Education funder resource launched to help improve impact

Dr Jenny Donovan, CEO, Australian Education Research Organisation Fri, 15 Mar 2024 Estimated reading times: 4 minutes

Philanthropy Australia and the Australian Education Research Organisation (AERO) are pleased to publish ‘Advancing education: giving for school-aged learning and wellbeing in Australia’. This resource offers an introduction to gifting in education. It provides an overview of the system and organisations involved in ensuring quality, as well as highlighting challenges and ideas about where philanthropic support might be best targeted. AERO CEO Dr Jenny Donovan explains how it will benefit funders.

The resource is available to download on the Philanthropy Australia website.

At a time when acts of giving on a global scale are needed in so many areas, it is heartening that in Australia, education still receives a large amount of support from our philanthropic community. We might assume that the gesture stems from a sense of familiarity. Everyone experiences our education system in some way throughout their lives, and many people have some of their most formative early life experiences during their schooling years.

While the reasoning behind philanthropic generosity in education certainly aligns with what we know about donors giving to areas where they have personal connections or experience, it is worth entertaining the idea of another driver. Perhaps the motivation behind supporting education could instead be due to the evidence that we have about how much of a positive impact education can have on people’s lives. Education can lift whole families and communities out of disadvantage, support young people and their networks to achieve excellence and success, and transform both individual and collective lives.

AERO’s evidence can help funders identify where there are gaps to target in education funding.

At AERO, we are all about evidence. We analyse the evidence base, contribute to areas where there are gaps and constantly connect with the people who intersect with our education systems in different ways. We aim to find new and better methods to build evidence into everyday decisions and practices. This gives us a unique vantage point to understand the challenges and opportunities for improvement across our education system, which we are pleased to share with you in this guide.

We want you to see this guide as an open invitation to look at how one major part of education – schooling – works in Australia. Inside you will find ideas and guidance for how philanthropy can support improvements to students’ learning and wellbeing, as well as some of the best philanthropic opportunities to deliver the greatest impact.

The best way to consider these opportunities is by gaining an understanding of four key areas:

  • persistent challenges to educational opportunities
  • programs that improve educational experiences and outcomes
  • changing the system to extend and sustain benefits over time
  • working on emerging opportunities to mitigate issues or advance potential.

This guide is intended for grant-makers and anyone working in philanthropy to get to know Australia’s schooling system better. It presents an opportunity to consider and reflect on whether education is an area that matches your values and ways of giving. We have included some questions to help you interrogate how you might want to make a real difference in this space, to assist you with decision-making.

We hope this is an accessible, succinct guide that will assist you to consider supporting education as a proven way to tackle some of the social inequities that your collective work aims to address.

The resource presents an opportunity to consider whether education is an area that matches your values and ways of giving.

Our intention is that it will lead to further conversations about the worthiness of support for education to change lives and society for the better. This is what underpins AERO’s vision of achieving excellence and equity in educational outcomes for all Australian children and young people. We are always interested in discussions about how this can be achieved.

Philanthropy Australia should be applauded for the initiative of providing a guide like this, the first of its kind in Australia. It will undoubtedly play an important role in initiating work that benefits students, educators, families and whole societies well into the future.

The Australian Education Research Organisation is a national evidence institute working to improve excellence and equity in education. The resource is available to download on Philanthropy Australia’s website.