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Australian Philanthropic Benchmark - Join the next wave!

November 27th, 2018

A core group of our members are current participants in the Australian Philanthropic Benchmark (APB): Origin Foundation; Dusseldorp Forum; Cages Foundation; English Family Foundation; Vincent Fairfax Family Foundation; The Snow Foundation and NAB Foundation are all committed to improving philanthropic practice when working with grantees.

The APB is a survey that identifies what a funder is doing well, what it could do better, and measures performance over time against an industry benchmark. This is achieved by seeking anonymous feedback from grantees.

While it is sometimes easier to keep things as they are, by doing so we may be perpetuating bad practice and ultimately delivering poor philanthropy. Over the past four years, seven philanthropic organisations have come together to encourage better understanding of the philanthropic sector in Australia through evaluation and collaboration with one another.

Sean Barrett, Head of Origin Foundation, facilitated a breakout session at the PA Conference this year, and it was clear from the numbers in the room that this is an area many PA members are interested in learning more about.

Since this session, PA has collated the attendee’s questions and discussion to provide a summary of what you need to know:

  • Who conducts the survey

Pollinate, a research company that does the work on a ‘low-bono’ basis.  The APB was established in 2010 by Pollinate at the instigation of The Origin Foundation.

  • Benefits

Each participating foundation gets private feedback on its own performance. The benchmark is arrived at by amalgamating all the de-identified results. Pollinate then hosts and facilitates a discussion with all participants on trends. This leads to peer-to-peer learning.

  • Who can participate

The tool works for all types of foundations: family, corporate, new and established.

  • Cost

Basic participation is $5,000. Most participate in the survey every 18 months to two years so the cost is incurred over that time frame.

  • How to get more information

The next wave takes place in March 2019. For more information contact Garrett Tyler Parker at Pollinate or (02) 9356 7500 or visit

PA supports greater participation by members in the APB and as we heard from a range of those currently participating, the APB leads to tangible outcomes and improvements in their philanthropy.

Sarah Davies, CEO, Philanthropy Australia, stated, “The Australian Philanthropic Benchmark initiative is a terrific tool to help grant makers hear feedback from partners and use this to reflect and assess on their activities and progress, against their mission and intent.  It is a tool that has been developed collaboratively by several sophisticated, experienced grant-makers and has been used for a number of years to help them refine and improve their practices, culture, approaches and ultimately impact.  The added benefit of sharing the results and feedback with a peer group provides a trusted and confidential benchmarking reference that allows sharing of good practice and identification of issues which might be deeper or more systemic than any one actor can address alone.

Philanthropy Australia embraces all analysis and sharing of quality data and insight regarding giving and philanthropy in Australia: feedback, assessment, reflection and learning are at the heart of what we do.  We know there several self-assessment and benchmark tools available and our members access and use a wide range.  For those looking to introduce a feedback mechanism, joining an existing collaboration with access to peer benchmarking has to be a hot option!”


“For us to have a complete view of the performance of the philanthropic sector it’s crucial that foundations do a better job of understanding their success against their own objectives but also as part of an industry benchmark, The APB already represents the largest dataset on philanthropic performance.” Rachel Kerry of the Cages Foundation.

“Unlike family foundations, we have volunteer, and matched-giving programs and the APB allows us to get feedback on these programs in addition to granting,” Sean Barrett of the Origin Foundation.

“Those of us involved have been able to improve our performance and impact. Adoption by others would continue to create an even more robust industry benchmark.” Teya Dusseldorp of Dusseldorp Forum

For more information and to sign up, visit the APB website:

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