More than 200 delegates from philanthropy and the nonprofit sector were treated to a day of personal stories, valuable lessons learned and diverse experiences of giving at the 2017 Generosity Forum.
The day kicked off with a wide-ranging conversation with Craig Connelly (Ian Potter Foundation), Seri Renkin (ten20 Foundation), Geoff Wilson (Future Generation companies) and Sarah Wickham (Good Mob and Equity Trustees) diving into the topic of what it means to be a leader in philanthropy.
Despite the markedly different backgrounds and philanthropic practices of the panellists, they were united by a common wish for leaders in philanthropy to show more daring, as evidenced by their answers to the final question ‘What leadership trait would you like to see more of in Australian philanthropy?’ which were: boldness, innovation, courage and risk-taking.
Hayley Morris (Morris Family Foundation) recounted the ups and downs of her personal giving journey during an honest and moving conversation which touched on the difficulties of navigating changing family relationships, the loss of her mother and the challenges of bringing rigour to the family’s charitable giving.
Farren Williams (Koda Capital), Ben Clark (Australian Executor Trustees) and Catriona Fay (Perpeutal) each lent their personal insights about the evolution of advisor/client relationships with Fay emphasising the importance of values-based advice while Clark noted that introducing clients to the joy of philanthropy was key.
While discussing the importance of staying true to your values during a discussion about innovation in philanthropy with Belinda Morrissey (English Family Foundation), Maree Sidey (Australian Communities Foundation) reminded the audience that “if you lose sight of your community, you stand for nothing.”
The most entertaining session of the day was ‘Impact investing – the good, the bad and the ugly’ deftly moderated by Daniel Madhavan (ex-Impact Investing Australia), during which Paul Steele (donkey wheel) and Sylvia Admans (R E Ross Trust) gave a frank and fearless, no-holds-barred description of their impact investing experiences to date which drew laughter, applause and much appreciation from the audience. Steele captured the spirit of the discussion in the closing minutes when he noted there was a real need “to be able to talk about our failures in detail and learn from each other.”
Lisa Waldron (Westpac Foundation), Sophie Ryan (Sony Foundation) and Sandra Jacobs (Bennelong Foundation) unpacked their respective organisation’s approach to corporate giving in a session facilitated by Julie Reilly (Australian Women Donors Network). Waldron noted that modern corporate leaders need both “social acumen as well as business acumen” and Ryan emphasised that boards are key when finding champions for corporate foundations.
Regina Hill gave a practical and robust explanation of the fundamentals of an effective giving evaluation program while Libby Ward-Christie (Social Traders), Natalie Elliott (William Buckland Foundation & Equity Trustees) and Jeanette Large (Women’s Property Initiatives) provided an enlightening exploration of social enterprise from the perspectives of both the funder and the enterprise. Elliott implored nonprofits that are keen to explore social enterprise opportunities to start by asking the question: “What do you do really well that you can commercialise?”
Philanthropist Kerry Gardner shared many insights from her 25 years of giving during her interview with ABC Radio’s Lindy Burns. Key among them were her joy at no longer being the youngest person in the room nor the only woman when it comes to grant making, her respect for change makers like Nobel Peace Prize winner Muhammad Yunus and her distaste for the word ‘charity’ which, to her mind, smacks of condescension.
The day’s final session saw Peter Wilson (Greenhill), Neil Balnaves AO (Balnaves Foundation) and Catherine Brown (Lord Mayor’s Charitable Foundation) speaking about what they’ve learned about practising philanthropy with Genevieve Timmons (Portland House Foundation).
Catherine Brown urged funders to use all the tools available in the philanthropy toolkit including grants, impact investments, and collaborative partnerships, while Peter Wilson advocated for opt-out workplace giving (as used at Greenhill) and Neil Balnaves urged philanthropists to be proactive and add value to their monetary gift.
Thank you to our sponsors, Equity Trustees, Lord Mayor’s Charitable Foundation and Charidy; our first-rate panellists and presenters; and to every one of our delegates for supporting the Forum and helping us grow the conversation about giving.