Jennifer Duncan opened Foundation SA’s first Gumnut Account to honour her late partner and ‘support the safety and wellbeing of women, children and animals’.
Jennifer’s story highlights the benefits of a Gumnut – enabling you to lay the foundations for giving strategically to the causes and communities you care about, starting with as little as $2,000.
We chat to her about her giving journey.
Why did you choose to set up a Gumnut Account with Foundation SA?
I first looked into the possibility of setting up my own philanthropic trust back in 2015. I’d recently lost my partner and wanted to do something in his memory that would also be a way of giving back in some areas that he’d struggled with at different times of his life. It turned out that setting up my own trust was going to be prohibitively expensive for me (and really complicated!), so I looked at establishing a Gumnut Account through the Australian Communities Foundation (ACF). At the end of the day though, I wanted something that could be auspiced locally – South Australia is my home, it’s the place I’m most passionate about and I really, really believe in local.
I gave up back in 2015 and just continued my personal structured giving program, but when Foundation SA started up I leapt at the chance! In fact, I was super proud when I heard mine was the very first Gumnut Account opened for Foundation SA. I promised to plant a gumnut tree to mark the occasion – I haven’t quite gotten around to that yet but I promise you I will.
How did you land on your chosen cause areas and why are they important to you?
My foundation is about “Supporting the safety and wellbeing of women, children and animals.”
I don’t know if some people might say I’m a bit unconventional? Definitely I’ve always walked to the beat of my own drum and I’m incredibly conscious of the great fortune I had in being born into a family where gender wasn’t seen as a limiting factor, in a country and at a time in history that offers greatest latitude for choice for women than ever before. However, I’m also incredibly conscious that not every girl or woman is as lucky as I’ve been and women are the most disadvantaged in every socio-economic group to which they belong. Changing this really matters to me.
The interests of women and children are obviously closely linked, if only because women tend to be the primary caregivers still. But my interest in children has also come about through my work, which has focussed a lot on the wellbeing and needs of children and young people; I know that if you want to intervene to change a person’s life, you need to do it as early as you can.
A lot of people might not know that the interests and wellbeing of women and animals are also closely linked. This shows up a lot in domestic and family violence, where animals are often abused as a proxy for the women who love them. Plus, I’ve been a vegetarian since I was 16 and really believe in animal rights – if I tread on an ant by accident, you’ll be hearing about it for days!
What’s your experience of Foundation SA been like so far? What are the biggest benefits of being part of a community foundation to your mind?
I’m an eager Beta tester – I’m always putting my hand up to trial things, it gives me permission to unleash my inner pedant knowing that it’s going to be appreciated rather than just annoying! (Laugh.) But even in the Beta phase the process of signing up for my Gumnut Account was incredibly easy, and Sophie was super helpful when I muffed things up. I also muffed up my first donation (rookie errors made on my part) but the team at ACF behind the process was also really helpful – and understanding, which helped make me feel a little bit less silly.
Because I’m still building my account I’m also continuing some structured giving, but I can’t wait for the day that I’m able to run everything through my Gumnut. While I work to make that happen, it’s just a matter of making my annual donation which is a really simple process.
In terms of benefits, Foundation SA offers me the best of both worlds – the opportunity to build a sub-fund that ultimately I can share with my family, and get to make the choices about funds distribution, whilst also being simple and inexpensive so that I’m not spending money on legal or other costs and I’m maximising the funds that can go to the causes I care about.
What advice would you offer to people looking at establishing a Gumnut Account?
It feels like a bit of a no-brainer to me – just get it done! But do take the opportunity to think closely about your areas of focus before you leap in. That’s always a good thing to do – reflect on the things that you care about and why, set your north star and follow it. It’ll tell you a lot about your purpose, not just your giving.
That’s Jennifer’s story, what’s yours?
If you’ve been thinking about how you can make an impact on the world – just get it done – create a Gumnut account today. Click here for more information.