Jill Reichstein

A highlight was September’s Day 2 of Philanthropy meets Parliament, with terrific contributions from Daniel Lee of the Levi Strauss Foundation, Tom Snow of the Marriage Equality campaign, and Mark Yattica Paulson, recently of the Recognise campaign, in particular.

The focus was on advocacy and its capacity to generate social change – these speakers galvanised the room on the day and the messages continue to resonate across the sector. Advocacy is now at the centre of mainstream philanthropic activity in Australia – and that’s great news.

A second highlight was the way philanthropy got behind the marriage equality campaign with some serious resourcing and advocacy, contributing to a terrific outcome.

A lowlight was the continuing attack on charities, and by implication, philanthropy (because what we do is to support charity and charitable purposes, including social change).

It’s great that the government will maintain the current DGR requirements of environmental charities. The downside is the detail in the foreign donations package that is likely to constrain the voice of charities across the board.

And there is clearly an urgent need to bring the new ACNC regulator up to speed about the purpose and potential of charities in the 21st century and the role of philanthropy in facilitating social change.

A profound disappointment was the government’s abrupt dismissal of key (but not all) elements of the Uluru Statement from the Heart about future Indigenous-non-Indigenous relations.

And the Kafkaesque situation of asylum-seekers and refugees in offshore detention – along with the visa, employment and integration hoops facing people seeking asylum and refuge onshore – continues to be inhumane and contrary to country’s best values.

From a Reichstein perspective, working closely with the Sydney Peace Foundation to enable #BlackLivesMatter founders and organisers to exchange ideas and experiences with Indigenous activists was very important and will influence our grantmaking into the future.

Growing economic, social and cultural divides in Australia call for informed, nuanced and bold responses from philanthropy. There’s a great opportunity to harness the talents of people and communities locked out of economic opportunity and to tackle systemic racism and discrimination.

The role that philanthropy can play in promoting a low carbon future both through investing in renewable energy and in assisting the transition from fossil fuels will be crucial. We have a limited window to successfully make the change. Let’s do it!

2018 will be a testing year as ‘the market’ of philanthropy and charity comes under the microscope. The sector will be called to examine its values and purposes in ways and with an intensity that we haven’t experienced previously.

The issues that funders seek to address are bigger and more complex than can be resolved acting alone.

To have impact at scale, the sector needs to partner, network, exchange and build resources at a rate and level that it has not been used to. For our part, Reichstein will invest even further in collaboration and partnerships in the coming year

Jill Reichstein is Chair of the Reichstein Foundation and the Australian Environmental Grantmakers Network (AEGN).

Related

The Environment Under Pressure

The activist: Jill Reichstein

Three Years to Save the World