New community foundation for South Australia

South Australia’s new statewide community foundation, Foundation SA will launch next week, providing a new giving opportunity for many donors and increasing support for a range of local communities.

Foundation SA was established with seed-funding from South Australia’s own Wyatt Trust, and aims to grow to $10 million within 10 years.

The Foundation will be the fifth community foundation in South Australia - along with Foundation Barossa, the Eyre Peninsula Community Foundation, the Fleurieu Community Foundation and the Stand Like Stone Community Foundation – but it will be the first to engage Adelaide, its suburbs and hinterland.

Foundation SA CEO Stacey Thomas, who is also a board member of Philanthropy Australia, said: “After the social, health and economic loss experienced in 2020, it has never been more important as it is now to look to the future with a view to how we can make a positive impact in our state.’’

The new Foundation has partly evolved from a demand from donors who were looking to fund causes and organisations but didn’t want to establish their own private ancillary funds. Foundation SA also enables donors to support causes such as animal welfare or environmental issues, which are outside the Wyatt Trust’s focus on supporting the disadvantaged.

Foundation SA’s Philanthropy and Engagement Manager Sophie Doyle explained that the Wyatt Trust’s strong connection to the new Foundation reinforced the original mission of Dr William Wyatt, by providing another legacy vehicle opportunity for South Australians, but it will operate as a completely separate entity.

The other four regional South Australian community foundations are strong advocates for their local communities and Foundation SA aims to support them by growing awareness of the community foundations and their important role. Part of that strategy is talking to wealth advisors about the opportunity for donors to use the new foundation for their giving.

Foundation SA is a perpetual fund that will grow its corpus from tax-deductible donations, from individuals, organisations, bequests and government. There is the opportunity for individuals, families and corporates to establish a fund of their own with the new Foundation, with an initial investment of $20,000.

There will also be a general fund that will be used for all South Australians, with regular grant rounds based on the needs of community at the time. Foundation SA is currently working on a Vital Signs report that will inform the areas of focus.

The Australian Communities Foundation is Foundation SA’s implementation partner, which has helped accelerate the new foundation’s entry into the growing number of community foundations.

“The strength of the community foundation sector is that they are so very strong locally, and doing great work getting more people to think about giving,’’ Sophie says. “They’re also nimble and flexible and able to respond quickly to a crisis, which they did so effectively during the disasters of 2020.’’

The 40 community foundations across the country distribute $30 million in grants each year, while having $454 million funders under management. The recent A Blueprint to Grow Structured Giving in Australia, released at the Philanthropy Australia conference, identified the importance of the community foundation sector as a potential significant contributor to growing the nation’s giving.

“Evidence suggests that people are more likely to give to causes they can identify with – indicating they may be more amenable to community campaigns,’’ the Blueprint states. “Community foundations are well placed to play a key role in this area, but they are currently impeded by red tape which limits their ability to grow giving at a local level.’’ The Blueprint proposes a new category of Deductible Gift Recipient (DGR) category especially for community foundations to deal with that issue. 

What is undeniable is the power of community foundations to tap into local communities and mobilise their support for mutual benefit. “Connections to people and place often run deep, and the impetus for individuals to give where they live or to places with which they have a connection through their family, life or work can be strong. In recent years, community philanthropy and place-based giving has gained traction as a mechanism to help address local challenges and drive social change both in Australia and overseas, particularly in countries such as Canada and the United Kingdom,’’ the Blueprint observes.

Sophie agrees. “There is huge potential for growth in place-based giving, especially after the engagement of so many new donors throughout 2020,’’ she says. “Foundation SA is working towards many of the initiatives outlined in the Blueprint. We’re also working with the South Australian State government on how they can engage more strategically with local community foundations.’’

Donors to Foundation SA can decide which cause areas they would like to support and grant a percentage of earnings each year to charities working on the issues that matter most to them.

Stacey says: “Foundation SA makes philanthropy easy and accessible for anyone wanting to give back without the administrative burden of establishing their own private foundation.’’

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