May 4 2022

CEO Update April 2022

By Craig Connelly

Green fern shoot unfolding

Building capacity

In April 2021, The Ian Potter Foundation commissioned an independent Grantee and Declined Applicant Perception Report.  This was the second survey completed by The Centre for Effective Philanthropy (CEP) and followed the inaugural survey conducted by CEP for the Foundation in 2015.

As part of this process, CEP provided the Foundation with several recommendations based on grantee and applicant feedback. In line with our commitment to transparency, I am pleased to share a detailed Response and Plan of Action outlining these recommendations and the Foundation’s plans to address them.

In summary, key learnings from the CEP Survey were:

  • The importance of the clarity of messaging on any public websites or other external material.
  • The benefit to applicants of streamlined application, reporting and acquittal processes.
  • The value of providing considered, non-monetary support to grantee organisations, extending our influence as funders beyond the provision of monetary support.
  • The importance of transparency by funders.
  • The importance to grantee organisations of capacity building funding, that is unrestricted and multi-year (our own duration for such grants is five years).

The Foundation's management team are working on each of these areas. Most significantly, the Board of The Ian Potter Foundation has approved a recommendation to increase the number of capacity-building grants as a proportion of the Foundation’s overall portfolio of approved grants.

This is already evident in the proportion of approved grants at the April 2022 Board meeting awarded as multi-year, capacity-building grants.

By sharing the lessons learned as part of our regular CEP survey, and providing some detail for interested parties to consider, we hope that other funders might contemplate these issues through their own philanthropic lens.

It is with a degree of sadness that I advise two of our staff members are moving on to new challenges. Subhadra Mistry, our former Arts Program Manager, has accepted an opportunity to work with a local council, supporting the development of an exciting arts program in one of Melbourne’s fastest-growing and culturally diverse local government areas. 

I wish Subhadra well in her new role and I anticipate a new Arts Program manager being appointed no later than August 2022.

Dr Squirrel Main has accepted a new role with the Paul Ramsay Foundation.  After seven years excelling in her role as the Foundation’s Research & Evaluation Manager, Squirrel felt the time was right for her to pursue this next exciting step in her professional career.  We wish Squirrel and also our friends at The Paul Ramsay Foundation all the best – as we know that they will all benefit from Squirrel’s expertise and enthusiasm for all things research and evaluation. 

In addition to recruiting a new Arts Program Manager and new Research & Evaluation Manager, I am pleased to share with you that the Foundation team will increase from 15 to 18 staff members.  In December 2021, the Board approved the appointment of three new staff members:

  1. A Program Officer, to support the program management team
  2. A Research & Evaluation Officer, to support Dr Squirrel Main (Research & Evaluation Manager)
  3. A Major Grant Development Manager

This third position is a brand-new position and represents an exciting development for the Foundation.  This role will develop “Flagship Grant” opportunities for the Board to consider that tackle some of the most pressing issues facing the nation for the benefit of the Australian community and align with the Foundation’s Funding Pillars.  I am hopeful that this investment will elevate the impact the Foundation achieves in assisting to create a fair, healthy, sustainable, and vibrant Australia.