Stories in Philanthropy

Advocating for those on the frontlines of climate change

Seed Mob is a small but dedicated group of young Indigenous environmental activists who are part of the broader Australian Youth Climate Coalition. More particularly, Seed Mob strives to reconcile its campaigning and advocacy with developing young leaders to drive change in their communities across the country. More>


Innovation drives regeneration

“I think we have seen for the past decade or more, a blurring of the lines between profit and not-for-profit,’’ WWF Australia CEO Dermot O’Gorman says. “And that’s not a bad thing. We’re seeing commercial players deliver more purpose-type impacts in their business and we’ve seen NfPs now move more to commercial-type operations.’’ More>


How philanthropy helps support new approach to water resources

After more than two years of research and analysis, The Ian Potter Foundation and The Myer Foundation, have established a national and fully independent policy centre focused on helping improve the way decisions are made about water and catchments across Australia. More>


Funders and advocates collaborate to restore what was lost

When Erika Hoyosama watched her colleague Rob Purves rise to speak at the 2017 Australian Environmental Grantmakers Network conference in Melbourne, she had no idea what Rob was about to propose – a plan that would, in a remarkably short time, be leveraged to underpin a multi-million dollar land restoration fund in Queensland. More>


Making the case for biodiversity and impact investing

Nigel Sharp is someone who has the sound of the country in what he says, the way people raised on the land used to speak – unhurried, unfussed, uncomplicated. But Nigel’s message is anything but old-fashioned: it is, in fact, full of the urgency of the environmental challenges confronting the globe and finding new ways to support regenerative agriculture and biodiversity. More>


Economists supporting JobSeeker boost on Budget eve

On the eve of next Tuesday’s Federal Budget, there is a widespread view that last week’s cuts to JobSeeker unemployment benefit will risk a strong recovery by slowing spending and jobs growth. More>


Saving the News

Geoff Wilson is sitting in a small quiet room with a view across a rural idyll in regional NSW. It seems miles away from the ceaseless news cycle that he has bought in to as one of 35 investors who became saviours of the national newswire, APP. More>


Calling every Australian to donate a special dollar

What happens when two young creatives at one of Australia’s leading advertising companies devise a plan to give life to the old saying: ‘If only everyone gave a dollar…’’? More>


“Who we are as a nation - Australians know, in their heart of hearts, this is the outstanding question in this country.’’

In this interview, Dean Parkin talks about his story, his mob and his path to his role as the director of From the Heart, an education project to campaign for an Indigenous voice to Parliament enshrined in the constitution. More>


How Australian Philanthropy Award for innovative Indigenous program on Country boosts vital work

Almost twelve months after the Warddeken Daluk (Women’s) Ranger Program in West Arnhem Land was recognised at the Australian Philanthropy’s Awards, one of the program’s funding partners has hailed the award’s role in growing its supporter base. More>


Saving Australia’s native oyster reefs

Philanthropy can play a catalysing role in the urgent battle to save the world’s precious ecosystems. More>


Embattled social sector identifies its immediate priorities

Funding, advocacy to government and public relations support have been identified as the most valuable strategic and operational priorities for COVID-effected social sector organisations, according to a new study of the sector. More>


Key issues identified in the RESET2020 study

Leanne Raven, Crohn’s and Colitis Australia’s CEO, has experienced many of the key issues identified in the RESET2020 study, from the hit to the organisation’s revenues and national volunteer numbers, to the valuable help from the Federal government’s JobKeeper package. More>


New research reveals need for heart screening technology

Rheumatic heart disease (RHD) sounds like an old-fashioned problem that belongs to the era of our recent ancestors, when school finished at age 14 and the motor car was a novelty. But the disease is still with us, and its pernicious impact is at its most devastating in Australia’s remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. More>


Community sporting clubs in COVID-19 induced crisis

Hundreds of community sporting clubs across Australia are in a COVID-19-induced crisis that will take at least $1.2 billion to ensure they survive, according to an Australian Sports Foundation survey. More>


Changing the prison system for mums and their kids

The situation is bleak and confronting: a woman goes to jail, often for a victimless crime, and leaves a family at home, her children either looked after by a relative or in foster care. Once that step is taken, a whole range of possibilities – only some of them good – can follow, but most of them are about the emotional and even physical distance between the kids and their mum. More>


TFC Response to COVID-19

There is understandable anxiety about the consequences of the Federal government’s JobSeeker and JobKeeper COVID-19 support programs undergoing changes in September or October. The Tasmanian Community Fund has set its sights on what happens when the changes take place, backing its local knowledge to respond to what’s happening on the ground, in its response to the pandemic’s impact. More>


Pandemic's mental health effect

The Black Dog Institute’s research that covers the early intense period of the pandemic shows that 78 per cent of respondents to an online survey reported that their mental health had deteriorated since COVID-19’s outbreak. More>


Our heath in lockdown

And as every piece of official advice reminded us, exercise was an excellent way to preserve good mental health. More>


Accelerating innovation in the natural world

In 2011, The Taronga Foundation made its first green grants to support conservation and environmental ideas that had potential for making a difference. The green grants, that put $150,000 into shaping important ideas about the ecosystem, have evolved into something new – an accelerator program called Hatch. More>


“Empower directly impacted communities’’, says US expert

Read a Q and A session with Chloe Cockburn, of Open Philanthropy in the US, in the lead up to her appearance at the Virtual Progress conference. More>


Campaign ramps up to keep JobSeeker rate beyond September

A group of more than 7,000 Australians who support maintaining the permanent increase to the JobSeeker allowance will be mobilised to directly engage Federal MPs to ensure the old Newstart rate of $40 a day will not be revived in three months. More>


New business initiative to help local communities rise from the ashes

Just south of Batemans Bay in NSW is a village called Mogo, with a population of about 300, a private zoo and up until late last year, a charming array of heritage buildings reflecting its gold rush heritage. More>


Crossing the pandemic’s digital divide

In a hospital bed in a regional Australian town, a middle-aged man is watching TV on an iPad. Just days earlier he was confronting the corrosive impact of profound social isolation. More>


Advocating for rapid progress

In the midst of the Federal government’s initial response to the COVID-19 outbreak, The Parenthood – a national NFP representing parents, carers and supporters – realised that it had to move quickly to insert itself into the childcare debate. More>


Diagnosing the difference between misinformation and the real thing

In a world gripped by a pandemic where anxiety, grief and uncertainty are rife, how can we be sure what’s true? How do we know who to trust? Where do we turn for guidance? More>


The road towards breaking the nation’s cycle of disadvantage

Two weeks ago the Paul Ramsay Foundation revealed its new strategy that aims to break the cycle of disadvantage in Australia. More>


Keeping the science on ice for climate change and krill seekers

It is vast, brutally cold, devoid of humans and seemingly unknowable to those who turn their attention to Antarctica. More>


The Virtues of Curiosity and Commitment

Genevieve Timmons is telling a story against herself. No surprise there. Those who know her will nod knowingly. She starts off on the tale, there’s the occasional giggle, a burst of laughter. If a smile can have a sound, it’s there in her voice. More>


New fund to provide relief for devastated arts sector

The one-off program, developed by Philanthropy Australia’s Arts Funder Network, will provide emergency relief to potentially hundreds of artists across the country.
More>


Communities Foundations in COVID-19

The power of local funds to ease the impact of national health crisis.
More>


Saving the word on the local street

Philanthropy has announced a package of measures to help sustain Australian media businesses as they do their vital work of keeping the community informed during COVID-19. 
More>


What did we learn from the GFC that can help us navigate the COVID-19 pandemic?

In the aftermath of the Global Financial Crisis (GFC) more than a decade ago, dozens of not for profit organisations, charities and foundations confronted challenging questions about their future. Now, those same organisations are once again asking similar questions, grappling with a global health emergency that has such widespread and profound impacts that it makes the GFC seem like only a mild shock in comparison. More>


Australia's most vulnerable COVID-19 communities

Knowing where to direct help on the ground. More>


Understanding the Impact: COVID-19

As the COVID-19 health crisis unfolds in unpredictable ways, there is an urgency to know more and try to keep ahead of the virus and its impact. More>


Finding purpose and kindness amid the crisis 

CEO of the GiveWhereYouLive Foundation, Bill Mithen, was wondering about how to respond to the COVID-19 challenge that could celebrate random acts of kindness. This idea became known as GPAK. More>


The nation’s arts in a time of pandemic

On the basic figures alone, the nation’s already vulnerable cultural sector has been brought to its knees by the advent of the coronavirus. More>


The possibilities of psychedelic medicine treatments for mental illness

Mind Medicine Australia (MMA) was launched in February 2019 by Peter Hunt and Tania de Jong to explore a new approach that could offer a bold therapy option for some people battling mental illness, particularly long-standing depression, post-traumatic stress disorder and addictions. More>


Behind the bank that has a social heart is a woman who wants to make a difference

When it comes to social disadvantage, there are many ways you can try to measure it but occasionally, the data unmistakeably leads in one direction. In 2018, Grameen Australia undertook an analysis of three areas of socioeconomic disadvantage – Fairfield in Sydney, Broadmeadows in Melbourne and Grafton in regional NSW – to work out where best to pilot its first Australian microfinancing project. More>


The school where education is just the start of the experience

It’s several weeks after the schools have gone back but there’s a still a big sign out the front of Doveton College that reads: “Enrolments being accepted for 2020.’’ The sign will be there all year, because newcomers are always welcome. More>


Rising to the challenges of a complex world

For a citizen of the world, with a global view and an intention to make a difference, Kristina Stefanova finds herself at a compelling juncture: there is the climate crisis, gender equity, complex international relations, the future of democracy and then there’s life, which just happens while you’re working on everything else. More>


Turning vacant property into transitional accommodation

In the complex, confronting and challenging aftermath of women and children escaping family violence, there is one part of the jigsaw that remains stubbornly elusive – transitional housing, that critical link between immediate relief at a shelter and a long-term solution. More>


Inspiring others to cope with genetics’ lottery

Krystal Barter describes her body as “a lemon’’. If it were a car, she’d ask for a trade-in. But here’s the thing – for all its faults and failings, Krystal Barter has managed to make something extraordinary out of her lemon that has helped change attitudes among hundreds of thousands of Australians. More>


Turning a hand to better school outcomes

It’s just over 20 years since Russell Kerr saw an opportunity to help school children at risk of losing their way by providing a practical solution that became Hands on Learning. More>


Taking a different route to bold granting outcomes

What’s the best career path to follow to ensure you end up in philanthropy? How does rest-of-the-world experience inform an understanding of how best to grow philanthropy? Whatever the route others have taken, it’s a fair bet that Niall Fay’s journey to CEO of the Fay Fuller Foundation is as distinct as it is intriguing. More>


Reflections from 2019 Philanthropist of the Year

Our 2019 Philanthropist of The Year, Philip Bacon AM, reflects on the importance of the arts and philanthropy in a year of debate about funding and support for the nation’s cultural industries. More>


2019 top five stories in philanthropy 

Here are our top five Philanthropy Australia stories that we believe captured the spirit and mood of the nation’s approach to giving in 2019. More>


How sharing stories promotes better outcomes for Aboriginal girls

In eight remote and regional schools in Western Australia, a special kind of engagement program starts with sport and finishes with stories. More>


A new approach to tackling the urgent challenges confronting the nation’s water resources

In Australia, our rivers, wetlands, lakes and groundwater systems are facing unprecedented challenges. Despite almost three decades of internationally recognised reform, Australia’s current management of its fresh water resources is unsustainable and good policy-making has become harder. More>


Spinning wheels to break cycle of disadvantage

Down among Melbourne’s legal precinct, where lawyers in sharp suits go about their business, is a small and bustling bicycle shop. It looks like any other bike shop, but hides a unique approach to for purpose work More>


The passion for giving behind the nation’s biggest cultural gift

The evidence of a life-long philanthropic commitment to the arts is contained in James Ramsay’s elegant handwritten notes that were sent to the companies he and his wife Diana supported. More>


Good is gold when it comes to the new standard for impact investing

In an age of tarnished corporate reputations, royal commissions into financial services, and deep mistrust about our banks, it is a telling moment when a new fund manager emerges with an impact investing focus on companies that have their priorities fixed on doing good. More>


High-level picture of philanthropic giving in Australia

A new opportunity to collaborate, reduce duplication of effort and build a shared learning resource across philanthropy has arrived with the launch of the Foundation Maps: Australia (FMA) Dashboard. More>


The secret behind the Wyatt Trust

There is one memory, a moment from history, that has stayed with Paul Madden after seven years running The Wyatt Trust. More>


Centralising granting data with Foundation Maps: Australia! dashboard

Next week PA will launch the FMA dashboard, a publicly accessible infographic that will display the granting data on FMA in a dynamic and easily consumed format. More>


Changing the rules to change a life

Last month, Max Elliott started work experience at the Ruggers restaurant attached to the Brothers Rugby Union club in Brisbane He knows the club pretty well: it’s down the hill from his home and he’s played a lot of rugby there. But it’s not rugby as many players know it and Max is not your average teenager.  More>


Philanthropy, Systems & Change: stories and tools for the future

At a recent global fundraisers’ retreat in Australia, there was a moment when the participants came to the agreed realisation that philanthropy’s moment for boldness had arrived. More>


Data reveals a mixed picture of Australia’s givers

How do you explain why some of Australia’s wealthiest people don’t appear to donate to a tax-deductible cause? What does it say about the nation’s well-off? And perhaps most compelling of all, what is the relationship between wealth and giving? More>


Grantmaking lessons put staff development at heart of NFPs

Four years ago, Australian Executor Trustees Limited (AET) embarked on a different approach to grantmaking by directing funds that would help not-for-profit organisations change and strengthen through a focus on staff learning and development. More>


What leadership looks like beyond the nation's cities and suburbs

“From a leadership perspective in remote, regional and rural Australia, the first point of reference for us is to stop talking about ourselves in deficit. That doesn’t mean ignoring what’s going on but not to start conversations that talk about that we lag behind the rest of Australia and we’re so far behind.’’ More>


Radical generosity and the art of the possible

How an act of ‘radical generosity’ is bringing the stories of one of the world’s most remote communities to the wider world and showcasing the art of the possible. More>


The fundamental things still apply after 40 years of giving

In celebration of 40 years of the Besen Family Foundation, the three themes are brought together in a special grants program that not only looks back to Eva and Marc’s early years but celebrates the on-going engagement of three generations of the Besen family. More>


Finding the memories behind a new generation of girls’ sport

Professor Clare Hanlon, the Susan Alberti Women in Sport Chair at Victoria University, is drawn back to her childhood memories on the family farm as she contemplates the next stages of engaging more young girls in physical activity. More>


What it takes to make documentaries that drive social change

In 2012, advertising executive Neil Lawrence approached documentary filmmaker Mitzi Goldman about a film project that was intended to reveal the full social impact of poker machines on the poorest people in Australia. More>


What we learnt at #PASummit2019: Sarah Davies

The 2019 Philanthropy Meets Parliament Summit - hosted by Philanthropy Australia at Parliament House and Hotel Realm in Canberra last week - examined the myriad of questions surrounding philanthropy in the service of democracy. More>


The thinking behind a passion for philanthropy: Karl Zinsmeister

The global picture seems bleak and challenges to democracy, equitable society and personal freedom are ever-present. Philanthropy gets caught up in the ebb and flow of the debates, sometimes described as part of the solution, occasionally labelled part of the problem. More>


When corporate life embraces values for giving

Origin stories come in all sorts of shapes and sizes, from Hollywood blockbusters, to real life suburban triumphs. Some tales are well-known, others rarely spoken about. What they all have in common is the importance of experience as a foundation for reflection and success. Peter Cooper’s story is no different. More>


Award winning Philanthropy: Insights from CEO Sarah Davies

What are the stand-out ingredients of award-winning philanthropy? Is it the project? Is it the collaboration? Is it the impact? Philanthropy Australia CEO Sarah Davies provides her insights More>


Shaking things up to give our kids the best chance of success

‘Disruption’ might be the word de jure, but it takes on a little more meaning within Teach For Australia (TFA) headquarters. TFA has spent the past 10 years pursuing its goal of finding ways to solve inequities so that where children live is no determinant of their future success. More>


Preserving the riches of a unique part of the Queensland coast

To Moreton Bay’s north is the glamourous tourism destination of the Sunshine Coast. To its south is the glittering Gold Coast, and to the east is the sprawl of Brisbane city. The bay is a distinctive coastal curve that is rich in biodiversity, Indigenous history and unique species. More>


Caring for vulnerable hearts in the nation’s remote communities

Maningrida is 500km east of Darwin, a small indigenous community in Arnhem Land, where the rich red soil clings to the sole of your shoes. It is hot and hard country. It is also a community dealing with a preventable disease that has caused illness and death across a generation. More>


New fellowship enhances 'cultural crusader' 

Terri Janke is the inaugural recipient of the Chief Executive Women (CEW) & Vincent Fairfax Fellowship at Cranlana Centre for Ethical Leadership, recognising her continued role in advising Indigenous cultural and intellectual property.. More>


Summit tackling the democracy deficit to build stronger communities

The temptation to become mired in pessimism about the state of Australian democracy might be strong: the evidence points to creeping disillusionment among Australians about their elected representatives and the institutions they serve. Most voters just want to kick the democracy tin can down the street. More>


Innovative funding approach to drug development helps combat disease

Thousands of pet owners already know the drug that is set to transform the lives of millions of people, many of them living in Africa’s sub-Sahara region. Its scientific name is moxidectin and veterinarians use it to treat parasites that infect domestic pets and farm animals. More>


Engaging from the outside in: Sevaun Palvetzian

When one of Canada’s leading thinkers on civic engagement, Sevaun Palvetzian, talks about what drives her, she focuses on the unseen, the invisible or the marginalised. More>


Honouring those working at creating lasting and positive change

The surprise appearance of a Nobel peace prize medal was one of the many highlights of an evening celebrating the best of Australian philanthropy during the past 12 months. More>


Leading Philanthropist 2019

Recipients: Philip Bacon AM. Read his profile story here>


Best Large Grant 2019

Recipients: Dusseldorp Forum, Vincent Fairfax Family Foundation (VFFF) and Maranguka Backbone Community Organisation, Bourke (Auspiced by Aboriginal Legal Service NSW/ACT) for Maranguka’s Justice Reinvestment Strategy. Read the story here>


Best Small Grant 2019

Recipients: Foundation for Rural and Regional Renewal (FRRR) and the Barcoo Way Committee for the Barcoo Way project. Read the story here>


Environmental Philanthropy Award 2019

Recipients: Melliodora Fund and 16 other funders, including six sub funds of the Australian Communities Foundation, for their support of The Change Agency - Community Organising Fellowship. Read their story here>


Gender-wise Philanthropy Award 2019

Recipients: Atlassian Foundation International for Room to Read Australia. Read their story here>


Indigenous Philanthropy Award 2019

Recipients: Klein Family Foundation and Karrkad Kanjdji Trust for the Warddeken Daluk Ranger Program. Read their story here>


International Philanthropy Award 2019

Recipients: Eve Kantor and Mark Wootton, the Kantor family through the Poola and Dara Foundations for the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) Australia. Read their story here>


Finding the light on the journey to making a difference

When Amanda Miller talks about philanthropy she uses a recurring phrase – ‘lighting the spark’. It’s a neat way of describing the moment when inspiration meets opportunity and signals the start of an individual’s philanthropic journey. More>


Charting the steps from award to the prospect of major legal change

Almost 12 months ago, Woor-Dungin and the Australian Communities Foundation received Philanthropy Australia’s Indigenous Philanthropy Award for an innovative project that seeks to introduce spent convictions legislation on to the Victorian statute books. More>


Football’s ugliest moment becomes a national debate

Ian Darling says he’s nervous. Still nervous after more than 12 months of engaging with the Australian Football League, its 18 clubs, indigenous footballers, more than 20 indigenous organisations, educators, schools and members of the philanthropic community about his latest film. More>


Ann Johnson and Philanthropy Australia: finding your community

When Ann Johnson reflects on the start of her philanthropic journey, she describes herself as an ‘immature giver’: she and her husband Warwick made donations in a fairly random way. A meeting in 2004 with Peter Winneke from the philanthropic services division at the Myer Family Office eventually led... More>


How big name charities are uniting to catch the wave of change

IT started informally almost four years ago with a tentative discussion between four charities about a new way of fundraising. By the first quarter of next year, Rippling is expected to be up and running, representing what could be a world-first for collaborative fund-raising. More>


Across the generations: James N. Kirby Foundation

In 1967 Australian industrialist Sir James N. Kirby surprised even those closest to him when he announced his intention to start a charitable foundation with an initial donation of $2 million, an extraordinary sum at the time. More>


Helping new leaders add value

DAVID Knowles’ epiphany came some years ago during a Melbourne conference when a visiting US academic asked some community organisation delegates to share their mission statement. More>


The power of a trusting partnership: Tim Fairfax Family Foundation & YWCA Australia

What makes a high-impact partnership? “Patience, flexibility and a belief in the organisation’s ability to do what they set out to do goes a long way,” says Tim Fairfax Family Foundation (TFFF) Executive Officer, Sam Jorgensen. TFFF’s multi-year support went beyond dollars to include advice, advocacy, “encouragement and moral support”, all of which helped YWCA’s Women of Worth program deliver extraordinary results and secure Australian Government funding. More>


Mobilising the future: The Toyota Community Trust

Toyota Australia’s philanthropic activities have grown and evolved alongside the company’s operations. The closure of its Australian manufacturing plant in 2017 paved the way for a new philanthropic vehicle: the Toyota Community Trust, dedicated to advancing STEM education for the next generation of Australians. Toyota Australia’s Katarina Persic says corporate philanthropy is no longer the “last cog in the wheel”. More>


Receiving an Australian Philanthropy Award was “like being given a Moody’s AAA rating”

Nominations for the 2019 Australian Philanthropy Awards are open, with this year’s selection panel chaired by Vincent Fairfax Family Foundation (VFFF) CEO, Jenny Wheatley. Jenny experienced the impact of the Awards firsthand when VFFF was awarded Best Large Grant in 2016 for its support of CareerTrackers, which has since gone from strength to strength. More>


Philanthropy and the ‘active investor’: Alan Schwartz

After five years chairing Philanthropy Australia’s board, Alan Schwartz AM will step down from the role in June 2019. Here he reflects on the changes and challenges facing philanthropy; why he views philanthropy as risk capital and not necessarily perpetual capital; and why he struggles with being called a philanthropist. More>


The accidental philanthropist: Michael Barr

The thought of a family foundation had never crossed Michael Barr’s mind until the day his father called a family meeting and announced he intended to start one. As the sole remaining founding family member, Michael has charted a course that honours the legacy of his family and is deeply committed to not just giving money, but giving it well. More>


“I want to de-stigmatise the word ‘philanthropy’ – it’s about so much more than just money”: Sophie Chamberlain

I wish more people understood that it’s possible to make a big difference even by giving a small amount,” says Sophie Chamberlain from Impact100 WA and the Spinifex Trust. “People often think philanthropy is all about money, but for me, time and expertise are just as important.”. More>


“Everyone gets a say and everyone has a voice": English Family Foundation

Brisbane-based English Family Foundation is best known for its evangelical support of social enterprise but, as a family foundation, it also holds space to accommodate individual preferences of family members. An annual family grant allocation has seen the Foundation step into the realm of advocacy with big results. More>


“Great leaders are truly inclusive”: Sam Mostyn on leadership, diversity and giving

Sam Mostyn is a leader in so many fields it’s hard to keep track. She’s won awards for her leadership and for breaking down barriers and bringing attention to issues ranging from diversity to Indigenous reconciliation and environmental sustainability. Her work may be complex, but the values that drive her are powerfully simple, reflecting what she calls the difference between a wealthy life and a rich one. More>


“One of the worst things you can do is leave your kids large amounts of money”: The Barefoot Investor

Scott Pape, aka The Barefoot Investor, reaches millions of Australians every week with his pull-no-punches take on personal money management. More than a million people own a copy of his book, “The Only Money Guide You’ll Ever Need” which still tops national bestseller lists. He’s since turned his attention to family finances and has plenty to say on the topic of giving: “Giving is so important. Whether or not you get this whole thing called philanthropy doesn’t matter. What matters is that you embed the values of giving in your children because that’s how you raise decent humans.” More>


Didn't find what you were looking for?

Check out our Story Archives

Philanthropy Weekly Newsletter

Sign up to our weekly e-newsletter for sector news, expert opinion and resources.

Sign up here

COVID-19 Funding Opportunities

Access the Australian Communities Foundation National Funding Portal for philanthropic funders to connect with the funding opportunities available to tackle COVID-19.

Access Portal here