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Has there been a better time to listen to philanthropy?

September 02nd, 2022

To help provide some important perspectives on our national conference, we’ve invited three sector leaders to become our Keynote Listeners, to listen to what’s going on, to provide insights and observations throughout the conference: Naomi Anstess, CEO and Managing Director of SaltBlack; Niall Fay, CEO, Fay Fuller Foundation and Arminé Nalbandian, the CEO of the Centre for Social Impact.

Read their conference preview to find out what they’re looking forward to, the issues that are piquing their interest and follow them on our social media through the conference. They will offer their final observations on our conference in a special podcast in the next edition of Philanthropy Weekly.  

Naomi Anstess

CEO, Managing Director, SaltBlack


Naomi is a proud Aboriginal (Kamilaroi/Gamilaraay) and Torres Strait Islander (Erub/Darnley Island) woman, born, raised, and educated in Darwin on Larrakia Country. She is a mother of four beautiful daughters - Lilli, Pearl, Ruby, and Rose - and it is for them and the future of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, that she founded SaltBlack.

The notion of keynote listening is both intimidating and exciting. Moreso, I feel that it is an innovative activity that can deeply connect me to the program. I feel it as a sense of responsibility…. Responsibility to hear on behalf of my people, my industries, and our futures. I feel like the ‘wild card’ entrant on the keynote listeners list, and I like that. It makes me feel as though my listening can be different. It can be vibrant. 

As a first-time attendee to Philanthropy Australia National Conference, I will be listening for intent. As an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander woman in business and business enabling, I will be listening for integrity in intent. I will be listening for innovation in intent. I will be listening for impact in intent. And I will be listening for ACTION in intent.

So often in spaces of ours (Blak spaces), I hear words. Lots and lots of words and intent – but when I dig a little deeper, I find they are just words. Easy paths and low hanging fruit have been picked, innovation is really just the same old stuff wrapped differently, action is ‘gammon’ or barely there, and integrity is absent. 

I will be listening for nation building. 

I am looking forward to so much over the two days. Especially networking with people who are unafraid to have the important and challenging conversations about change and how to grow the nation. In all honestly, I am also excited about bumping shoulders with decision makers who can make immediate change. The list of attendees and speakers is humbling, and I will be fan-girling all over the place. I have tried to pull out a couple of areas I am particularly keen on.

On Day One, I will be intrigued to listen to the conversation moderated by one of my favourite and inspiring sisters, Catherine Liddle: “Taking Care of this Place, Australia: The role of First Nations Philanthropy.” Cath is a trail blazer and meaningful changemaker and I am a fan girl. 

I will be listening to hear if we are ready to talk about more than charity, and more than social services. The community led sector – and investment in it - is important for our mob, no doubt… but so is our economic development and investment in meaningful private sector wealth generating activities. We talk about the success of investment in Aboriginal Organisations, PBCs, Charities and social enterprises, but the ‘Gap’ has not closed. It has grown wider. Is this a matter of not enough investment? In “taking care of this place” I hope to hear about investment in enterprise and economic development for our mob that is truly self-determining. I hope to hear about being brave and seeing Blak Business as an important philanthropic investment stream to Close the Gap. 

Kevin Starr from Mulago Foundation will address the importance of impact in his presentation, and Amanda Miller will moderate a panel around insights of impact investment. Here I will be listening to learn and consider….what does impact mean to philanthropists? How serious are they? Is this (philanthropy) a Missionaries, Mercenaries and Madmen activity or a purposeful activity of integrity? 

On Day Two, I am keen to explore with the Panel on “The opportunities to grow structured giving” where I am excited to hear about innovation in philanthropy.

The session on “Shared Power: Shared Leadership” is also exciting for me. As a Blak Woman in Australia, the notion of shared power and leadership is important to change, growth and nation building. The concepts of power and leadership and convergence of the two is both conflicting and real. 

There is so much more to be excited about and I am ready to listen…. for impact.

Niall Fay

CEO, Fay Fuller Foundation


An experienced and proven executive Niall has spent the last 18-plus years working across roles that focus on the delivery of capability into government, private organisations, and universities to produce social good outcomes for the Australian community. As the Chief Executive of the Fay Fuller Foundation, Niall’s goal is to drive change around impact-driven, purposeful, and people-centred philanthropic funding.

It’s incredible to think that in less than a week, the philanthropic community will have an opportunity, for the first time in three years, to gather together ‘in the real’. 

What a wonderful chance to see so many faces that for so long have felt like two dimensional tiles in a never-ending game of Hollywood Squares! 

This year’s conference has something for everyone – from foundations or individuals just starting out on their philanthropic journeys to those looking to push our practice and impact even further.

Of course, what threads all these sessions together is both a reminder and a call to action, that philanthropy continues its commitment to the theme of this year’s conference, “For the love of Humanity: People, Place and Planet”. As the swell of interest around more and better philanthropy gains momentum, this year’s conference is the ideal opportunity for us as a sector to reflect and recentre who it is that more and better philanthropy must serve –the community. 

As we come together to meaningfully engage in debate around what better philanthropy looks like, we have to make time and space to reflect on whose voices are not being heard and how we go from recognising this, to taking action to correct it. To that end, I’m looking forward to conversations on Day One that explore First Nations Philanthropy and the pre-conference Masterclasses on What does ‘applying a lens’ to your program design and funding really mean, and to what end? and Building Our Cultural Intelligence. 

I’m also looking forward to engaging in the In Defence of Philanthropy session on day one and The opportunities to grow structured giving and Beyond Our Shores sessions on Day Two. As we set ourselves the challenge of meaningfully growing philanthropic giving, I’m looking forward to how these sessions might inform a path forward that encourages us to consider in what new ways we can truth-tell and challenge how the sector’s wealth is generated, invested, and utilised and how patterns of giving, both small and large, can continue to evolve. 

Agnostic of topics, I look forward to seeing both familiar and new faces next week, and, for the love of humanity, challenging myself and others to bring to life bigger and better philanthropy.  

Arminé Nalbandian

CEO, Centre for Social Impact


Arminé Nalbandian is a public policy leader who has spent her career advising governments and for-purpose organisations on social policy and economic development strategies. Most recently, she was Deputy Chief of Staff and Director of Policy to the New South Wales Premier.

It’s not often that we get the privilege to listen and reflect - and with our peers - which is why I’m so pleased to be a Keynote Listener at this year’s Philanthropy Australia conference.

It’s an excellent opportunity for us to re-energise our efforts, to connect and reflect on what lies ahead, and with so many compelling speakers and topics it’s a tough job to pick what I’m most looking forward to.

Here are a few of the sessions I’ll be heading to during the conference.

At the Centre for Social Impact, we enable people, communities, and organisations across Australia to take their ambition for impact and make it a reality. 

We also have a particular interest in enabling change at the system level which is why I’ll be listening with keen interest to the Day One session at the conference on “Tackling equity through systemic change: how intermediaries and philanthropy are responding to the complex problems of our time”, to better understand what this interplay can deliver for systemic change in Australia.

Philanthropy, large and small, has a powerful role to play as a backer of novel approaches so I’ll also be listening keenly to the conversations about the future directions for philanthropy and how we can drive change through catalytic philanthropy. 

To drive intractable problems forward, it’s no secret that we need to challenge the status quo and break down traditional sectoral silos.

Nothing challenges the status quo like bringing diverse perspectives into the conversation; new ideas come about with fresh perspectives. I’m hoping to gain insights from the cultural diversity in philanthropy session on Day One, including the role of First Nations philanthropy in shifting ideas and approaches.

Finally, at CSI we believe that investing in for-purpose leaders is imperative if we want the chance to have an impact on our most pressing challenges, so the conference session on driving leadership development for the NFP sector will be particularly compelling for me, especially in my new leadership role at CSI.

While I’m looking forward to all of the conference sessions, I’m most excited about the provocations, debates and conversations on the sidelines – after all, that’s where the magic happens.

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