The Australian Sports Foundation has established a new charitable trust in a bid to secure an additional $30 million in gifts from ancillary funds to grassroots sports clubs and organisations by 2022.
Because the ASF has deductible gift recipient (DGR) status, donations made to grassroots sporting organisations through the foundation can be claimed as a tax deduction, where they wouldn’t be otherwise.
This has allowed the foundation to secure almost $150 million in funding for sports organisations over the past four years.
ASF CEO Patrick Walker says his organisation’s main role is to raise philanthropic money for sport.
“Sport is not, in and of itself, a charitable purpose. Normally, sporting clubs and organisations can’t register as a deductible gift recipient (DGR) and provide a tax deduction for donations,” Walker says.
“We were given the power to receive tax deductible donations on behalf of sporting bodies as a type-one DGR. Since that time, we’ve been raising philanthropic funds from private individuals and businesses that want to raise funds for sport in this country.”
New charitable trust
To further boost donations to grassroots sports, the foundation recently set up a charitable trust that allows sports organisations to access philanthropic funds for projects and programs that have a broader social benefit.
“Since we were formed in the 1980s, there’s been the rise of ancillary funds, and because of the way many of them were set up and structured, no-one really thought about how sport would fit in,” Walker says.
“Many [ancillary funds] (although not all) are structured to distribute money that is donated to them by their founders to organisations and causes that have DGR type-one status, which we have, and are charitable, which the Australian Sports Foundation is not.
“So this whole swathe of philanthropic giving effectively excluded sport, which I believe was an unintended quirk. And it was because we were formed in the 1980s, before ancillary funds existed and no-one really thought about it.”
The ASF anticipates the trust will help it to raise an additional $25 to $30 million a year for charitable projects by 2022, with this figure growing to over $50 million per year within 10 years.
“It still doesn’t make sport, in and of itself, charitable. But there is widespread recognition that sport can have many important charitable and social outcomes, including improving physical and mental health, allowing migrants to integrate into their new country, helping Indigenous kids improve educational participation,” Walker says.
“The charitable fund allows sporting organisations to access funding from ancillary funds where there is a clear charitable or social purpose. That doesn’t include putting up new goal posts on the footy field, but helping low income families to participate in sport to improve their physical and mental health would be classed as charitable.
“This enables community and grassroots sports to compete with other charitable causes.
“The fund allows us to commence relationships with ancillary funds in areas where sport has been demonstrably shown to be powerful and effective, in areas such as combating obesity, improved mental health, or improving educational outcomes.”
A funding conduit and a grantmaker
Despite it being established in 1986 alongside Australian Sports Commission, following a major Hawke government review into sport, the ASF itself receives no direct government funding.
Instead, roughly a quarter of donations made through the foundation come from business, with the remaining 75% from private philanthropy.
According to Walker, there are two funding ‘modes’ the organisation uses. Firstly, it acts as ‘conduit’ that allows grassroots sporting organisations to gain tax deductible status for funds they raise.
“A large part of the funds we raise is effectively raised by sporting organisations themselves, through their communities, supporters and networks, and it is donated through us to ensure tax deductibility, and then it is granted out through us to the preferred beneficiary,” Walker says.
“We basically advise and educate the sporting community about how to engage with their community, stakeholders and networks, including how to engage with donors to show the need, cause and impact.
“We have an online fundraising platform that allows donors to give in support of their chosen organisation and we also provide resources, advice and support from our team.”
In addition, the foundation acts as a traditional grantmaking organisation by raising its own pool of funds to target particular cause areas.
“We might run a grant program aimed at sporting organisations that aim to keep 16-to-19-year-olds engaged in sport, because when kids finish school is a big drop-off point for organised sport, and then they’re gone for life.
“What we do then is, like any other grantmaker, we will have an application period, we will specify criteria, we will invite organisations to apply for funding, and we’ll assess that application based on social need, number of people impacted and other factors. We’ll then award grants to the most deserving applicants.
“Raising funds ourselves as a grantmaker has tended to come from a few high-net-worth relationships with a known philanthropic interest and passion for sport, as well as from businesses with a philanthropic culture.”
Walker adds that measuring and monitoring impact is vitally important across both funding modes.
“In terms of monitoring impact, for all grants we raise whether we’re acting as a conduit or through our own grant programs, all recipients are required to fill out a grant report to show us they have used the money for its designated purpose, measure key outcomes and provide feedback,” he says.
Having supported grassroots sporting organisations across Australia, Walker’s advice to fundraisers is to engage, inspire and make it easy for your donors.
“If you’re fundraising, you need to emotionally engage on your donor community, they need to care enough to give and support your organisation, you need to focus on the impact on what this generous contribution will achieve, and you need to make the act of giving easy,” he says.
“Also, your whole organisation needs to be aligned and engaged around the fundraising program from the board right down to the tea servers, if you have such a person in your organisation. Everyone needs to be engaged, know why your fundraising exists, and what you’re trying to achieve.”