‘Culture is Life’ stated the young indigenous leader Lalatuai Grogon in the closing session of the 2018 Philanthropy Australia Conference. The conference earlier this year covered a wide range of topics based on the theme ‘Purpose: Is it enough?‘.
What struck me most was how the theme galvanised so many individuals looking through different lenses in the sense of purpose. At Blackbaud we say ‘The world will be a better place when good takes over’ and so it was with this gathering.
If we think about the perspective of Lalatuai, viewing through an indigenous lens, then philanthropy comes back to a connection with the land and the oral culture that brought together people, community and elders. ‘We have memories of walking to Tasmania’ stated a proud indigenous man in one of the panel breakouts.
If there is movement on restoring and re-centering indigenous culture, could that not be a spotlight that guides philanthropy; guides social good?
Philanthropy needs a strong voice. The indigenous voice was a beacon, and there were many other voices that showed passion, knowledge and spoke of so many situations across the globe where philanthropy and social good were making the type of fundamental impact that only philanthropy can catalyse.
There was a really thought provoking session that explored this in the context of the breakdown in trust. It showed that trust in social good organisations in Australia has fallen below 50% following the overall, and very evident trend across the globe, of people becoming increasingly distrustful of government, business, the media and the not for profit sector. The panel agreed that this just amplifies the growing void that philanthropy must fill.
To me it demands of us in the social good sector to be passionate, to tell great stories that our supporters can connect with, and to back that up with insights from measurement and data. If we do that collaboratively then we can achieve transformative impact and regain trust within our sector.
Here are a few of my key learnings from the conference:
- Collaborate and know that it will require investment in the capacity to collaborate – from the panel breakout session ‘Listen, Learn, Empower: Using Place Based Philanthropy to Activate and Make Better Use of Existing Resources‘ ∗¹
- Become an active and engaged investor – as a philanthropist, a social good organisation with an investment portfolio, or an individual with a superannuation fund we have a voice and the ability to make choices and to turn up at an AGM and ask the hard questions – from the keynote by Danielle Walker Palmour, Director, Friends Provident Foundation UK ‘We Must Rock the Boat to Get to Our Destination’
- Measure your impact and use this to amplify and scale the work you do. If you are not sure where to start, start here. Be ready as we are moving towards a time when measurement will become pervasive and ultimately formalised. ‘Data Driven‘ ‘Evidence Based‘ ‘Outcomes Orientated‘
- Capital will move towards high performing social good organisations that lack resources based on the movement in social value – from the keynote by Alan Schwartz AM, President, Philanthropy Australia Council ‘What’s Wrong With Profit’
- Know your WHY – Why are you here, what are your tools, where are you spending your time, where is your power – from the keynote by Danielle Walker Palmour, Director, Friends Provident Foundation UK ‘We Must Rock the Boat to Get to Our Destination’
I finish off with a simple statement that can guide us all ‘Go where your passion is and put your stitch in the tapestry‘ Audette Exel AO in the panel session ‘Navigating the Tensions between the Head and the Heart’ ∗²
I have included below details of the presenters being great people to follow and connect with.
∗¹ Moderator: Jane Hunt, The Front Project, Panelists: Fred Blackwell, The San Francisco Foundation, Jackie Currie, Southern Peninsula Community and Support Information Centre, Stephanie Exton, Mornington Peninsula Foundation, Alistair Fergusson, Maranguka Reinvestment Hub Bourke, June McLoughlin Our Place and Natasha Scully, Australian Social Investment Trust
*² Moderator: Jessica Roth, Founder and Director, Social Impact Hub, Panelists: Allan English, English Family Foundation and Council Member, Philanthropy Australia, Audette Exel AO, Founder and Chair, Adara Group, Ian Darling AO, Chair, The Caledonia Foundation and Executive Chair, Shark Island
About the Author:
Greg Simmons is the Case Management, Grantmaking and eTapestry Business Manager at Blackbaud Pacific. Through the good fortune of having a daughter born with Down Syndrome, Greg has spent almost 22 years sitting on not for profit boards and finance/fundraising committees. In 2012 he co-founded (with his mentor, the late Barry Easy OAM) the Kuringgai Chase Community-based Fun run to raise money for his local Special Olympics program. His passion comes from providing pro-bono fundraising advice to charities and helping them apply client-focused software to achieve their mission.