Daniel Lee

“Advocacy is not a minefield of risk, but a garden of opportunity,” Daniel Lee told delegates at the Philanthropy Meets Parliament Summit in September 2017.

1. Make sure you give enough

Billionaire Richard White says “there’s little difference between $10 million, $100 million and $1 billion”. How much do you think is enough for you, and are you giving enough?

2. Remember your core values

Daniel Lee from the Levi Strauss Foundation reminded us that values must “show up at moments of truth”, and in “turbulent times”.

Whether you’re wrapping presents, jumping on a plane or ordering a celebratory feast, consider your own values. Are your core values really showing up in your giving strategy?

3. Leverage your business expertise

Business is partnering with charities in new and exciting ways. Look at John and Myriam Wylie’s Tannara Philanthropic Advisers initiative, which provides board-level advice to improve the strategic and financial positions of charities. Their lens is to examine what competence, rather than capital, they can bring.

What is your business competence? How can charities benefit from it?

4. Measure your impact

Philanthropists are clamouring to measure the impact of their investments. In 2017 the Michael and Susan Dell Foundation released a seminal report: A Philanthropist’s Guide to the Future.

The Dell Social Impact Principles include the insight that “not all data is created equal… always measure, but be smart about what you measure, and how”.

Are you measuring mindfully? It’s something to ponder in your festive downtime.

5. Stand by your principles

In 2017, dialogue around assisted dying has surfaced and is urgent. Andrew Denton is putting himself forward for a cause he is passionate about.

Would you be willing to risk your image, your reputation and your social capital for a cause? For healthy philanthropy, consider this question: What do you stand for?

6. Social enterprises can be the solution

A clear signal that boundaries between business and philanthropy are increasingly porous is the establishment of the (for profit) company 1Scope.

The social enterprise brainchild of millennial entrepreneur Christina Chun and aims to level the playing field for students who don’t start life with advantages.

Chun grew up in the Sydney suburb of Auburn. She wants students from similar SES regions to get the kick start she wished she’d had.

Chun persuaded property developer Jin Ling to provide $1 million in capital and space at the Baranagaroo offices of Aqualand so that 1Scope can create transition paths for students from school to university or TAFE, then work.

She’s enrolling business and community organisations to help make her vision happen – impressive.

7. Co-investment can have a big impact

Arts funders are learning that co-investment with private donors is a key plank in the strategy of the Australia Council for the Arts – a welcome trend. Over $2 million was contributed this way for the 2017 Venice Biennale.

Tracey Moffat

Tracey Moffatt represented Australia at the 2017 Venice Biennale, the first Aboriginal artist to present a solo exhibition at the prestigious event.

This holiday season, give your arts funding the gift of a health check. Could co-investment be your most impactful way to give?

8. Work to a deadline

Poola Foundation’s planned closure in 2017 after distributing $50 million is complete.

Who will take the lessons learnt from funding the (recently folded) Climate Institute for 10 years, as well as the Melbourne beginnings of ICAN (International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons), recently awarded the Nobel Peace Prize?

Poola Foundation makes us reflect whether time-limited philanthropy applies special pressure to your giving – like turning coal into a diamond!

What other funders might step forward with the same intensity of ambition, risk appetite and passion for advocacy? Could your giving plan benefit from the application of pressure?

9. Harness the next generation

Millennials are a “true force for social good that goes beyond the biggest philanthropists in the world because with their actions they can organise, drive awareness and influence behaviour of giving…like never before” [USA 2017 Millennial Impact Report from Achieve, in partnership with the Case Foundation].

As a philanthropist, it’s time to think about how you are engaging and harnessing this next generation’s force – in your foundation, on your board, or in your cause. If not now, when? Or, are you leaving it too late?

10. Embrace unconventional ideas

On the rise in Australia are BCorps – part of a global movement to use business as a force for good. There are over 200 Certified B Corps in Australia with total revenues of $1billion and 5,000 employees.

Over the five years of its operation, one of the founding BCorps, Today (formerly Studio Thick), has donated $500,000 to charity while designing products for good that enhance people and planet.

Today believes that the world needs big, new, unconventional ideas over safe, marginal tweaks to broken systems. There is hope if corporate philanthropy can smash it out of the park like that!

11. Support gender equality

In 2017 the Women’s AFL exploded into our hearts – after a very long gestation period. What a high!

On the low side, our news feeds flow thick with sickening allegations of powerful men abusing their power by abusing women. As philanthropists, can we engineer more highs and less lows for girls and women?

You might go the way of philanthropists Kim Harding and Irene Miller who created the Harding Miller Education Foundation dedicating their funds and expertise to enabling disadvantaged girls to succeed. Currently supporting 183 girls, their goal is 5,000! Join them in the cause. Or Paul Wheelton who joined Women Moving Millions. Or, dip your toe in the water by applying a gender lens to your own giving (the Women Donor’s Network can help). What do you see?

12. Democratise your philanthropy

In 2017, the giving circle came into its own.

It’s the equivalent of big philanthropy for small givers: you give defined contributions and join a collective decision-making process. There are different ways to execute.

Pat Burke and Gillian Hund

Melbourne Women’s Fund founders Gillian Hund and Pat Burke. MWF has granted $300,000 in just three years.

At The Funding Network it’s about the pitch, the adrenalin and the crowd. At the Asian Australian Foundation it’s about a community with purpose.

The leading light is Melbourne Women’s Fund having granted $300,000 in just three years. Its signature is “women for women”, and inspired the launch of the Sydney Women’s Giving Circle. In giving circles, you join to be generous, stay to be together, and grow to become politicised.

That’s the secret sauce of this democratisation of philanthropy. In 2018 –  stand back and hear them roar.

Teresa Zolnierkiewicz and Robyn Charlwood are cofounders of filantropia – rethinking philanthropy Pty Ltd.

filantropia is a philanthropy advisory firm that helps philanthropists succeed and helps companies to meaningfully connect with philanthropists.