CEO Report - Annual Grants Report 2017-18

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Dr Heather Neilly and Craig Connelly conducting malleefowl mound surveys with Earthwatch students at Calperum Station.

The Ian Potter Foundation has always proactively sought partnerships with not-for-profit organisations. This year has been no different with several new partnerships established through major grants awarded to organisations supporting Indigenous communities and people at risk of homelessness.

Similarly, the program management team has spent much of the year meeting with a wide range of leading and innovative organisations. This has culminated in funding some exciting sector-wide initiatives in Medical Research, Education and Science.

Over the course of the 2018 fiscal year, staff at The Ian Potter Foundation have instigated several collaborations with other philanthropic organisations to determine where philanthropic investment might be best deployed to catalyse impactful change.

One of these is the ‘Australian Freshwater Mapping Study’, jointly commissioned with The Myer Foundation.  The dual impacts of climate change and Australia’s growing population place increasing pressure on one of our most important resources: fresh water.  The lack of a national institution considering this important resource has led the Board, in partnership with The Myer Foundation, to further investigate what role philanthropy might play in assisting our nation to manage its fresh water resources well for all relevant stakeholders and protect its valuable environmental assets.

It is envisaged that this study will provide an informed understanding of the current state of play in this highly complex area and is our first step in determining where philanthropic investment might achieve the greatest impact.

The Ian Potter Foundation and The Myer Foundation are also collaborating to explore the possibility of initiating a leadership development program for not-for-profit CEOs.  This project is still in the research and planning phase and subject to board approval.  The intention is to create a program that develops both the soft skills of leadership and the hard skills of a seasoned executive, through tailored workshops and retreats which would allow participants to develop their leadership skills, establish enduring networks and foster collaboration between a range of social sector leaders.

This leadership development initiative follows on from the philanthropic sector support grant made by the Foundation, Gandel Philanthropy and Perpetual Trustees to Philanthropy Australia in 2017 in support of ‘More and Better Philanthropy’. A key component of this project was the development of Foundation Maps: Australia which has since been launched at the 2018 Philanthropy Australia Conference.

Each of these initiatives is different, but the one constant is genuine collaboration with like-minded philanthropic foundations seeking to fund initiatives designed to provide strategic and catalytic sector support, utilising strong evidence to guide the investment of our limited philanthropic resources.

Throughout the year, new funding objectives were adopted in the Arts, Health & Disability and Science programs. Further details of these changes to funding objectives can be found in the relevant sections of this report.

The Knowledge & Learning program areas have also been undergoing review. In May 2018, the International Learning & Development program was closed to further applications as preliminary evaluation of these grants indicated that they were not achieving the intended goal of sharing learnings across the not-for-profit sector. A review is being undertaken and will inform the Board’s decision on the future of this program area. The Travel and Conference programs are also being reviewed.

Lastly, the program management team has also grown and changed in the past year.  In early 2018, we welcomed Subhadra Mistry as Program Officer supporting the Arts, Education and Environment & Conservation program areas.  Subhadra’s appointment has enabled Mairead Phillips to move into a role dedicated to supporting The George Alexander Foundation and coordinating the new leadership development program for not-for-profit executives.

From September 2018, Nicole Bortone will be taking 12 months maternity leave. In Nicole’s absence, Rikki Andrews will join our program management team to manage the Education program area; the Science program area will be managed by Program Officer, Lauren Monaghan.

My program management team and I look forward to the coming year as we continue to embrace effective collaboration, seek informed partnerships with our grantees and other funders, explore ways to optimise the impact of the Foundation’s grantmaking so we can continue to present outstanding opportunities for the Board of The Ian Potter Foundation to consider funding.

Read the full Annual Grants Report 2017-18.


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