Our Grantmaking Philosophy

The 2018 Questacon National Invention Convention delegates with His Excellency General the Hon Sir Peter Cosgrove, Governor- General; Professor Graham Durant, Director of Questacon; and Craig Connelly, CEO of The Ian Potter Foundation.

Funding Principles

Grantmaking across all program areas is underpinned by the following funding principles:

We support organisations, programs and individuals who are outstanding in their field.

To maximise the value of our grants, we try to identify and support projects that address the causes of any problems rather than treat the symptoms. Supporting research is fundamental to this approach.

We seek to fund programs and projects that take a new approach to solving problems, especially those that can be evaluated and have potential for expansion and further development.

Our grants have greater impact when combined with support from volunteers and other sources such as other trusts and foundations, government, and business. We are happy to be one of a number of supporters of a program.

We encourage grantees to have collaborations and partnerships that facilitate combining knowledge and resources to achieve a shared goal.

Long-term thinking
We try to fund projects that will continue to have an impact well beyond the period of our grant. The long term sustainability of the project is an important consideration. 

Social leaders

We aim to cultivate leadership in the Australian social sector that is highly skilled, well prepared and best placed to fulfil an organisation's mission.

Program Areas

Encompassing a broad range of endeavours, our program areas are:

  • Arts
  • Community Wellbeing
  • Education
  • Environment & Conservation
  • Health & Disability
  • Medical Research
  • Science, and
  • Major Grants

The Foundation also manages the Alec Prentice Sewell Gift which makes grants through the Education, Community Wellbeing and Arts program areas.

While each program area has its own grant-making priorities and objectives, the Foundation’s general principles are to fund prevention rather than cure, and to support and encourage excellence. We also look for innovative solutions and ideas, and assess the long-term sustainability of the projects we support. As a contemporary philanthropic foundation we believe it is important to work in collaboration with others. We take a strategic approach to grant-making to try to ensure each grant has the greatest possible impact on a particular problem, challenge or opportunity.

Further guidelines

Given the significant obstacles faced by many of Australia’s Indigenous people, The Ian Potter Foundation has developed specific funding guidelines for all Indigenous projects we consider.  The Foundation’s funding of Indigenous projects will focus on:

  • Early intervention/prevention/impact on whole of life outcomes.
  • Organisations that are enhancing Aboriginal leadership and capacity building, and aim at real success in jobs and tertiary achievement.
  • Groups that take account of Aboriginal knowledge, culture, healing and empowerment.
  • Long term, evidence based implementation with evaluation (i.e. not funding research unless it is translational).

It is our intention that through this approach, the Foundation’s philanthropy is making a meaningful and lasting contribution, supporting a vibrant, healthy community in which good ideas can be explored and every person has the opportunity to fulfill their potential.


In late 2017, The Ian Potter Foundation joined the ranks of the Gates, Ford and Getty Foundations to become the first non-US foundation included in Glasspockets,  a Foundation Center initiative that champions philanthropic transparency in an online world. Glasspockets promotes the value of transparency in philanthropy, encouraging philanthropic organisations to be more open in their communications, shedding further light on how private organisations are serving the public good.

To be included in the Glasspockets directory of philanthropic foundations, The Ian Potter Foundation had to demonstrate how it disseminates its mission statement, methods of contact, finances, processes and learnings. There are 25 elements that comprise the 'Who Has Glass Pockets?' assessment. The point of the assessment is for each foundation to have a road map to guide an internal discussion about what level of transparency makes sense for the foundation. Essentially it is a window into our internal and external communications strategy. The Foundation's Glasspcokets profile can be viewed by following the link below. 

glasspockets badge 185

To learn more about the Foundation’s work please visit the Knowledge Centre to view annual reports, case studies, Grants Database and gain further insights on our grantmaking. 



Support Australia's most innovative projects through a donation to The Ian Potter Foundation. Your donation will support projects that address areas of particular need or opportunity, managed by credible organisations with solid track records in their particular fields.

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