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Professor Kristy Muir

September 08th, 2022

“We are but one of the actors in the system and there is great opportunity for all of us to come together and co-create a different future.’’

Professor Kristy Muir, CEO of the Paul Ramsay Foundation

In a world of complexity, we can’t do any of this alone. None of us can. We are but one of the actors in the system and there is great opportunity for all of us to come together and co-create a different future. As a for-purpose sector there are challenges and opportunities we face and some of us are more experienced and more progressed than others in these opportunities and challenges….

I think we have the challenge and opportunity to be much better at applying systems thinking about those key levers for change, thinking about who the key actors are for executing those levers and how we work together for more systemic change.

Secondly, I think we can be much better at asset-framing. And we heard about how stories shape mindsets, how we think, act and do, matters enormously. We know the stories we tell have an impact and how we tell them. Trabian Shorters talks about deficit framing, meaning that defining people by their problems. I know over many years it’s almost been installed in my brain to think in that way. And it’s time to flick the switch. By comparison, asset framing is defining people by their aspiration and contributions before they give to not for profits. It assumes that kids, young people, families, communities - whoever we’re working with - have enormous values and strengths, while it doesn’t excuse the urgency of the issues we face….

We need to do work on how we increase equitable grantmaking and not just participatory grantmaking stage but how we rethink that, working more upstream. And how do we as philanthropists live our risk-capital rhetoric to invest in innovative ideas that might be highly unlikely but actually if we get them right could have such significant scalable impact.

And being responsible custodians of our resources. For example, through growing commitments to ESG, through impact investing and ensuring that the future that we want to be greener isn’t more inequitable as a result. Turning these possibilities in to realities isn’t going to be easy – it isn’t going to be quick, it isn’t going to be cheap. It’s going to require at least doubling giving by 2030, some significant leadership, some letting go and some serious learning, courage, joy, love, collaboration and shared purpose. 

This is an edited extract from a keynote address at the Philanthropy Australia national conference 2022.

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