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 organisations, 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.

Funding Pillars

At the September 2019 Board meeting, the Governors of The Ian Potter Foundation approved the establishment of four funding pillars that align with the Foundation's Vision for a Fair, Healthy, Sustainable and Vibrant Australia. 

Fair – Early Childhood Development and Community Wellbeing

Healthy – Medical Research Equipment and Public Health Research Projects

Sustainable – Environment

Vibrant – Arts and Culture

Each funding area within these four pillars has its own grantmaking priorities and objectives. Not-for-profit organisations can apply for grants that meet the funding guidelines of the above areas. 

The Foundation also awards Major grants which recognise and consider iconic or significant projects, most of which span several funding areas.

The Foundation proactively seeks out these iconic or significant projects. Applications are by invitation only.

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 fulfil their potential. 

For Indigenous Australians, walking alongside and working with them will increase their capacity and ensure that they are best placed to manage their own futures.


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 Glasspockets 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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