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8 min read

Shining a light on the achievements of community philanthropy

Profile of Nicole Richards
Written by Nicole RichardsPosted on 3/8/2020

Each year, the Australian Philanthropy Awards recognise and celebrate extraordinary achievements in giving.

This year, for the first time, the Awards will also shine a spotlight on place-based, community-led giving with the new Community Philanthropy Award.

Presented in partnership with Australian Communities Foundation, the Foundation for Rural & Regional Renewal, Lord Mayor’s Charitable Foundation and Australian Community Philanthropy, the Community Philanthropy Award recognises philanthropic initiatives that address a local community’s current or emerging priority issue to create positive change and community empowerment.

Maree Sidey, Chief Executive Officer of Australian Communities Foundation, says wider recognition of the contributions made by community philanthropy and local community foundations is overdue.

“This Award is a way to recognise that hidden contribution and celebrate the powerful energy that is unlocked when people come together to give.”

“Community philanthropy has not had the acknowledgement it deserves in Australia,” Sidey says.

While big philanthropy tends to take centre stage, community-led giving has been quietly working away behind the scenes for decades to build social capital and local agency.

“This Award is a way to recognise that hidden contribution and celebrate the powerful energy that is unlocked when people come together to give.”

According to Australian Community Philanthropy, the peak organisation for community philanthropy, $31 million was granted by community foundations in the 2018-19 financial year, with the work of these foundations serving 8.5 million Australians.

With 40 independent community foundations now operating in Australia, Gerlinde Scholz, Executive Officer at Australian Community Philanthropy, says one of the key strengths of community philanthropy is its ability to bring together what she calls ‘coalitions of the working’.

“These are coalitions of people wo are not just willing to collaborate, but who actively work together, coming up with ideas that fit local needs and implementing them,” Scholz explains.

“We know that there is extraordinary creativity and variety in this sector. We also know that a lot of it is not known beyond the immediate local community where this great work happens. We would love to share some of these great ‘well-kept secrets’ with more people in the philanthropy sector and beyond through this Award.”

The same sentiment is true for Catherine Brown, Chief Executive Officer of Lord Mayor’s Charitable Foundation, who says that raising the visibility of community philanthropy is a key objective of the Community Philanthropy Award.

“Community philanthropy is the unsung hero of Australian philanthropy,” Brown says. “When local people come together to share their capital (financial and human) to address current local challenges, very meaningful change can happen.”

“Community philanthropy is essentially strategic collective giving. As a leading community foundation, Lord Mayor’s Charitable Foundation is very happy to support the new Community Philanthropy Award.”

With nominations expected to pour in from across the country, Natalie Egleton, Chief Executive Officer of the Foundation for Rural & Regional Renewal urges rural, regional, and remote communities to submit nominations.

“This is a chance to showcase the kind of impact that can be achieved by supporting grassroots work,” Egleton says.

“Community philanthropy often targets small yet catalytic actions that help to elevate voices, promote diversity, and ultimately give communities control of their agenda and future.”

“As a nation we are grappling with immense disruption and persistent inequity, and whilst adjustments to policy settings and economic systems are needed, there is also real power in investing in community knowledge and energy to drive solutions and enable change.

“Community philanthropy often targets small yet catalytic actions that help to elevate voices, promote diversity, and ultimately give communities control of their agenda and future.”

Nominations for the Community Philanthropy Award close 28 August 2020.

 

The Community Philanthropy Award is for activity in the last five years (2015-2019) – which may include design, funding, outcomes and/or impact.

 

All members of the Australian philanthropic and broader social change community are welcome to nominate. The Community Philanthropy Award recognises both the ‘funding’ organisation and the ‘doing’ organisation and nominees may nominate your own organisation.

 

The full list of selection criteria and the nomination form are available on the Australian Philanthropy Awards website.