Being Grantmaker of the Year 2013

It’s all about visualisation!!….

The Australian Institute of Grants Management (AIGM) is a professional network linking grantmakers, grant managers and grants administrators from philanthropic, corporate and government grant making.  It provides support, advice and inspiration to people involved with all things grantmaking, with the aim of helping practitioners to achieve excellence.

In 2012, the AIGM inaugurated its Grantmaker of the Year Award.  The award aims to find out from those working at the coalface what they think could be done to enhance and improve grantkmaking in Australia.  It aims to find the leaders of our field and have them share their great ideas with their grantmaking peers and what’s really important is that it aims to give recognition to the great skills and professionalism that exists in Australian grantmakers.

The first award was given to our own Egg 1 (well done Caitriona!!) and the search is now on for someone to fill her award-winning shoes.  Anyone who has worked for at least six months of this year as an Australian Grantmaker can apply and if you’re the winner, you’ll be paid handsomely for sharing your grantmaking pearls of wisdom ($5,000!). I’ve heard mention so many great ideas about best practice and next practice, and how we can improve what we do.  Now’s the time to share them. And be paid for the privilege!

To nominate, you just need to complete the online nomination form at

Entries are open until midnight on Tuesday, December 4, 2012 and the winner will be announced in March 2013.

You can follow the musings of Claire Rimmer on Twitter via @ClaireMRimmer or the blog via @3eggphil


What the?!

When the news broke a few weeks ago that Deborah Seifert, CEO of Philanthropy Australia, had resigned after being in the post barely two years I was really surprised.   I was even more surprised when it was announced more or less simultaneously that the Director of ArtSupport Australia, Louise Walsh, would be stepping into her shoes.  After initially being a little bit puzzled at the seamlessness of it all, I began to think about the possibilities that having Louise at the helm might represent and things felt quite positive.  Interesting, even.

But what has unfolded this past couple of weeks has left me a little cold.  I really don’t know what to make of it all.  Which is not being helped by the fact that PA is revealing nothing to its membership.  Where is the communication?  Where is the transparency?  Consequently the rumour mill is running wild and people are not happy about the whole situation. Certainly, if the rumours are true there are big changes on the horizon which, if they are to be accepted, need to be managed (which they haven’t to date).  And so, what was an air of possibility has now become a distinctly bad smell.

All this and then the Opposition’s opposition to the ACNC.  Obviously I can’t pretend to know the whole of the NFP sector, but what I can say is that I haven’t heard the same wide-ranging doubts and concerns that Kevin Andrews, Liberal spokesman for families, housing and human services was recently quoted by Fairfax Media as having heard. However if there are doubts and misgivings, it’d be great to hear them….


Leopards can change their spots…

I have just been reading the fantastic conference program for the recent European Foundation Centre Conference in Belfast. From 6-8 June 2012, more than 500 foundation professionals from Europe and around the world gathered for the 23rd EFC Annual General Assembly and Conference to learn about, share and debate issues surrounding peace and social justice and other pressing philanthropic topics, from education to the financial crisis.  Take a look….  Definitely one to think about for next year (30 May – 1 June in Copenhagen, Denmark)!!

One of the many fantastic concurrent sessions open to delegates was Shedding light on our own practice: the impact and effect of our own behaviour.  And it offers a nice follow-on from the Eggs’ most recent post,  The Never Changing World of Philanthropy .

Shedding Light is a research project supported by Adessium Foundation, FACT, Fondation Philanthropia Lombard Odier, Oak Foundation and Pears Foundation, and coordinated by European philanthro-gurus Judith Symonds, David Carrington and Karen Weisblatt.  It’s part of the European Philanthropy Learning Initiative, a relatively new initiative which aims to strengthen learning and knowledge about philanthropy in Europe, to help Foundations positively enhance what they do.*

Consultations with 26 Foundations of varying sizes, histories and priorities from across Europe were carried out, specifically in preparation for the EFC Conference.  Each Foundation was asked a series of detailed questions about their work, practises and performance, and the responses were used to formulate recommendations regarding the practical steps every Foundation could take to improve or change how they do their work, to help them achieve more.  The recommendations formed the basis of the session discussion.  Instant grant-making think-tank!

There were two major things that stood out from the consultations: the need to enhance opportunities for peer learning and the need to develop a community of practice. In fact, one of the key recommendations was that a group of foundations from across Europe should form a community of practice to lead by providing resources, working to a jointly agreed plan, celebrating and promoting learning initiatives, supporting new initiatives and encouraging other organisations to take action.  Session participants were invited to be creative and critical in response to the findings.  Wow.  I bet it was a very long, impassioned discussion!  It certainly would be here but it sounds like a conversation well-worth having if it helps us to improve what we do.

Discussions from the session will be fed into a final report which has an as yet unannounced publication date.  I’ll keep you posted!

*The European Philanthropy Learning Initiative is an informal collaboration of donors and consultants. The first stage of the initiative, which was launched in 2009, commissioned a report, The Application of Learning and Research to Philanthropy (David Carrington)

You can follow the musings of Claire Rimmer on Twitter via @ClaireMRimmer or the blog via @3eggphil

Philanthropy, the Next Generation

The Australia Council’s Artsupport team held two private events last week in Sydney and Melbourne, to launch an initiative targeted at cultivating a new generation of giving in Australia. I went to the Melbourne event as an interested philanthrocrat, wanting to hear the stories of the three panellists (more about them below). But my interest was mainly sparked by a desire to know what’s being done to encourage greater giving in Australia, given the ongoing negative press about wealthy Australians’ meanness. It’s a common talking point, as our blog attests.

Artsupport’s purpose is to grow cultural philanthropy in Australia. It began in 2003 with just two staff members in Sydney but now has representatives in every state and territory (except Tasmania). It’s estimated that, so far, the initiative has facilitated more than $50 million of new philanthropic income to around 200 Australian artists and 600 arts organisations – as their page of the Aus Co website says, this is a strong outcome for a government investment of nearly $5.2 million: providing a return of nearly 1,000 per cent.

The two events last week are billed as stage one of a three-year ‘New generation of giving’ plan to build a community of young philanthropists, aged between 28-39 years, with inherited or self-generated wealth; through panel sessions, dinners and other networking events (a field trip to the US was mooted…..).   The younger generation, where better to start?

The Melbourne event was held at Comme, a swanky bar in Melbourne’s CBD and a favourite after-work haunt of the be-suited ladies and gentleman of the city. A smart choice given the invitees, if we’re to go purely on stereotypes that is. In fact the choice of venue called to mind my blog ’Giving is Sexy’ which explored UK research findings into why donors give and non donors don’t.

The three panellists were:

  • Dr Sam Prince, Founder of the Emagine Foundation and Zambrero Fresh Mex Grill Restaurants
  • Danielle Caruana, aka Mama Kin, co-Founder and director of The Seed (previously known as The JB Seed)
  • Thora Klein-Gibaud, Former Director, Jurlique International and someone whose passion for music is lived out through Ngaringa Farm Arts Foundation.

Each had a very individual story about what inspired them to give, how they chose the focus of their philanthropy, what they aim to achieve through their giving and, in a good reality check, some of the problems they experienced along the way. It was inspirational stuff and I hope the intended next gen philanthropists left the evening duly inspired, with a sense of what is possible, and a better understanding of the drive, determination, motivation and nous they will need if they decide to step up to the plate.

I was certainly inspired by Danielle’s story. To me it was the most accessible of the three (I am neither an entrepreneur, nor someone with inherited wealth). The Seed’s philanthropy was born on a very small scale, using collaborations which drew on Danielle and her co-Founder, John Butler’s, networks in the music industry to amass enough support to create a fund to “help Australian artists from any background, creating art and music across any genre, to establish themselves as self-sustained, professional artists”. It has since gone on to grow and grow, supporting more and more artists. In essence, it was a great idea which met (and still meets) a need and was able to galvanise people around it. Food for thought.  If you’re interested in knowing more about The Seed, this little youtube video will give you a great insight:  

The New Generation of Giving initiative has good potential and I’ll watch with interest to see how it develops, because it is of inestimable importance to encourage and nurture the next generation of philanthropists.

You can follow the musings of Claire Rimmer on Twitter via @ClaireMRimmer

Lucky you!

I read an article in Arts Hub last week which shook me in my grant-making boots when I got to the final line – “There are certainly some ground rules, but if you think that getting a grant is not a lottery, I wish you luck”. The article, Heads or Tails? Getting that grant, was written by Tamara Winikoff (Executive Director of NAVA, the national peak body for the visual arts, craft and design sector). She writes regularly on the arts for Arts Hub and various other publications and, given her extensive knowledge and experience of the sector, she has an opinion which carries quite some weight. I think that’s why I was so surprised and disappointed when I read what she had to say.

Perhaps I’m an idealist, but I like to think that every funding decision I’ve ever helped a Board or Committee make has been a fair one, based on a set of known funding objectives and with a clear rationale. Will the project meet a clear need or demand? Is it viable? Is the organisation viable? Is project planning and management adequately well considered?

And no, it hasn’t been possible to support every good project – usually due to budgetary constraints – but in this instance the project that appears to offer most to its audience and the applicant organisation, and will deliver most strongly against my organisation’s funding objectives is the one that will be supported. And yes, funding rounds are hard work and can be draining, but the decision-making process is a multi-layered one where each recommendation is seen by more than one pair of eyes.

Before coming to Australia I worked as a Grants Officer for a UK lottery distributor. Part of my job was to review draft press announcements prepared by grantees about their newly awarded grants. I was forever having to edit out lines like “lucky lottery win for xxx!” and “what a stroke of lottery luck!” because it was considered that they gave the wrong idea: getting a grant wasn’t in any way about luck or lottery, it was about a lot of thought and hard work.  Every decision was a very robust one which had to be transparent and accountable to applicants and the lottery-ticket-buying-public because, after all, them buying the tickets was what enabled support for these projects to be considered in the first place.

I have to admit, reading Heads or Tails, I really got the sense that I was reading the words of someone who’d reached the end of their tether; jaded by a few really tough weeks at work. I could be wrong. If I am, perhaps I have to take solace from Tamara’s recognition that there are ground rules to grant-making and hope that others have faith that getting a grant is not a lottery.

I feel like I might have co-opted Caitriona’s high horse….

Two little BIG words

I hate it when people don’t say thank you. Maybe it’s my upbringing? Whenever we were given anything Mum would always go – “what do you say?” – and me, my brother and sister would chime, “Thank youuuu“. After Christmas, birthdays, or any other occasion which involved us receiving a gift from someone, we’d be sat down to write thank you letters to let people know we’d got and liked their gift. The importance of saying thank you was instilled in us to such a degree that these days if I hold the door open for someone, for example, and am not thanked, it’s not entirely uncommon for me to say slightly sarcastically “no, problem, it’s my pleasure”. Or maybe it’s nothing to do with my lovely Ma and it’s just Curmudgeonly Claire rearing her head again?!

One of the things I love most about my job is when I get to tell someone they’ve been awarded a grant. If I’ve been in contact with an applicant during the review process, they’ll know when a decision’s being taken on their application and they’ll be expecting a call. There’s usually a nervous, anticipatory silence at the other end of the phone which, if I was sadistic, I’d draw out before letting them know the decision, but I’m not so I try to cut to the chase as soon as possible (and because I’m excited to tell them!). It’s so lovely when you hear a delighted “thank you!”. Makes all the hard work so worthwhile.  I can’t tell you how disappointing it is to call someone to let them know they’ve been given thousands of dollars if I get little reaction and no thanks.

I’m not saying grantee gratitude is the be-all and end-all in the decision making process. Of course it’s not. A poorly conceived project isn’t going to be supported simply because an organisation said thank you for a grant in the past. But it is important, and it is remembered. It comes back to that all-important grant maker/grant seeker relationship again (How to make friends and influence philanthropy and Too much or not enough?).

And it seems I’m not the only one that notices when someone says thank you. The June/July edition of Fundraising and Philanthropy Australasia had a story about a donation of $1m to Queensland University of Technology, recently gifted by Peter and Heather Howes.

The Howes’ have a long association with QUT: both are ex-QIT students (QUT’s immediate predecessor) and have a daughter who graduated from QUT; both were lecturers at QIT; and Peter was a member of QUT‘s School of Management Advisory Board.  They first contributed financially to QUT in 2009 and 2010 in its annual alumni appeals, when they gave relatively small amounts of money in support of the Learning Potential Fund – an endowment fund to support bursaries and scholarships for QUT students in financial need.  They began discussions with the University about the potential for them to make a larger gift after July 2010 when they sold the very successful human resources consultancy business they had jointly founded in 1982 (the sale giving them greater capacity to consider giving more significantly to QUT).  Before the year was out, these discussions came to fruition in the form of The Howes Family Gift: a $1m donation which was added to the larger LPF endowment, but to be used to fund discrete Howes Family Learning Potential Scholarships for disadvantaged students.

One of the factors behind the Howes’ decision to increase their philanthropic engagement with QUT was the phone calls they received from LPF fundraising staff thanking them for their 2009 and 2010 appeal gifts. Apparently this was the first time they’d got such personal thanks from an organisation they’d given financial support to.  As a consequence of this very simple gesture, the very neediest of QUT students can now apply for annual scholarships of $5,000 to support the cost of their study (more than standard LPF scholarships and bursaries offer), and there is also talk of the Howes contributing more money to QUT in the future to enable more scholarships to be offered. I wonder if LPF fundraising staff had any idea how powerful those two little words would be?!

While we’re on the subject of saying thank you…. thank you!!  Since we launched 3eggphilanthropy back in April, we’ve had almost 2,600 views of our site and enjoyed some fantastic thoughts and opinions on the blog site, and on Twitter and Facebook. We’ve also had some amazing contributions from fabulous guest bloggers which added so much to the conversation. It’s been a fantastic first couple of months and we look forward to everything that’s to come.  Scrambled, boiled, or poached….  Thanks again!!

If you haven’t subscribed to the blog yet, why not do it now?! That way you’ll be first to know when our latest musings have been hatched!

Giving is sexy!

Following all the chat among 3egg and co recently about the lack of giving in Australia and the offering of thoughts on what might be done to encourage it, I have something to throw into the mix!

What would you say if I said giving is sexy? Would it appeal to you? Would it make you grimace? It made me snigger – philanthro-geek that I am – but it did get me thinking. It’s definitely not the sort of language that is normally used around philanthropy but a UK report written for the Philanthropy Review in April 2011 suggests that this small but significant change in how we frame giving could be the key which unlocks all those “hidden” AU philanthropic $$ that we keep talking about.

The study, The Aha: Why donors give, why non-donors don’t and what to do about it, written by Carol Fiennes (CEO of UK Climate Change Charity, Global Cool Foundation) suggests that the reason some people don’t give is because they simply aren’t motivated to: that the way that giving is generally talked about only appeals to a certain group within the population.

The study draws on the outcomes of research carried out by the UK company, Cultural Dynamics, Strategy & Marketing, to determine what drives people to do what they do. CDSM surveyed more than 8,000 people with over 1,000 questions and, with the data gathered, was able to identify a series of fundamental psychological needs that we as people are trying to satisfy – the needs which drive our behaviours and the vision of the person we want to become – and segment them. They called this the ‘Values Modes’ segmentation.

The segmentation identifies that there are three types of people:

  • Sustenance Driven (SD)
  • Outer Directed (OD) and
  • Inner Directed (ID)

In a nutshell:

  • SDs are socially conservative – they’re wary of change, keep to the rules and want to be directed by authority. Their key need is to feel safe and secure;
  • ODs are driven by needing the esteem of others and want to be seen to succeed. They are a higher energy, fun-seeking group and are instinctive rather than analytical; and
  • IDs are always questioning and looking for ethical and intellectual stimulation. They don’t find change worrying and see global issues as their issues. They’re more analytical than instinctive.

The ‘Values Modes’ segmentation’s been used successfully for over 30 years in over 30 countries – for purposes which range from selling soft drinks to determining voting behaviours – and has predicted Value Modes with over 97% accuracy. For more info on CDSM’s work, click this link to their website. CDSM

If you hadn’t guessed already, us Philanthro-niks (Fiennes’ word for us philanthropeeps and my favourite to date!) are defined as Inner Directed people. I did the survey and despite giving answers that I was sure would lead to me bucking the trend and being an OD, surprise surprise, I was categorised as an ID.  If you’d like to do the short survey and find out which of the segmentations you are, click here: Value Modes Survey

Apparently much of the thinking in The Aha draws on Fiennes’ work at Global Cool, which is a charity that aims to get more people to adopt a lower-carbon lifestyle. Global Cool was looking into how to “sell” green lifestyles to people and realised that the way that they’d been doing it had resulting in them preaching to the converted: with campaigns developed by IDs which only appealed to IDs. They realised that their challenge was to make low-carbon living attractive to the OD and SDs of the world who they knew, generally speaking, were less interested in the issue. So they developed a series of campaigns to get people to make green lifestyle choices based on the things that motivate them. For example, one campaign works to entice people to turn down the heat in their homes by “turning up the style” instead – wearing beautiful, fashionable woolly jumpers to combat the cold with the added benefit of keeping their skin from drying out! Through the campaigns they seem to be capturing the broader imagination.  Brilliant!

I have to be honest when I first read the report, I found myself curling my lip and rolling my eyes at the suggestions it makes to encourage broader giving (maybe that‘s because I‘m an ID….and a bit of a curmudgeon?!). It all sounded kind of patronising….“make giving fun & social“, “make giving easy“, “avoid people feeling that giving is a loss“, instead of promoting giving at music festivals or in a serious newspaper, do it at a yacht club or a glitzy event with business leaders. Essentially, diamond encrust the carrot that’s dangled and make the promise of a feature story in Grazia magazine (for the ODs at least). But with a track record as strong as the segmentation’s in terms of determining motivations and behaviours, I did a 360 and started to think it’d be well worth trying it. If this is all it might take to increase and broaden giving, why not?!

One thing that stood out when I read the report, which worried me a bit given all the negative press here just now around giving, is that rather than talking about the lack of giving we should instead celebrate giving: to normalise the notion of doing this rather than exacerbate the trend to not give. It makes sense, I think. Talking about a wealth of giving creates the feeling that there is a scale of investment which makes problems tackle-able, rather than making them feel too big and too hard to deal with, creating a desire to sweep them under the carpet.

So…the question is….what do you think?  Should giving be “sexy”?!