Pushing boundaries, shifting the status quo

By: Nicole Richards   |   Head of Marketing & Communications   |   Australian Communities Foundation

The Impact Fund celebrates 5 years of collective achievements

L-R: Hugh de Kretser (Human Rights Law Centre), Maree Sidey & Georgia Mathews (Australian Communities Foundation), Hayden Raysmith (co-founder ACF), Bec Milgrom (Tripple) and Eric Beecher (Chair, ACF)

More than 230 funders, grant partners and philanthropic peers came together on 7 April to celebrate the fifth anniversary and game-changing achievements of Australian Communities Foundation’s flagship collective giving initiative, the Impact Fund.

“We’re here to push the boundaries, shift the status quo, and we do the work - not because it’s easy, but because it’s worth it,” Impact Funder and Tripple Director, Bec Milgrom told the assembled guests at the newly opened Victorian Pride Centre.

“A thriving future needs everyone to come along. It demands for us to think intersectionally, multi-generationally and deeply. And it’s this kind of tricky, sticky work that the Impact Fund is completely unafraid of.”

2022 is a year of celebration for Australian Communities Foundation as it marks its 25th anniversary as one of the country’s most dynamic philanthropic foundations and the fifth year of collective achievements made possible by the Impact Fund, as documented in ACF’s first-ever impact report: Making Change Together: Five Years of the Impact Fund.

“The Impact Fund is a simple enough idea,” explained Maree Sidey, Australian Communities Foundation CEO.

“It connects the people who want to give with the people who are making a difference. But it has a powerful ambition at its core: to give ordinary Australians the opportunity to come together with courage and conviction and make a real difference on the most difficult issues facing our nation.

“While individually it might feel hard to effect change, collectively it’s possible and tonight we are celebrating the fact that real and important change has been achieved.”

Over the last five years the Impact Fund has raised $4 million to support more than 40 civil society partners which has resulted in 15-plus changes in policy and regulation. Some of those significant wins supported by the Impact Fund and its partners include marriage equality, gun safety, reproductive rights, poker machine reform, farmer-led climate action, the decriminalisation of public drunkenness, protecting public interest journalism and more.

In a series of four-minute lightning talks introduced by event emcee and ABC presenter, Jacinta Parsons, Maree Sidey joined three other sector leaders, Hugh de Kretser from the Human Rights Law Centre (HRLC), Bec Milgrom (Tripple) and Georgia Mathews (ACF), to respond passionately to four provocations about the work of the Impact Fund: Why then? Why Now? Why Us? And What’s Next?

Hugh de Kretser, who had earlier described a grant the HRLC received from the Impact Fund to protect reproductive rights as “possibly one of the most successful grants in the Human Rights Law Centre’s history”, captured the tenor of the times and the challenges we still face as a nation.

“Right now, we are witnessing seismic shifts in our country and across the world,” Hugh said. “Democracy is under threat as authoritarianism and populism continues to rise. Lies, disinformation and division are being spread on an industrial scale, facilitated by social media and compounded by the under-resourcing of public interest journalism.

“These are difficult times but there is also great opportunity,” Hugh continued. “There’s a palpable sense that people will not accept the status quo and are joining positive movements for change to protect our environment, to end gender-based violence and discrimination; to demand racial justice and more.

“If we work together, we can forge a fairer and more compassionate nation, one where everyone can lead a decent and dignified life, where our laws, our policies and our institutions promote fairness and equality and where our governments always act in the best interests of people the planet and future generations. We know that the actions we take today truly have the power to shape a better tomorrow.”

Bec Milgrom, ACF fund holder and Director of Tripple, a 100 per cent impact family office that uses a combination of financial investments and grants to tackle some of the world’s biggest challenges, said she and her siblings were “proud to be a small part of the Impact Fund story”.

“As a next-generation wealth custodian from a line of successful and generous people who admittedly built their wealth through extraction I feel both the ability and the responsibility to use all of our capital as a force for good, to propel us towards a better future for everyone,” Bec said.

“We all know we’re in a unique moment in history where we can do more for the future now than we can next year or next decade, especially around climate.

“We’re continually inspired by the Impact Fund team’s focus on those with lived experience and shining light on the critical teams and opportunities that might have otherwise been overlooked.

“Every day we all make decisions that affect a future that is not ours to lord over and that will have consequences for billions of people we will never meet. What kind of world do we want to leave for populations who will have long forgotten us? There is just so much impact we can have when we do things together.”

Rounding out the lightning talks, Georgia Mathews, ACF’s Philanthropy & Engagement Lead, pointed out that the achievements of the Impact Fund continue to snowball.

“Change happens so quickly that the achievements listed in the Impact Report are already out of date,” Georgia said, noting that 19 more refugees had been released from the Park Hotel in Melbourne while also acknowledging the tremendous win made by Country Needs People, one of the Impact Fund’s longest-standing partners.

“Country Needs People secured $636 million in the Federal Budget to double Indigenous ranger jobs nationally,” Georgia told the crowd. “You could argue that Impact Funders just leveraged their contribution 3,741 times with that result!”

After outlining four new collaborations seeking support by eight existing Impact Partners, Georgia reiterated the power of targeted collective giving to catalyse lasting change.

“Something we’ve learnt over the last five years is that no one organisation can meet these challenges alone,” Georgia said. “No one funder can meet these challenges alone either. It follows then that we must not only give together, but give in support of our partners working together.

“Let’s keep collectively funding the boldest solutions to the biggest issues facing our country. We’ve come so far but the why: Why then? Why now? Why us? is still as pressing as ever.”

The Impact Fund is a movement of funders and changemakers working together to create a fairer Australia.

Apr. 21, 2022

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