The democratisation of philanthropy, changing expectations and relationships between grant makers and grant recipients and the rise of collective giving, social enterprise and impact investing have all left their mark on contemporary giving.

The challenges and opportunities facing philanthropy in 2017 are many.

For Catherine Brown, CEO of Lord Mayor’s Charitable Foundation in Melbourne, the biggest challenge is staying relevant in fast changing times.

“This has several elements,” she explains.

“Being aware of the impact of climate change and technological change across all our work. Understanding how we can make the most difference to ensure a just transition to a low carbon economy through applying a climate lens and supporting people on low incomes in the transition. Making sure that we fund programs that will be relevant in ten years’ time – for example, understanding where the future jobs for young people and older women and men will be. Raising awareness of the importance of sustainable food systems and food security.”

Growing giving is a key concern for community foundations in Australia and across the world. Maree Sidey, CEO of Australian Communities Foundation, says overcoming outdated perceptions about what it means to be a philanthropist is critical to nurturing a greater culture of giving and achieving positive social change.

“I think we need to remind ourselves regularly that philanthropy is not the exclusive domain of the rich and well connected,” Maree says. “If we approach it from that angle we will never achieve true social change or improve outcomes for the majority.

“To make a difference as a sector, to be taken seriously as thought leaders and change makers, we need to engage as many Australians as possible in the power and pleasure of giving.  Giving individually, giving as families, giving as workplaces, friends, clubs, schools, communities, towns because in the end, giving is simply an expression of thinking beyond yourself and imagining what life might be like for others.”

Seri Renkin, CEO at ten20 foundation, says the greatest challenge facing philanthropy in Australia in 2017 is “finding the courage to create a strong community with shared accountability for critical social, economic, environmental and cultural issues.”

Renkin urges funders to seek greater engagement with the communities they profess to serve, calling for “courage to change the way we work to include diverse players and partners (including those too often excluded from decision-making); courage to take risks, to push boundaries and support innovative new ideas.”


Keeping pace with changing times

More than ever before, the philanthropic sector is a broad and constantly evolving space. Styles of funding can range from purely emotional to highly objective, and across many different areas of need and enrichment. Quite often this vast landscape can be overwhelming, especially for new comers.

Catherine Brown, Seri Renkin and Maree Sidey are just three leaders in philanthropy who’ll be sharing their insights and experience at the Generosity Forum on March 29 in Melbourne.

No matter where you sit on the funding spectrum, the Generosity Forum is an opportunity to explore and share stories of best practice and impact.

The one-day event is a friendly and relaxed place to learn, network and ponder the challenges and opportunities facing your own practice of philanthropy.

Whether you’re a donor, funder, advisor, social entrepreneur, impact investor, administrator of a trust/foundation, nonprofit/charity executive, or connected to philanthropy in some other way, the forum will help you understand how the giving landscape is shifting and the implications.

Here’s a snippet of the sessions on offer:

  • What it means to be a leader in philanthropy
  • Social enterprise from both sides of the fence
  • Impact investing: The good, the bad and the ugly
  • The advisor/client relationship
  • Philanthropy case studies and giving journeys.

See the full line up for the 2017 Generosity Forum or read about last year’s Forum.

Register here. Be quick – Early bird registration closes 16 February!