December 8 2022
By The Ian Potter Foundation
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.
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:
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.