Stories in philanthropy

2018: The year ahead

Resolutions? Intentions? Directions? 39 leaders from across the philanthropic community share their priorities for 2018.

Nicole Richards, Jan 2018

In the spirit of facilitating more peer-to-peer sharing of ideas and intentions, we put the following question to some of the sector’s best and brightest leaders:

What are your philanthropic/social change resolutions for 2018? Any key practices or philosophies you hope to implement?


Here are their responses.

My philanthropic resolutions are to continue to be part of philanthropy in my role as Director of the Inner North Community Foundation and perhaps other opportunities if they arise. As philanthropy is so much part of my life, I wish to maintain involvement in a way that allows me to enjoy the next stage of my life and also contribute to social change. I want to continue to share in the wonderful potential of philanthropy is make the world a much better place. I am leaving the door ajar….

Continue efforts towards collaboration for greater philanthropic impact.

I need to reinvigorate my personal passion to grow collective giving. A few changes in how I use my time will enable me to get back out there in 2018 for some in-person promotion of the joy of giving collectively

  • Establish a diverse reference group of sector mavens with expertise across our areas of interest
  • Keep working on establishing an evaluation framework that informs our grantmaking
  • Formalising our practice of staying connected with grantees undertaking long-term projects, beyond the funding period to track outcomes
  • Develop a suite of resources for grantseekers that helps build their capacity to present a stronger case for support.
  • Organise more opportunities for Trustees to engage with grantees and the communities they support.

2018 is set to be a hugely exciting year for Social Traders as we continue to play our role in disrupting the way in which procurement occurs in the public and private sector.  We have a new strategic direction that involves focusing all our efforts on connecting social enterprises to new contract and market opportunities, enabling enterprises to scale their operations and their social impact.


We’ve set ourselves an ambitious but I believe achievable target of creating 1,500 jobs for disadvantaged Australians by 2021 and have good momentum behind us as we continue to build our social enterprise supplier and buyer community over the next 12 months.

With the release of Greater Melbourne Vital Signs 2017 report in October, we have been able to see that the issues we are currently working on continue to need strong support.  The big question is how we can make a bigger impact? How can enhance our capability to collaborate, commission research, contribute to policy development, leverage other sectors and increase community awareness?

As a start, we are demonstrating this approach through the Affordable Housing Challenge. This will be a big focus for 2018. We are offering a grant of $1 million, a possible loan of $2 million via SEFA as an impact investment, and a site in partnership with a local government as an opportunity to demonstrate a replicable solution to the lack of affordable housing.  Our Advisory Committee includes urban planning and housing academics, developers, architects, policy advisors, lawyers and financiers.

In all our priority areas of work we will be looking to build new relationships and grow our current partnerships. We can do a lot more together than alone.

From a granting perspective, we will continue to support capacity building and also innovative projects. I see myself more and more as a social investor rather than simply a grantmaker. Sometimes a grant is the solution. Sometimes an impact investment will be the right support. Sometimes we need to contribute in kind support as well. We are looking forward to trying a program related investment when the right project comes along.

In 2018, we will need to have the courage to make the most difference we can. As someone from the finance sector said to me this year, “Philanthropic dollars are the most valuable dollars.’ Our community is in a time of transition in many areas. We are lucky in Australia to have so many not for profit and charitable organisations with leaders and teams, including volunteers, who are prepared to get involved and try to make the community a better place. Thoughtful philanthropy can help support a just and sustainable transition.

From a granting perspective, we will continue to support capacity building and also innovative projects. I see myself more and more as a social investor rather than simply a grantmaker. – Catherine Brown

My resolution for 2018 can be summed up in one word 'capacity'. We need to grow it, nurture it, value it and invest in it. Both in our own organisations and in those we fund.

I was recently discussing philanthropic strategy with a client. Her desk had a single symbolic placard on it. It said: “No one ever learned listening to their own voice”. It really resonated with me and I think it is so relevant – on so many levels – at the moment.

I think we, the philanthropic community – both grant makers and seekers - need to come together to prevent some of the systemic risks 2018 will bring. My resolution is to collaborate more.

I am not a fan of New Year resolutions. I don’t make them personally, and I would not share any in a professional capacity. My remit as CEO of The Ian Potter Foundation is to continue to evaluate and improve the manner in which we conduct ourselves as a philanthropic foundation. We want to conduct ourselves in a way that maximises the impact and effectiveness of our grantmaking, whilst also seeking to lead by example as an exemplar of non-granting philanthropy. Whether this is acting as a convenor, as a collaborator, as an advocate or as a beacon for good philanthropy – that is my aspiration for The Ian Potter Foundation.

Get out, further, more often: I never want to get in the way of what organisations do, but I’ve learnt that I can’t truly understand things until I see it. All the reading in the world doesn’t overcome first hand, practical knowledge. I resolve to make more time to get out of my inner-city CBD comfort zone more and see what’s happening more!

Focus on best practice leadership, accountability and excellence– both for Board Directors AND Funders.

Key practice – every conversation will focus on the beneficiary/client/society and relentless focus on measurement to KNOW that all these resources are making a difference!

At StartSomeGood we continue to see the power and leverage of combinations. The power of and.
Institutional and crowd funding.
Live and online crowdfunding.
Profit and purpose.

Our mission is to help make philanthropy more targeted, responsive and innovative by connecting it to crowd technologies. In other words, how do we involve the wider community in our work, to create not just financial capital but social capital? Because social change always requires the latter, and by using philanthropy as a catalyst for community co-investment we can set innovative non-profit projects up to succeed and create a greater impact.

We hope more leading foundations join the English Family Foundation, Foundation for Young Australians and Ian Potter Foundation in utilising this approach this year. Our resolution is to do everything we can to inspire and support this, so we can increase the pace of innovation in the social sector to catch up with the pace of change in the issues themselves.

In 2018 we will develop a stronger focus on identifying programs with measured outcomes and due to the small size of our foundation seek co funders to achieve scale.

My resolution for 2018 (and what I hope to practice) is to listen more, learn more, and to find more and better ways to acknowledge and highlight the incredible work achieved by so many in the not for profit sector. They are the unsung heroes who deserve to be recognised for their commitment and their successes.

To listen more, learn more, and to find more and better ways to acknowledge and highlight the incredible work achieved by so many in the not for profit sector. – Vedran Drakulic

My resolution for 2018 is to listen more and learn from the perspectives of so many talented individuals that are attracted into the social change movement.

The same as every year – Try Harder – Be Kinder – Give More. That’s what makes us happiest, and it is what makes our world a better place.

Continuing to grow an appetite for capacity investment in NFPs so they can build their strength to respond quickly in socially turbulent times. How philanthropy engages to support social movements has the potential to speed up change or hold it back.

I’ll be investing my time personally and professionally in participatory approaches to philanthropy. We have a responsibility to ensure that philanthropy sustains our democracy and empowers our communities.

As we continue to move towards a mass intergenerational wealth transfer, I’ll also be advocating for more charitable giving via estates while preparing the next gen to have an appetite for seeing impact but not at the expense of investing long term to address the wicked problems within our communities.

My resolution for 2018 would be to have the courage of my convictions and to take more risks and to encourage and enable the rest of the team here to do the same.

Get focused and measure our impact!  

1. MWF is aiming to fund grants in our fourth year totalling $150,000, which would reflect a growth in membership donations and numbers. This means increasing our Signature Grant to $100,000 (up from $75K), Nurturing Grant to $30,000 (up from $25K) and Merit Awards of $5,000 to each of our four finalists.

2. MWF will be launching a MWF Young Members group within our giving circle, aimed at students (to 21 years) and junior members (to 30 years) and at a more affordable joining rates. This is to start them on their philanthropy journey at a younger age.

To walk the walk. To give work, wealth and wisdom over and above my day-to-day involvement with charities and philanthropists. Practically, I’ll be trying to focus philanthropists on avoiding mistakes.  We hear a lot about best-practice and who’s doing what well. I’d like to help people avoid what I see as the most common mistakes I’ve seen in my career. I think there’s a lot to be gained by simply avoiding unintended consequences. Fundraisers aren’t really in the business of telling potential funders what not to do, so I will have a go, for their sake and the funders.

To continue to believe change for the better is possible, and to welcome new partners across philanthropy, business, government and the social sector to walk alongside us and help realise the outsized impact we can have together.

SVA strongly believes people need to be at the centre of our work, and that of the social sector. Without their voice, who are we to decide what we will ‘do’ to communities? We need to bring our skills, experience and knowledge – but only in the way that best serves the people we seek to assist.

And we’ll be doing more than ever to work with the broader ecosystem, and encouraging other sector organisations to do so, so that we and they share resources, learn from success (and failures) and share knowledge to become more effective at funding and delivering social impact.

Hoping to implement an amazing social investment measurement platform which will make my life easier! And would love to work with some start-up millennials to watch as they take on the world. Just wish I was 20 years younger!!

Just like the inevitable New Year’s resolution “this year I WILL eat well and exercise” my philanthropic resolution inevitably revolves around evaluation and getting better at capturing, measuring and communicating what has been broadly achieved or shifted with philanthropy. 

I think effective evaluation and compelling storytelling are two of the tools we need to inspire greater levels of giving to grow the pool of funds we distribute each year and to identify the best ways to tackle inequality and disadvantage and to create opportunity.

I just wish evaluating philanthropic outcomes was easier – like eating an apple and going for a walk each day.

This one is certainly practical over philosophical but I figure no one else will have this answer at least: Designing more effective systems. It's definitely the Grants Coordinator in me talking - but it seems that many of the smaller philanthropic organisations in Melbourne have simultaneously decided they need to bring their back ends into the 21st Century, i.e. updating or employing a CRM system. There are many challenges that go with this transition (security, data integrity, meaningful impact measurement etc.) and it's probably going to take the whole of 2018 to get it right for a lot of people. I'll be involved in this process with at least three grant making organisations, and will provide input for at least three more, so 2018 will be the year of data migration and work flow automation.

The Channel Giving Circle has a goal to hit 100 members by December 31, 2017 so, for me, 2018 will be about engaging new and existing members. I guess the philosophy I'll try to observe here is that social justice is both a process and a goal. Meaningfully engaging members to participate in the grant making process - from guidelines to outcomes sought - and therefore empowering them to decide what the best solutions and opportunities might be for their communities (in our case that's LGBTQIA+ communities) is as important as where the funding ultimately lands.

We hope to take the proven public sentiment against the continued extraction and burning of fossil fuels and for a transition to large-scale renewables and storage, and convert that into lasting change that is no longer opposed by governments beholden to the industry of dinosaurs.

At CPA we want to get better at using data to inform our work and the work of our sector; and we want to continue to collaborate with colleagues and organisations across philanthropy, business and the arts in order to have maximum impact where we are aiming to lead change.

Philanthropy is in good mental shape in Australia - we are having the right conversations but we don’t seem match fit - physically tough enough for the rough and tumble of success and failure; imposters both.

We need more social investment and more organizational capacity building funds including funding research and evidence.

Australia has been rated the lowest in all the OECD for collaboration.

We need new experiments in collaboration to help us get out of our own way, recover from our ‘terminal uniqueness’. Collective impact is one model that works.

At FYA we are going to work hard on collaboration in 2018 -  joining up and building deep ecosystems of young leaders, innovators and systems change entrepreneurs across sectors and disciplines and with lived experience.

It’s our best chance for the systemic change we desperately and urgently need if we are to address the global opportunities and challenges we face in sustainability of the planet, inequality, health and education. So #collaboration will be my mantra in 2018. I will be calling it out wherever I see it.

And luckily PA is here to help. Sarah and the Board have the courage to lead the way.

Philanthropy is in good mental shape in Australia - we are having the right conversations but we don’t seem match fit - physically tough enough for the rough and tumble of success and failure; imposters both. – Jan Owen

  • Making the most of the Churchill Fellowship opportunity is number one priority in 2018
  • Working with Elizabeth Proust to launch our Funders Group for Women & Girls in March is about fostering greater focus and collaboration among funders interested advancing gender equality through philanthropy
  • Asking more questions and listening closely to responses a personal resolution for 2018
  • Taking on the Stanford PACS message about data management for NFP’s is in the frame for next year too!

Different ways to align with other philanthropists to collaborate with governments, business, NGOs and communities to explore new ways of working together to address early child vulnerability. I'd like to see catalytic philanthropy taking a key role in convening and supporting different stakeholders to tackle this problem - to ensure all Australians can contribute to our nation in the future. We have got to think about how our historical learnings can be utilised to inform new solutions and be brave enough to imagine a different way of working that better reflects the world we are in.

One thing that I have been thinking about recently is that - news doesn’t happen the newsroom. Getting out and speaking with people in our community is important. It provides texture and feeling to what is happening in the world around us, and increases our stories of how donors and community groups contribute to prosperous, connected and cohesive communities.

One 2018 resolution is doing this with more intention, bringing others along, in order to demonstrate how money can be turned into community value through philanthropy.  

Impact investing, ethical purchasing and advocacy are three key philanthropy practices I’d like to see cultivated and nurtured in the sector in 2018 and beyond. There is a growing trend among our clients to explore more purposeful ways of using their investment portfolio, in additional to traditional grantmaking. Personally, I’ve made a commitment to trying to shop in a more sustainable way, such as from ethical fashion label The Social Outfit, that provides employment opportunities to people from refugee backgrounds.

Philanthropy Australia is now ready to start looking to and across the horizon and envision how it can make a real diffidence to philanthropy in this country - and therefore to make the country fairer and more prosperous.

Growing economic, social and cultural divides in Australia call for informed, nuanced and bold responses from philanthropy. There’s a great opportunity to harness the talents of people and communities locked out of economic opportunity and to tackle systemic racism and discrimination.

The role that philanthropy can play in promoting a low carbon future both through investing in renewable energy and in assisting the transition from fossil fuels will be crucial. We have a limited window to successfully make the change. Let’s do it!

2018 will be a testing year as ‘the market’ of philanthropy and charity comes under the microscope. The sector will be called to examine its values and purposes in ways and with an intensity that we haven’t experienced previously.

The issues that funders seek to address are bigger and more complex than can be resolved acting alone.

To have impact at scale, the sector needs to partner, network, exchange and build resources at a rate and level that it has not been used to – for our part, Reichstein will invest even further in collaboration and partnerships in the coming year.

While the challenge of creating more and better philanthropy remains ahead of us, and is increasingly complex, I’ve been struck by the work of earliest pioneers such as Neilma Gantner, Dame Elisabeth Murdoch and Betty Amsden. These three women gave significant amounts away with intelligence and enthusiasm, at a time when there was little structure or professional frameworks other than their personal acumen.  I salute them and am more curious than ever to understand how they sustained their giving.  

I will be upping the ante on building awareness about the Future Generation Investment companies I run, especially to larger nonprofits themselves who could be investor themselves (like The Smith Family and Giant Steps have done) but until now, they don't know about the investment opportunity and why it's attractive to them.

I will be advocating more for private sector funders to invest in youth mental health like Future Generation Global has done. We invested $3m in the last 12 months and are aiming to increase that to $10m pa by 2027. Very few corporates and foundations are investing in this chronically underfunded cause area. There are plenty of high quality nonprofits to invest in related to youth mental health.

I'm looking out for the next truly innovative philanthropic funding models.  In recent years, the likes of the Sohn Hearts & Minds Conference thanks to Matthew Grounds & Gary Weiss, Good Pitch thanks to Ian Darling, Adara Partners thanks to Audette Exel and the Future Generation Investment Companies thanks to Geoff Wilson, are to be applauded. I wonder if anything new is planned for 2018!

We are doubling down on gender equality. The evidence is clear that when women and girls are given every opportunity to fulfil their potential then the whole society benefits. The world does not have the luxury of ignoring 50 per cent of its potential, there is too much to be done. We are encouraging everyone to apply a gender lens to their own giving, to ask themselves the question: how will this benefit women and girls?  

2018 will be a year of reviewing the effectiveness of current projects and adjusting and realigning where necessary to take up some of our learnings from the Women Moving Millions Summit.

Quality not Quantity comes to mind and of course enabling capacity building in some of our existing projects will take a priority.

Skill up further on systems change in order to tackle big issues via a broader context.

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