October 20 2022

Flagship Grants - a new direction

By Craig Connelly (CEO) and Rohan Martyres (Major Grants Development Manager)

Aerial view of people coming together to form an arrow shape pointing right

The Ian Potter Foundation is pleased to announce the creation of a new, dedicated stream of work – Flagship Grants, as part of its existing major grants program.

Through these new Flagship Grants, the Foundation anticipates investing substantial funds over an extended period to support ambitious efforts to deliver transformative impact on pressing and entrenched issues of real significance facing the nation.


Being proactive

We will not issue 'open calls' through grant rounds for Flagship grants.

Instead, we will proactively identify issues and partners and co-develop the most appropriate ways to deliver lasting impact. We will do this in line with our funding principles and in genuine collaboration with other philanthropic organisations, the NFP sector and prospective partners appropriate to the issues.

An evolving context

Over the past five years, Australia has faced huge challenges, including devastating fires and flooding across the country and, of course, the COVID-19 pandemic. Communities and institutions across the nation have responded to these with tenacity, creativity, and innovation, collaborating with like-minded partners.

As Australia continues to deal with the effects of these and many other challenges, it seems very apparent that there is a need for the nation to think proactively about and plan for how best to deal with future challenges, known and unknown.

As one of the country's leading philanthropic foundations, The Ian Potter Foundation has spent the past twelve months thinking deeply about the role we might play in assisting the nation in preparing for such future challenges. Whether these challenges impact many Australian communities, specific vulnerable cohorts, or affect environmental ecosystems; we desire to assist the nation to systematically tackle the underlying factors and drivers that currently 'hold the problem in place'.

We see our role when considering such 'wicked' issues as providing thought leadership, capital, networks, and support of outstanding organisations and individuals well placed to lead in proactively and thoughtfully addressing some of the nation's challenges.

A dedicated new stream of work

This new initiative represents a change in how the Foundation considers and implements its philanthropy. Sir Ian Potter left an amazing legacy; the fundamental premise of his foundation is to 'give back' to the nation that had provided such opportunity for Sir Ian in his own lifetime.

The Ian Potter Foundation's Board of Governors recognises that as the challenges facing Australia change and evolve, so must the Foundation's thinking and approach.

It is obvious that as we consider the scale and breadth of the many challenges facing this country – such as ecosystem threats due to climate change, health system challenges as the result of an ageing population, or the significant impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on many sectors – there is no single organisation or group capable of solving even one of these challenges alone.

The Ian Potter Foundation has experience working with a variety of like-minded partners on a range of funded initiatives, so we understand the benefit of philanthropic foundations working alongside quality partners to address a significant issue. We want to take this further.

The details

Through its Flagship Grants, the Foundation will focus on important issues within and across its existing funding pillars – Fair, Healthy, Sustainable and Vibrant – anticipating that any initiative will, by virtue of its complexity and significance, address cross-cutting issues. We do not anticipate working on initiatives through the lens of a single funding pillar.

These initiatives will be co-designed with partners from various sectors and disciplines. We anticipate working alongside outstanding, interdisciplinary teams that can coordinate activity and leverage resources across philanthropy, government, industry, research, and the charitable sector.

We will also connect and learn from others already undertaking this proactive approach to mid-scale strategic philanthropy in Australia and internationally.

We believe that strategic philanthropy involving collective investments of $10m to $50m over approximately five to fifteen years can help bridge the gap and align the enterprising efforts of individual charities and research institutions on the one hand and large-scale government and industry programs on the other. But to be done well, philanthropy must also ensure the perspectives and experiences of communities most affected by each issue are included, heard and understood as an integral voice contributing to any proposal supported.

Next steps

The Board of The Ian Potter Foundation recently appointed Rohan Martyres to the newly created Major Grants Development Manager role to meet this aim. As a senior team member at the Foundation, Rohan will lead the development of the new initiatives.

Originally from Melbourne, Rohan has recently returned from the UK, where he worked in various roles, developing cross-sector collaborations for social impact, including in system change philanthropy.

Over the next 12–18 months, Rohan will engage with a diverse range of philanthropic foundations, social organisations, government institutions, bureaucrats, individuals and change agents across different sectors to identify the pressing issues that strategic philanthropy might consider addressing and work to co-develop approaches and partnerships that might deliver future Flagship Grants.

We are excited by the potential impact of our new work stream, mindful of the responsibility it brings and the stakes involved. We hope others will join us to work to identify and develop more impactful ways to create a fair, healthy, sustainable, and vibrant Australia.

Three previous cross-sector initiatives supported by The Ian Potter Foundation:
  • Watertrust Australia – A new institution seeking to use evidence-based, deliberative processes to rebuild trust and find common ground on water and catchment policy. Seeded with more than A$32m funding committed over 10 years from sixteen Australian philanthropic foundations.
  • Australian Living Evidence Consortium – A collaboration of researchers and health practitioners developing some of the world's fastest systems to deliver near real-time translation of health research into practice and improve care and health outcomes
  • Victorian Comprehensive Cancer Centre – An alliance of medical research, academic and clinical institutions that forges new, collective approaches to improve cancer prevention, detection, treatment, and care. A range of organisations, including philanthropic funds, helped secure $1bn in Federal and state funding for a new hospital site and $60m in state funding for operating costs.


Want more information?

For further information on Flagship Grants