Ann and Bruce McGregor (centre) at the Australian Philanthropy Awards 2019.

Best Grant Program Award 2021 Rapid Advocacy Fund

Established at the outset of Covid-19, the Rapid Advocacy Fund quickly raised over $150,000 for 25 community-led grassroots organisations advocating for change within windows of opportunity that opened during the crisis. The Fund is a partnership between Australian Communities Foundation, Australian Progress and the Australian Council of Social Service.

“Because the partnership behind the Fund consists of three organisations with a good knowledge of the landscape, one of the key factors contributing to its success has been the partner organisations’ shared knowledge of the landscape, allowing us to ‘fund at the speed of trust’.”

Georgia Mathews, Director of Philanthropic Services, Australian Communities Foundation

Tomorrow Movement used support from the Rapid Advocacy Fund to protest against cuts to JobSeeker.

Annual Report 2021/22

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