When Foundation SA launched a year ago, no one could’ve predicted how warmly it would be embraced by the wider South Australian community.
One of the earliest challenges was helping people understand the benefits of structuring charitable donations using the community foundation model which offers all the joy of giving minus the administrative headaches.
“Our donors could immediately see the benefits of structuring their donations through Foundation SA,” explains Philanthropy & Engagement Manager Sophie Doyle.
“The efficiency created by outsourcing the admin and reporting and the ability to have their money ethically invested for long-term growth without them having to worry about engaging an investment manager were the key benefits. Also having all their giving centralised in a securely accessible online portal makes life much easier at tax time when you’re trying to find your donation receipts.”
In the space of just 12 months, Foundation SA has exceeded all expectations, and is home to 18 sub-funds with a corpus exceeding $1 million and growing.
“We set ourselves three priorities for our first 12 months for Foundation SA,” Sophie says. “They were to grow our corpus, consult with community to develop our strategy, and distribute funds through a grant round – and this is exactly what we’ve done.”
The backgrounds and philanthropic priorities of the families, individuals, giving circles and businesses that have joined the Foundation SA giving community vary, but they are united by a common goal, to “achieve long-term impact on the causes they are passionate about.”
“We have individuals who’ve set up Gumnut Accounts which help them get started with just $2,000; we have families set up a sub-fund to help engage their children in their giving; we have generous people wanting to establish a legacy through a bequest in their Will; and we also have businesses that have established corporate funds to increase staff engagement through workplace giving,” Sophie says.
The issue areas Foundation SA fund holders have chosen to support span arts and culture, empowering women, education, Indigenous youth, animal welfare, food insecurity, neonatal health, international aid, housing and more.
All giving is personal and the motivations for getting started are equally as diverse, Sophie explains.
“One of my favourite memories from the last year was receiving a call from a donor who’d read about Foundation SA in The Advertiser but was halfway through the paperwork to establish a private foundation for his business,” she says.
“After asking a few questions he said, ‘We’d like to sign up!’ and within a week we had their sub-fund set up and they now donate a percentage of turnover into it each month and it has grown to over $50,000.
“We’ve also had the pleasure of working with a lovely elderly couple in their 80s, who have no children and would like to support animal welfare in their Will by leaving part of their estate which includes an incredible antiques collection, to Foundation SA.
“This incredible generosity is something we should all be proud of as community members.”
It’s the ease of getting started and the flexibility to tailor giving solutions to individual needs that is such a critical part of Foundation SA’s success, says Stacey Thomas, CEO of The Wyatt Trust which provided critical backing in the Foundation’s earliest days as well as ongoing support.
“We have been thrilled to see how many South Australians have jumped on board with Foundation SA in its first year,” Stacey says.
“Foundation SA is developing our own community, one of generous South Australians who are coming together with a shared purpose of helping a cause close to their hearts.
“We have been so delighted to see the way the community has embraced this model of giving. Whether it has been the collective giving of individuals to enable an art or literary award, or the passion of a family to support First Nations Peoples and women into further education, the people behind the funds are fierce in their determination to make a difference within the community.”
Keeping it local
Providing support from, and for, local SA communities is the guiding principle upon which Foundation SA has been built. The last two years in particular, Sophie says, have brought the need for local support into sharp focus.
“We have a population of 1.7 million people in SA, and because of our size, we are connected and know how to work together to get things done,” she says. “Our communities have really come together to support each other.
“The projects we saw in our recent Neighborhood Grants round demonstrated that with applications covering social connection groups and empowerment programs for women escaping family violence, engagement programs for at risk youth in Elizabeth, household energy saving education in community housing and a choir for women in the Western suburbs.
“As a community foundation we can raise the profile of small community organisations doing important local work and our donors are learning about these grassroots groups they might not have encountered before.
“We are introducing and connecting people to create long-term relationships where support flows not just through dollars, but in other meaningful ways such as volunteering time, business connections and pro-bono work.”
Setting new goals to grow giving
In the year ahead, along with the granting of its giving community, Foundation SA will distribute up to $135,000 in matched funding through the Matching program with the SA Department of Human Services.
“This is a fantastic opportunity for our sub-fund holders who can apply to have a donation to their fund matched by the DHS,” Sophie explains.
“I’d like to see our donor community and our corpus double in the next year which, based on the enthusiasm we’ve seen from South Australians over the past 12 months, seems very achievable.”
Learn more about community philanthropy in South Australia:
South Australia is home to five community foundations, including Foundation SA. To learn more about SA’s four regional community foundations visit:
Eyre Peninsula Community Foundation
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