Grant strategies to build nonprofit capacity

NancyVic Author: Nancy Vaughan

A Play List for the Philanthropy Australia Conference 2018

I was fortunate to be an attendee at the 2018 Philanthropy Australia conference held earlier this month. Keynote speakers, panel discussions and break-out sessions all provided rich and diverse content. Across the presentations, were threaded a set of strong and consistent messages that are applicable to both grant-seekers and grant-makers.  

I have enlisted the assistance of the best synthesisers ever 'To Cut a Long Story Short' (courtesy of Spandau Ballet) and capture these sparkling threads in an '80s Play List.... so throw on a puffy shirt, get your big hair happening and warm up those air-synthesiser moves!

Planet Earth - Duran Duran

Larry Kramer, President of the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, pulled us up to the space-shuttle view of philanthropy by declaring there are two over-arching priorities for philanthropy at the global scale: The decline of liberal democracy and climate change.

Everybody Wants to Rule the World - Tears for Fears

Maybe some of us do ... but conference presenters reminded us that we're all here for the same reason: to make the world a better place. Neither grant-maker nor grant-seeker is more important than the other. We must get past 'silo' thinking and get on with finding the people and organisations that are passionate about our mission and share our objectives and find a way to work together.

Together in Electric Dreams - The Human League

I went and saw Human League at the Palais in St Kilda in '83 but that's a story for another blog. We need to get much better at working together. Actually, it was the Hon Jeff Kennet AC who said something akin to this at the conference. He didn't mention the electric dreams part but you get the gist. Many presenters emphasised we need to work together to truly maximise impact and make the best use of the somewhat limited resources out there.

  • Respect, consult and involve your beneficiaries and the communities you work with in the work you do.
  • Work cooperatively and effectively with individuals and departments within your organisation.
  • Grant-seekers and grant-makers need to work more closely together - instead of treating each other as either ATMs or contractors.
  • Work with other organisations in your sector and region to harness real power and deliver maximum impact.

Blue Monday - New Order

A new order is in play. Presenters at the conference consistently declared how vital it is to collect and share information about the outcomes and impacts of both funded programs as well as funder's grant-making programs. What difference did your project or program make?  What difference are you making as a funder?  Are you achieving your objectives and delivering on your promises?  If you don't have a rock-solid monitoring and evaluation framework in place and if you aren't measuring your outcomes then you need to start. Now.

Video Killed the Radio Star - Buggles

Don't become a dinosaur (or a radio star). In a world of lightning-fast global 'news' delivery, pre-pubescent social media-influencers, and an increasingly cynical and cranky public, it is more important than ever to ensure the work of your organisation is transparent and that it is demonstrably aligned with your mission and objectives. Steve Spurr, CEO of Edelman Australia, reported that only 49% of people (down from 58% in 2017) surveyed in the '2018 Edelman Trust Barometer' stated they trust NGOs. Yikes! 



And for your musical pleasure.....YouTube links to the above Play List

To Cut a Long Story Short - Spandau Ballet: 

Planet Earth - Duran Duran

Everybody Wants to Rule the World - Tears for Fears

Together in Electric Dreams - The Human League  

Blue Monday - New Order

Video Killed the Radio Star - Buggles



Author: Nancy Vaughan


At the Philanthropy Australia National Conference this week! A few quick updates from the field....

Day 1

Lary Kramer, President of the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, urging Australian philanthropists to increase funding for operational support for grantees, and not just project funding. Kramer also declared there are two global-scale priorities that Philanthropy must focus on. 1. The decline of liberal democracy and 2. Climate Change.

Larry Kramer


 The Hon. Jeffrey Kennett AC says there needs to be more advocacy on the benefits of philanthropy to encourage others to give. For all that we're doing - we've got ot be able to do it a bit better and do it collaboratively!


John Bush of Paul Ramsay Foundation reiterated today how crucial it is for him to know what impact their funded programs are having and the importance of evaluation....incidentally, caught up on our Evaluation blog posts yet?

John Bush 


Day 2


What an epic day! Standing room only in many sessions!

Fred Blackwell, CEO of the San Francisco Foundation was talking grant-making strategy with an emphasis on increasing grant values, increasing grant periods, and increasing grants for operating costs for their grant-seekers! Blackwell said that his organisation started funding operational cost because it enabled the organisations doing good work in their community to keep doing this and provide flexibility to those organisations to use the funds for program delivery as well as the overheads.He said "Effective collaboration requires investment from funders. Great collaboration involves doing a lot of things that are not sexy. But we must invest in it. We call this investing in the backbone of the organisation." He was full of wise words, "Better to make new mistakes than remake old mistakes."

Fred Blackwell

Allan English of the English Family Foundation asked: Where are the conferences that bring together philanthropy and the organisations implementing the funded programs? There needs to be much more interaction at the sector level between these two. 


Audette Excel AO, shared her concerns about social impact investment becoming a brand and the risk of 'impact washing'. She said that Philanthropy in Australia needs to get its act together and start funding operating and administration costs, and provide longer term funding.


Este Darin-Cooper, Dr Andrew Lu OAM and Jon Myer shared thier stories of being 'next-gen' philanthropists, in the Next Generation Philanthropy: Beyond the Stereotypes breakout session. Dr Lu remarked: "We're all interested in outcomes."

 Alistair Ferguson of the Maranguka Justice Reinvestment Hub with Teya Dusseldorp spoke about how the project has affected the Bourke community. "This is so much more than a project or proof of a concept to us. This is a survival strategy." What a powerful presentation!