The 2016 revision of the Guide to Funders of Indigenous Causes has enabled AskRIGHT to observe some interesting trends over the past five years in the ways Australia’s philanthropic community funds this vital work. These trends could be seen to represent some of the broader trends in how philanthropy is continuing to evolve and mature in Australia.
Earlier editions of our Guide were much appreciated. Our Fundraising Consultants would give the Guide to organisations working to close the gap for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people without the resources to hire a fundraising team.
1. Funders remain committed to closing the gap
There was very little change in the names that pop up in the Guide. The same great family names in philanthropy are still there, such as Potter, Myer, Fairfax, Brockhoff and Pratt, as well as many lesser known but important family foundations, such as Balnaves, and Fogerty. The same big Australian companies appear, such as BHP and Rio Tinto. The mining sector continues to lead giving in this area, largely because of their mines’ proximity to Indigenous communities. The same seven international trusts who appeared in the first Guide are still active in supporting indigenous causes in Australia. Having almost the exact same list of funders allows for easy analysis of how their giving trends have changed over this time.
2. From open invitation to targeted funding
There has been a significant decline in the number of funders which make an open invitation for unsolicited proposals. The downloadable application forms and information about how to apply for a grant are gone. Instead, there is a noticeable effort by funders to seek out the opportunities which appeal to their giving philosophy. This especially suits companies, as they are able to target their funding geographically or to a particular field which provides synergy with their business.
3. A rise in formal partnerships
With such deliberate and targeted funding choices being made, it is not a surprise to see many funders making formal partnership arrangements with their favourite organisations. We now see funders supporting more than one Indigenous organisations, with multiyear funding arrangements focussed on medium to long-term goals. It demonstrates how these relationships have deepened, with funders more confident about entering into such commitments.
4. National organisations on top
It follows that the organisations which tend to have formalised partnerships with funders are the big Indigenous charities with national profiles, and are the most recognised for their work. Organisations such as AIME, Ganbina, and Clontarf appear again and again in lists of supported organisations. Does this mean smaller organisations are missing out? A more comprehensive, quantitative analysis would be required to say for sure. But with the formation of such partnerships and the closing of open invitations for proposals, it will be harder for smaller organisations to get a foot in the door.
5. Better donors
Funders have acquired a deeper understanding and respect of Indigenous Australians, and of the work required to close the gap. They are supporting multiyear projects or programs which focus on long-term, intergenerational outcomes, such as employment opportunities, developing Indigenous business, education, and the preservation of art and culture. They demonstrate their commitment to Reconciliation, with the vast majority of companies and large foundations developing their own Reconciliation Action Plans. It reminds us that our great foundations often possess a wealth of information on how to achieve social change, usually built on years of research and working relationships with practitioners and organisations close to the cause.
Thank you to all the funders listed in the Guide for your continued support to Indigenous Australians and closing the gap.
What is the Guide to Funders of Indigenous Causes?
The research team at AskRIGHT compiles a list of all Australian and international companies, trusts and foundations which are known to direct funds towards causes that benefit Indigenous Australians.
The Guide is updated annually but in 2016 a thorough review was undertaken, and the latest comprehensive Guide is now available. Indigenous organisations all over Australia can now access the Guide for free from the AskRIGHT website.
The Guide aims to be comprehensive. If you know a funder which is not listed in the Guide, please let us know: admin@AskRIGHT.com