RFFF Gracemere SES

Gracemere SES in Queensland received $5,000 from RFFF to fit out a vehicle with a purpose-built storm and rescue tray.

The Foundation for Rural and Regional Renewal has distributed nearly $6.7 million in the 2016/17 financial year through 743 grants to nonprofits across rural, regional and remote Australia, according to its latest annual report.

The figures represent a strong increase over the previous financial year, when the organisation distributed $6.4 million in support of 583 projects.

The FRRR’s corpus grew by 6% to $26.5 million off the back of donations to the foundation increasing to $7.2 million, up from $6.6 million the previous financial year. The number of unique donors grew to 590, with 74 giving more than once.

The foundation strengthened its focus on employment and economic development, which increased to around 10% of its grants, up from 7% the previous financial year. The percentage of grants going to environmental causes grew to 6%, up from 4% last year.

Education remained a key focal area for the organisation, representing 33% of all the funds it distributed, followed by social welfare (25%), culture (15%), health (11%).

The funds were distributed through 24 active giving programs in amounts ranging from $487,500 to $450, with a median of $4,800.

Among the beneficiaries was Moyhu District Preschool in northeastern Victoria, which was able to provide its young students with a $12,300 upgrade to its facilities with the support of a $5,200 grant.

In total, 2,285 the organisation received applications from community groups, meaning the success rate was around 30%, with a total of $16 million requested. Of the unsuccessful requests, around 1,000 would have been eligible for funding with a stronger application proposal.

In line with previous years, Victoria accounted for around 40% of grants awarded, supporting a total of 297 community groups. An additional 171 grants were made to groups in NSW, 103 in Queensland, 58 to SA, 50 to WA, 36 to Tasmania and 21 in the Northern Territory.

In a statement, FRRR chief executive Natalie Egleton said a key focus area was the move to a state-based structure, which has enabled a deeper dialogue with local communities.

“Over the past year, the FRRR team and I have travelled thousands of kilometres to meet with communities, deliver workshops, roundtable events and presentations, and spent more than 410 hours on the phone talking to community leaders,” Egleton said

“We now have a new framework that will underpin FRRR’s grants application, assessment and evaluation going forward. We are very grateful to the Sidney Myer Fund for supporting this work.

“Also, we continued to enhance our donor management systems, and laid the groundwork to move to an online granting system, thanks to the support of the Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development.”

Foundation for Rural and Regional Renewal CEO Natalie Egleton will speak at the 2018 Generosity Forum on Tuesday 27 February.