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7 min read

Growing Giving: Foundation SA’s first birthday

Profile of Nicole Richards
Written by Nicole RichardsPosted on 10/6/2022

Twelve months ago, South Australia’s first state-wide community foundation, Foundation SA, launched with a little help from The Wyatt Trust and back-end support from Australian Communities Foundation as implementation partner and trustee.

In the space of just 12 months, Foundation SA has exceeded all expectations and is home to 18 sub-funds with a corpus exceeding $1.1 million.

“We set three priorities for Foundation SA in our first 12 months,” explains Sophie Doyle, Foundation SA Philanthropy & Engagement Manager. 

“They were to grow our corpus, consult with community to develop our strategy, and distribute funds through a grant round – and this is exactly what we’ve done.”

The community foundation model, which offers all the joy of giving minus the administrative headaches, appeals to a wide cross-section of donors, Sophie says.

“Our donors can immediately see the benefits of structuring their donations through Foundation SA,” she explains.

Woman take care of cypress plants

“The efficiency created by outsourcing the admin and reporting and the ability to have their money ethically invested for long-term growth without them having to worry about engaging an investment manager were the key benefits.

“Having all their giving centralised in a securely accessible online portal also makes life much easier at tax time when you’re trying to find your donation receipts!”

Australian Communities Foundation CEO, Maree Sidey, says the rapid growth of Foundation SA in its first year demonstrates the intrinsic value of community foundations as a way of growing giving in Australia.

“We’ve been thrilled to walk alongside Foundation SA throughout this process and share the knowledge, policies, processes and products we’ve developed over the last 25 years,” Maree says.

“We believe there is enormous potential for community philanthropy to help grow a culture of giving in Australia.

“The success of Foundation SA in its first 12 months is testament to the appeal of the model and we’d love to see even more community foundations launched across the country.”

The ease of getting started and the flexibility to tailor giving solutions to individual needs is a critical part of Foundation SA’s success, says Stacey Thomas, CEO of The Wyatt Trust which continues to provide valuable ongoing support.

“We have been thrilled to see how many South Australians have jumped on board with Foundation SA in its first year,” Stacey says.

The people behind the funds are fierce in their determination to make a difference within the community

“Foundation SA is developing our own community, one of generous South Australians who are coming together with a shared purpose of helping a cause close to their hearts.

“We have been so delighted to see the way the community has embraced this model of giving. Whether it has been the collective giving of individuals to enable an art or literary award, or the passion of a family to support First Nations Peoples and women into further education, the people behind the funds are fierce in their determination to make a difference within the community.”

The backgrounds and philanthropic priorities of the families, individuals, giving circles and businesses that have joined the Foundation SA giving community vary, but they are united by a common goal, to “achieve long-term impact on the causes they are passionate about.”

“We have individuals who’ve set up Gumnut Accounts which help them get started with just $2,000; we have families set up a sub-fund to help engage their children in their giving; we have generous people wanting to establish a legacy through a bequest in their Will; and we also have businesses that have established corporate funds to increase staff engagement through workplace giving,” Sophie says.

A mother with her little son is taking a bag of food at the food and clothes bank

The issue areas Foundation SA fund holders have chosen to support span arts and culture, empowering women, education, Indigenous youth, animal welfare, food insecurity, neonatal health, international aid, housing and more.

All giving is personal and the motivations for getting started are equally as diverse, Sophie explains.

“One of my favourite memories from the last year was receiving a call from a donor who’d read about Foundation SA in The Advertiser but who was halfway through the paperwork to establish a private foundation for his business,” she says.

“After asking a few questions he said, ‘We’d like to sign up!’ and within a week we had their sub-fund set up and they now donate a percentage of turnover into it each month and it has grown to over $50,000.

We have been so delighted to see the way the community has embraced this model of giving

“We’ve also had the pleasure of working with a lovely elderly couple in their 80s, who have no children and would like to support animal welfare in the Will by leaving their entire estate which includes an incredible antiques collection, to Foundation SA.

“This incredible generosity is something we should all be proud of as community members.”

Keeping it local

Providing support from, and for, local SA communities is the guiding principle upon which Foundation SA has been built. The last two years in particular, Sophie says, have brought the need for local support into sharp focus.

“We have a population of 1.7 million people in SA, and because of our size, we are connected and know how to work together to get things done,” she says. “Our communities have really come together to support each other.  

“The projects we saw in our recent Neighborhood Grants round demonstrated that with grants covering social connection groups and empowerment programs for women escaping family violence, engagement programs for at risk youth in Elizabeth, household energy saving education in community housing and a choir for women in the Western suburbs.

“As a community foundation we can raise the profile of small community organisations doing important local work and our donors are learning about these grassroots groups they might not have encountered before.

“We are introducing and connecting people to create long-term relationships where support flows not just through dollars, but in other meaningful ways such as volunteering time, business connections and pro-bono work.”

Setting new goals to grow giving

In the year ahead, along with the granting of its giving community, Foundation SA will distribute $135,000 in matched funding through the Matching program with the SA Department of Human Services.

“This is a fantastic opportunity for our sub-fund holders who can apply to have a donation to their fund matched by the DHS,” Sophie explains.

“I’d like to see our donor community and our corpus double in the next year which, based on the enthusiasm we’ve seen from South Australians over the past 12 months, seems very achievable.”

Learn more about community foundations:

South Australia is home to five community foundations: