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6 min read

What I’ve learnt on my giving journey: Ede Horton

Profile of Australian Communities Foundation
Written by Australian Communities FoundationPosted on 31/5/2021

“Giving is a part of the way I live my life and help others and the next generation,” says Ede Horton, who has been giving through her Named Fund at Australian Communities Foundation (ACF) for over twenty years.

“It’s really a cultural aspect of who I am. I was very fortunate in that my parents were community-minded, so from a very early age, they instilled in me a culture of giving.”

After establishing the E.M. Family Trust in 1998, Ede found out about the giving community at ACF through friends and opened the E.M.Horton Family Fund in 2000.

“When I started my journey in philanthropy, I was naïve, daunted and scared about the whole process, but ACF provides a safe platform of connection between the grant applicants and the grant givers. With research and due diligence conducted by the team, I always feel more confident to make an informed decision.”

Today, Ede focuses her giving on education and community wellbeing, with a particular interest in supporting social justice and environmental sustainability through advocacy and community involvement.

“It’s wonderful to come to ACF and meet other people, and to talk about things that we’ve done, or to hear their journeys, bounce around ideas.”

Ede notes, however, she hasn’t always had the clarity she has now when it comes to her giving.

“During these 23 years, philanthropy has changed and so have I. I’ve grown more aware and confident in my giving, now working on longer-term projects… When I have a question, or I’m changing my strategy of gifting, the ACF community has the knowledge and experience to help me understand different options to consider and move forward.”

In this Q&A, we chat with Ede about her giving journey at Australian Communities Foundation, how her giving practice has evolved, and what she’s learnt along the way.

What do you enjoy most about being part of a community of givers?

I find that sometimes I can’t talk to my friends about philanthropy. It’s just something that they can feel uncomfortable about. So, it’s wonderful to come to ACF and meet other people, and to talk about things that we’ve done, or to hear their journeys, bounce around ideas. And of course, the staff are just so wonderful. When I have a question, or I’m changing my strategy of gifting, the ACF community has the knowledge and experience to help me understand different options to consider and move forward.

How has Australian Communities Foundation supported your way of giving?

I think ACF’s approach is very gentle. They tailor to the individual.

As a glass artist, I love being in my studio working – that’s a really comfortable zone for me. To be in a boardroom and to read copious amounts of wordy reports is not for me, so I really love the way ACF gives me succinct informed proposals and reports, which helps me in my gifting process.

What has been the most rewarding aspect of your giving journey so far?

“Hearing people’s stories and to see how projects have changed their lives really touches my heart.”

Hearing people’s stories and to see how projects have changed their lives really touches my heart. The blood, sweat and tears that go into the work to make change possible and the ingenuity, tenacity and courage is so inspiring. It’s a privilege to be part of this.

Have your giving interest areas changed over time?

Yes. In the beginning, I was choosing a variety of small projects working with migrants, coming to Australia to improve their opportunities as my parents did. I’ve broadened my thinking to what is the best strategy for positive social change in Australia now.

I could not have come this far without the support of the many staff members that make ACF such a warm and friendly community place. The knowledge they have shared with me, their advice and friendship keeps me focused, excited and committed to a better future.

Is your family involved with any of your giving decisions?

I talk about what I’m doing with my kids – they are busy living their own lives but I occasionally weave it into a conversation we are passionate about. Recently, I’ve had one of my grown-up kids – I call them kids – come back to me saying they’re interested in contributing, which is exciting.

Left: Ede supported Wildlife Rescue South Coast NSW during the 2019/20 bushfire season. Right: Oma Ede with Shifra and her two-day old sister, Raz.

What’s the most valuable lesson you’ve learnt about giving over time?

“Change takes time and patience. A lot of the work that’s being done is ground-breaking, and so it’s a journey for everyone.”

To listen and not be afraid to ask questions. Change takes time and patience. A lot of the work that’s being done is ground-breaking, and so it’s a journey for everyone. I respect an organisation that turns around and says, ‘Look, this hasn’t been exactly what we expected, or it’s going to take us a little bit longer, but we realise what we need to do now.’ I admire people taking responsibility for what hasn’t quite worked out, and being able to turn around and be flexible enough to get a better result.

What’s one thing you wish more people knew or understood about philanthropy?

Anybody and everybody can be philanthropic and there are different ways to do this.

People assume philanthropy is something that other people do in other countries – that it’s big organisations and it’s not community-based. And I think one of the wonderful things about ACF is that I’m a small individual donor and I can contribute my gifting with other people in ACF, and really make an impact.

I feel everyone wants to share and be generous. I’m at my best when I’m giving to others and being engaged in the world, looking towards a fairer and more equitable society.

What advice would you give to someone who’s just getting started or dipping their toe into philanthropy for the first time?

I think it’s so important to find an organisation like ACF that has similar values, that you feel comfortable to go in and talk with people and feel it’s a safe zone.

Interested in getting started with your own fund or foundation? Learn more