The voluntary Code of Practice was endorsed by the Membership of Philanthropy Australia at its Annual General Meeting held on Wednesday, 24 April 2002.
The code is based on some key principles about giving in Australia, which Philanthropy Australia commends to its giving Members. If you are a Member or otherwise involved in the philanthropic community, Philanthropy Australia encourages you to share and discuss this document with the relevant staff and directors/trustees within your organisation.
This voluntary Code of Practice constitutes a recommendation to full grant-making Philanthropy Australia members (as defined in the Constitution). Its aim is to encourage best practice, openness and transparency in all aspects of grant-making by these member organisations whether they are family foundations, corporate foundations or corporate giving programs, community foundations, private foundations or government-initiated foundations.
This code is based on some key principles about grant-making in Australia which Philanthropy Australia commends to its members. These include:
All Boards of grant-making members of Philanthropy Australia should be aware of the legal duties and obligations imposed on grant-making member trustees. In summary, the major duties imposed on a trustee comprise:
Additional duties may apply if the grant-making member trustee is a corporate trustee. The Board of a grant-making member that has corporate trustees should therefore be fully appraised of and comply with such additional duties.
The above is not intended to be a complete explanation of the legal principles that apply to trustees. If Boards of grant-making members have any doubt as to which duties apply to them or whether they are in compliance with particular duties, the Board should seek independent advice.
This code of conduct is a voluntary code. However, adherence to the code by grant-making members will ensure that members have a high standard of corporate governance that will in turn foster good practices and enhance public confidence in the integrity of the member.
Clarity of Purposes
Grant-making organisations should define clearly their purposes and the purposes for which they provide grants and review these on a regular basis.
Communicating to the public and to applicants/grant-seekers these purposes and the procedures that are followed in grant-making is in the interest of all concerned. Effective communication is important if the grant-making process is to function well and if trust in the responsibility and accountability of grant-makers is to be maintained. Wherever possible, grant-makers should disclose appropriate information regarding their grant-making practices, including geographic and policy limitations and procedures and timetable for making grant decisions.
Grant-makers must comply with the Privacy Act (Cwlth). They should respect the confidentiality of applicants, grantees and donors and use discretion in communicating with others about specific organisations and individuals.
Grant-Seekers should be advised of the monitoring, evaluation and reporting requirements associated with receiving a grant.
Grant-makers need to be alert and responsive to changing conditions in society and to the changing needs and merits of particular grant-seeking organisations. Grant-making organisations are encouraged to seek ideas and comments from a variety of independent sources with appropriate knowledge and expertise to add to the input from staff and board members.
Grant-making organisations acknowledge the importance of having an identifiable decision making body (hereinafter called "the Board") whose members should be nominated and for which succession arrangements for members are made in accordance with legal requirements, established principles and procedures.
Grant-makers also recognise the need for the clear definition of:
Grant-makers undertake to inform the general public about their activities in ways commensurate with the size of grant-makers operations. This may include periodic reports, preferably annual reports, possibly supplemented by newsletters, articles and the use of other communication channels such as websites.
Grant-makers must comply with obligations and restrictions at relevant states/territories and other jurisdictions in which they operate.
Grant-makers should ensure their management practices, investment strategies and use of resources are prudent.
Grant-makers should ensure appropriate internal control of resources and internal monitoring that would ensure the integrity of their grant-making process.
All grant-making organisations should review their purposes and organisation structures and assess the overall results of their grant-making from time to time. Consistent with the provisions of the legal establishing instrument of the Board, grant-makers should review the structure and membership of the Board from time to time.
In addition to the legal requirements that forbid staff, Board members and their families from profiting financially from any philanthropic grants (See Section 3) it is important that grant-makers weigh carefully all circumstances in which there exists the possibility of accusations of self-interest. In particular, staff and Board members should disclose to the Board the nature of their personal or family affiliation or involvement with any organisations for which a grant is considered, even though such affiliation may not give rise to any pecuniary conflict of interest. This may lead to the development of an appropriate conflict of interest policy for Board members and staff.
Grant-Makers are encouraged to maintain interaction with others in the field of philanthropy including Philanthropy Australia and its associated Affinity Groups as well as relevant state and national organisations. Grant-Makers are encouraged to share with others responsibility for strengthening the effectiveness of the many private and corporate philanthropic initiatives that serve the needs and interests of the Australian community.
Allan English, Philanthropy Leader of the Year
Michael Gonski, Emerging Philanthropy Leader