December 8 2022

CEO Update December 2022

By The Ian Potter Foundation

Smiling man in a suit leaning against a wall
Image courtesy of 101 Collins.

In the last edition of The Seahorse (#44), I announced my resignation from the Foundation. In preparing for the transition to a new CEO, I have been reflecting on my journey as CEO over the past seven years.

Since becoming CEO of The Ian Potter Foundation in October 2015, my team and I have focused on ensuring the Foundation is a truly strategic grantmaker that positively impacts those our funding seeks to support.

Signing off


With the benefit of hindsight, being strategic has manifested primarily in our approach to grant-making, including an increased emphasis on creating an operating environment and due diligence processes designed to identify grantseekers worthy of substantial, untied, multi-year support.

This resulted in the Foundation narrowing its focus to siz program areas, allowing our program managers to become 'subject-matter experts' with each program manager concentrating on a single program area. Similarly, within each program area, funding guidelines were narrowed and clearly articulated to our community of grantseekers. Funding guidelines have been placed on a 4–5 year review cycle, with internal evaluation capability assisting us to assess the merits of maintaining, fine-tuning or changing our approach in each nominated program area to tackle key issues.

Multi-year funding is now the norm for the Foundation (aside from single-year medical research equipment purchases), with the average funding duration increasing from 13 months in 2015 to more than 36 months in 2022. And finally, in 2022, more than 50% of our grants awarded (by value) were for core funding support.

The portfolio of grants across the Foundation's active grants is now clearly defined as one of the following:

  • Project grants that support specific programs or projects (including capital and infrastructure grants) for a pre-determined period
  • Capacity-building grants that help organisations increase their ability to do more in a particular area. For instance, a charity might receive a capacity-building grant to help it build its fundraising capacity. These grants are for a process rather than a project
  • Research grants that typically fund IPF's Healthy Research projects and IPF's Sustainable Research projects
  • Operating or core funding grants that provide ongoing untied financial support to an organisation. Such grants fund general operating expenses at the discretion of the organisation. These are highly sought by not-for-profit organisations but are hard for them to find.

I am incredibly proud of the journey I have assisted the Foundation to navigate during my tenure. I hope that in some small way, my efforts have taken us along a path to being a more effective, impactful and engaged funder working in true partnership with our grantees and the broader philanthropic community, ultimately, to create a fair, healthy, sustainable and vibrant Australia for as many people as possible.