Participatory Grantmaking: Shifting the Power Balance

Thought Leadership Series

Book your place at Philanthropy Australia’s 2021 Thought Leadership event, to join keynote speakers Lani Evans, Head of the Vodafone New Zealand Foundation (NZ), and Michael Jarvis, Executive Director of the Transparency and Accountability Initiative (US).

Choose from three different date options, with different panel members each day, to suit your schedule (registrations close 5pm the day prior to each event).

24 August 10am - 12pm AEST   25 August 11am - 1pm AEST   26 August 10am - 12pm AEST

Across the breadth and depth of Australian philanthropy, an idea is stirring. It may not be readily identifiable just yet but there are signs that participatory grantmaking is building momentum, sparking interest and triggering conversations around changing the giving dynamic.  

We’re seeing evidence that participatory grantmaking is not only being thought about, but also being practiced – although it might not always be described or presented in this way.  

Now, in our next Thought Leadership Series we bring together two international experts on participatory grantmaking to share their knowledge and experience: Lani Evans, Head of the Vodafone Foundation (NZ), and Michael Jarvis, Executive Director of the Transparency and Accountability Initiative (US).  They will draw on practical case studies and learnings to outline the benefit of this approach for funders and the community. 

Lani undertook a Churchill Fellowship in 2015 that focused on participatory grantmaking. In her report, Lani explained “When done well, participation can help people understand their own leadership and agency, enable decolonization and empower individuals and communities.”   

“For funders who aim to enable social change, participatory practice provides a social justice framework that values lived experience and helps funders bring their own values to life.’’ 

Michael works closely with leading philanthropic organisations to expand the impact and scale of transparency, participation and accountability. Most recently, he has supported Ford Foundation, Hewlett Foundation, MacArthur Foundation and Open Society Foundations to embed these practices in their giving strategies.  

Philanthropy Australia invites you to join Lani, Michael and a panel of Australian experts for an interactive, online, two-hour session to learn how philanthropy can adopt a participatory approach.  Be part of the discussion that will showcase how to shift the power dynamic in grantmaking and boost equity, inclusion and diversity, whilst also promoting the potential for innovation and collaboration.  

Choose from three different date options to suit your schedule (registrations close 5pm the day prior to each event)

24 August 10 - 12 pm AEST   25 August 11 - 1 pm AEST   26 August 10 - 12 pm AEST


Lani Evans - Head of the Vodafone New Zealand Foundation

Lani believes philanthropy can be a powerful lever for positive change and that grant-makers must take a bold, transparent and collaborative approach to funding.

She has been Head of the Vodafone Aotearoa Foundation since 2016, co-founded the Thankyou Charitable Trust, and is a board member of both Thankyou Payroll and the Peter McKenzie Project. She is a past recipient of the NZ Emerging Philanthropist of the Year, completed a Winston Churchill Fellowship focused on participatory philanthropy and was awarded a New Year’s Honour for services to social enterprise.

When she’s not working or volunteering, Lani can be found hiking, biking and running in the hills around Porirua, where she lives in an intergenerational household with her husband Hugh, her son Ara, her mother Ann, various siblings, two nephews, five chickens, one cat and two dogs.

Michael Jarvis - Executive Director, the Transparency and Accountability Initiative

Michael Jarvis joined TAI after almost two decades working on different aspects of the global good governance and development agenda. He has led the development of TAI’s new strategy and approach, and directs engagement across the new priorities for the donor members.

Prior to joining TAI in 2016, Michael was the Global Lead for Extractives Governance within the World Bank Group’s Governance Global Practice. He led the institution’s programming to reinforce knowledge, learning and innovative approaches to strengthening good governance in the critical oil, gas and mining sectors. Overall, Michael worked over ten years with the World Bank in a variety of roles relating to anti corruption, private sector partnerships for development, and multi-stakeholder governance. This included a focus on contracting issues through which he helped shepherd development of a new global initiative on Open Contracting to promote better outcomes from the estimated $9.5 trillion in public-private contracts globally.

Michael previously worked on industry codes of conduct and as a consultant on corporate responsibility and transparency issues, including a focus on the agribusiness, chemical and defense industries. Michael has advanced degrees from the University of Cambridge and Johns Hopkins University. He is a frequent author and blogger and misses his time as a radio DJ.


Stephanie Exton, Executive Director, Mornington Peninsula Foundation 

Stephanie is CEO of the Mornington Peninsula Foundation, where she works to connect donors and government service providers with grassroots community organisations and local businesses.

Over her 15 years in philanthropy, Stephanie has developed and refined a specialised approach to building networks for social change from the ground up. Combining grass roots conversations with leading research and data analytics MPF works with the community to assess crucial needs and provide targeted support. By building networks through structured collaboration between government, philanthropy and the community, MPF works as a catalyst to create supportive local movements for sustainable outcomes.


Peter Aldenhoven, Executive Officer, Willum Warrain Aboriginal Association 

Peter Aldenhoven is a descendant of the peoples of Quandamooka – more particularly, the Nughi clan from Moorgumpin (Moreton Island, Queensland).

Peter was a recipient of the 2017-2018 Victorian Fellowship of Indigenous Leadership, Emerging Leader award and the founding President of Willum Warrain Aboriginal Association, an Aboriginal gathering place on the Mornington Peninsula. He is currently the Executive Officer of Willum Warrain/ Men’s Business. Previously, Peter was the Executive Officer of Victoria’s first Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Community-led philanthropic sub fund called ‘Koondee Wonga-gat Toor-rong’ (give jointly/ share together in Woiwurrung). He has presented at two Philanthropy Australia conferences and two International Funders of Indigenous Peoples’ conferences on Indigenous philanthropy. He has also been an Indigenous educator and ran exchange programs for a decade to four remote Aboriginal communities in the Northern Territory.


Dr Liz Thompson, Executive Officer, SharingStories Foundation 

Liz Thompson is deeply involved in guiding the work of the foundation within Indigenous communities and is the organisation’s Executive Officer. She also works alongside senior knowledge authorities and partner communities implementing community-based cultural mapping programs.

A producer of media with over three decades experience creating stories for radio, television and print. Her work includes the series, Sharing Our Stories books created through a collaboration with 14 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island communities. The series won the 2009 Australian Awards for Excellence in Educational Publishing and was voted the best resource produced across primary, secondary and tertiary publishing in the country.

She has directed documentary films for ABC/BBC including Breaking Bows and Arrows, an exploration of reconciliation in Bougainville after the civil war. The film won the United Nations Media Peace Award for Best Television and The AIBD World Award for the Promotion of Conflict Resolution and the Grand Jury Prize at the 3rd International Festival of Oceania Documentary Film. Liz has produced numerous feature-length programs for ABC Radio National, online content, stories for international print media, and has published of over 30 books. Liz possesses a PhD from La Trobe University, focusing on self-representational digital media practices in remote Indigenous communities.

Chris Wootton, Director, Philanthropic Consulting Services

Chris is currently a trustee of the Campbell Edwards Trust, Director Philanthropic Consulting Services, Director, Giving Connect Pty Ltd, and committee member of the Shire of Mitchell Environment Advisory Committee. Some of his grant strategy/grant process consulting clients include: AET; The Bryan Foundation; The Phillips Foundation; Equity Trustees; JM Philanthropy; Stan Perron Charitable Trust and Optus.  

Chris was previously the CEO, Alliance for Water Stewardship Asia-Pacific and Philanthropic Services Manager & A/CEO at Philanthropy Australia. He has worked in the philanthropic sector for over 15 years managing the granting programs for some of the largest trusts/foundations in Australia including: Helen Macpherson Smith Trust; ANZ Trustees, William Buckland Foundation; Felton Bequest; Sylvia & Charles Viertel Charitable Trust, JO & JR Wicking Trust and RACV Community Foundation.

Chris was the inaugural CEO of WaterAid Australia, a new international aid and development agency which provides safe water, effective sanitation and hygiene education to the world’s poorest people. Chris has also held senior executive roles at Melbourne Water, Water Services Association of Australia and the University of Melbourne.

His other community roles have included: President & Board Member Community & Information Support Victoria; Board Member Julian Burton Burns Trust; and Co-opted Board Member of The Trustees for the Strathewen Bushfire Relief Fund.


Robert McLean, Board Member, Paul Ramsay Foundation 

Rob is a private equity investor and company director. He had a 25 year career with McKinsey and Company where he was Managing Partner for Australia and New Zealand, and most recently as a Senior Adviser to the firm. Rob has contributed to the firm’s strategy practice and served on its Directors Committee.

In business Rob served on the boards of CSR, Pacific Dunlop and Elders. He recently completed a second term on the Reserve Bank Payment Systems Board. He is an alternate director of Maths Pathway and a member of the Advisory Board of 5V Capital.

In education, Rob was Dean and Director of the Australian Graduate School of Management at the University of New South Wales.

In the community, Rob serves as Chair of The Nature Conservancy Australia Board and as a director of The Centre for Independent Studies. He was the founding Chairman of Social Ventures Australia and a former President of The Benevolent Society. The McLean Foundation, a PAF established by Rob and his wife Paula, funds initiatives in conservation, literacy and education.

Rob obtained a first class honours degree in Economic Statistics from the University of New England, and an MBA from Columbia Graduate School of Business, where he was a Fulbright Scholar. In 2011 he became a member of the Order of Australia for his contributions to social welfare, conservation and to business.


Jennifer Black, Acting CEO, Fitzroy Legal Services

 Jennifer Black is the Acting CEO of Fitzroy Legal Service. She has over 12 years’ experience as a both a lawyer and leader assisting individuals navigate the justice system and advocating for meaningful, systemic change. Jennifer has a strong commitment to the community and a fairer justice system having worked in criminal and civil justice systems, including forensic mental health, mental impairment and fitness to plead, family violence and specialist courts. She has a Master of Human Rights Law (LLM) through the University of Melbourne, with a focus on criminal law and disability (psycho-social) human rights. She is also an Accredited Criminal Law Specialist with the Law Institute of Victoria. She has held positions of community leadership including as a former member of the Executive, on the Yarra Drug and Health Forum.

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