In what can only be described as an immense and intense one day program, Philanthropy Australia’s 2023 Philanthropy Meets Parliament Summit certainly provided robust discussion, thought-provoking content and a lot of calls to action for all concerned; philanthropy, government and the community sector.   

Problem solving not possible without philanthropy  

The conference opened with a fabulous video featuring Emeritus Professor Ian Frazer, co-developer of the HPV vaccine against cervical cancer at the University of Queensland, who states, ‘Without Philanthropy, it’s nearly impossible to start solving a problem.’ He goes on to discuss the fact that Philanthropy funds what you MIGHT achieve and enables the power to investigate, citing that his vaccine work would not have been possible without philanthropic investment. And that since the initial discovery and development, further philanthropic investment is enabling the distribution through third world counties, with additional funding from the likes of The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. A brilliant case study to highlight the importance of encouraging the growth of giving in line with the growth of wealth and those with the capacity to give.   

What will happen if your Charity doesn’t exist?  

A panel followed, in which the Hon Dr Andrew Leigh MP, Assistant Minister for Competition, Charities and Treasury asked the question, ‘what would happen if charities didn’t exist?’ We love this question. It is a great one to not only discuss at the macro, whole of society level, but also at the micro, internal level, when presenting your mission to prospective donors, whether they be individuals, corporates, government or philanthropic entities.  

You can read Dr Leigh’s full speech here.  

How does double giving translate to increasing impact?  

The Hon Kristina Keneally, now CEO, Sydney Children’s Hospitals Foundation raised the very critical point that we need to be focussing not just on doubling giving, but how that increases impact, not only by double, but by potentially much higher multiples.  

It was also refreshing and encouraging to hear Ms Kenneally cite the Fundraising Institute Australia (FIA) and its Code of Professional Conduct and Ethics, known as the FIA Code, and acknowledging that professional fundraisers who have the skills, track record, experience and who operate by this Code, are scarce. A call to action for those working in Fundraising to ensure they are operating according to the Code and enabling philanthropists easier access to giving to those organisations delivering real and measurable outcomes.   

Is 250+ submissions to the Productivity Commission really enough, considering the number of Australian charities?  

The Productivity Commission has commenced the inquiry to develop a policy agenda to double giving. The draft report is due end November and two of the Commissioners on the Inquiry into Philanthropy, Dr Alex Robson and Krystian Seibert reported on the progress to date.   

Their summary: 

  • The draft report will be published by end November this year. 
  • The report investigates barriers to philanthropic giving and the opportunities to overcome them.  
  • There has been a lot of community consultation, which has brought many stories of evidence of impact to the fore. An important reminder for organisations to ensure that outcomes are being captured in a meaningful and qualitative way and are backed by the data.  
  • All Productivity Commission research, submissions and reports are fully transparent, and can be found on the website.  
  • Further submissions will be called after the release of the draft report. We encourage your charity, either solo or as part of a collective of like organisations with whom you collaborate, to have a voice and complete a submission!   
  • The final report will create the scope for the Government to develop a ‘double giving’ package of reforms for the May 2024 Budget.   

Just one of the recommendations to government to make giving easier through Superannuation. Read the full report here. 

Don’t just make living in disadvantages easier, stop it! 

An extremely exciting initiative in action is “The Investment Dialogue for Australia’s Children – a new model for government and philanthropy working together to drive change”.  We heard from The Hon Amanda Rishworth MP, Minister for Social Services and Matthew Cox, Executive Director, The Bryan Foundation

Some highlights of the Investment Dialogue included:  

  • There is currently a lack of accountability back to community from government and acknowledgement that both government and philanthropy need to listen to communities, their problems, their ideas and evidence of what is working and share data back with these communities, so they have base line data to measure their outcomes against.  
  • Trusting in solutions developed by communities 
  • Collaboration is essential!! A good one for us to all remember and can’t be repeated enough, in our opinion.  
  • Where there are shared goals, partnerships should be explored.  
  • Inter-generational change to disadvantage is going to take time – at least a generation. It needs to be well thought out, collaborative, and a long-term investment.   
  • Where we have stronger people, we have stronger places / communities.  

Bernadette Black AM, Social Economic Ambassador, Social Economic Empowerment Department (SEED) and Founding Director, Brave Foundation and Danielle Wood, current CEO, Grattan Institute but moving onto to Chair the Productivity Commission, talked about the importance of evidence and advocacy to address the problems, change government policy, and change the country, for the better.   

The partnership with government is critical for policy change.  There are countless great examples by the Grattan Institute of Partnership with Government critical for policy changes! And both government and philanthropy need to adopt “pay what it takes” to ensure that the right infrastructure is available for place-based solutions to be given the time to take effect.  

In November 2022, Philanthropy Australian engaged Redbridge research firm to understand Australian’s response and thoughts on the double giving agenda. The summary of findings can be found here.  

Celebrating and sharing successes  

There was a lot of discussion also around not just making giving easier, but celebrating and publicising it, to encourage others to give. Philanthropy Australia introduced the initiation of a National Giving campaign. A fantastic idea that will hopefully see more consultation across Australia with other funders, community foundations and peak bodies including the Fundraising Institute Australia, to ensure cohesiveness and collaboration in the messaging and implementation.   

Philanthropy Australia also released, at the Philanthropy meets Parliament Summit, Inspiring stories of giving: volume 1, the first of a series of publications about the positive impact of Australian philanthropy. The hope is to inspire giving through storytelling.  

Philanthropy meets parliament: This is just the beginning 

We encourage you to review the Productivity Commission Draft report when released end November. This is your chance to provide feedback and have your say in how reform and collaboration can double giving, and in turn, have a greater effect on increasing impact for the communities that you exist to serve.   

Read Philanthropy Australia’s full Philanthropy Meets Parliament Summit wrap here.