Connected Giving | November 2019 edition

Welcome to the November edition of Connected Giving, Australian Executor Trustees monthly update on current trends and news in philanthropy.

Transparency, communities, and partnerships

With the tragic bushfires that have ravaged Australia’s East coast this month, Australians have dug deep to support a range of causes aligned with providing relief. Generosity and our willingness to respond to crises is one of the great traits (and reflections) of supportive community and citizens. However, in an environment where regulators are increasingly scrutinising how charities allocate raised funds, and how philanthropists allocate their donations, it is timely we reflect on transparency, accountability and the need for genuine partnership between the for-profit and not-for-profit sector.

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Jump to any one of the edition’s articles by clicking the links below:

Private philanthropy and public legitimacy

Private foundations need to think carefully and speak publicly about their legitimacy if they are going to withstand public scrutiny and surmount increasingly frequent public critiques. People have been analysing the motives of philanthropists since ‘big’ philanthropy first emerged and gained momentum alongside the sharp rise of societal inequality. In order to not fall into disrepute, it is important for private foundations to think of its legitimacy as both regulatory and normative. Suggestions for this include demonstrating accountability with government regulations and through transparency of goals and strategies. Foundations also need to be willingly open to scrutiny. In this way it is possible to allay the constant and rising suspicions. Read the full article (6 mins).

10 ways philanthropy is housing Australians

Housing affordability in Australia is becoming an increasingly dire problem. After news earlier in the month about Apple Inc. announcing $2.5 billion commitment to address the housing crisis in California, we looked at what philanthropy is doing for the housing situation here in Australia. Sydney and Melbourne now rank 3rd and 4th as the most unaffordable cities in the world. The lack of affordable housing is fuelling homelessness. The philanthropic sector is working hard to address the crisis, focusing on increasing the scale and the support that comes with homeless accommodation, increasing services for domestic violence victims, youth, and the elderly, and to employ underutilised city land and buildings for alternative and safe accommodation. Read the full article (7 mins). 

For international day for the eradication of poverty, banking CEO says financial institutions must partner with NFPs

Despite Australia’s status as a wealthy country, one in six Australian kids are living in poverty. This is happening for several reasons; the vastly unequal distribution of wealth, unemployment patterns and superannuation problems. The effort to eradicate poverty in Australia is a complex public policy challenge. We need a collaborative approach from government, civil society, and the private sector if we are going to make progress. There are some examples of this, however, it is recommended that banks and other financial institutions look at partnering with not-for-profit organisations to provide more comprehensive support to individuals before they slip into poverty. Read the full article (5 mins).

New donor ethics rules: Why policies and procedures alone can’t protect us

Not all donors are equal. Many not-for-profits this year have learnt that accepting on sources of wealth that draw on unsavoury practices harms reputations. This year many organisations reviewed their policies and procedures after widespread criticisms about gift and funding sources, resulting in many major institutions returning or turning down funding from certain sources. Policies around gift acceptance can act as safeguards against future harm, the difficulty with this however is balancing need with values and differing moral standpoints. Read the full article (6 mins). 

10 things progressive funders must learn from conservative ones

Common goals are important to share in the philanthropic world, and methods for achieving them vary greatly. Some goals and attributes we can all agree are worthwhile, exist strongly in the conservative philanthropic sphere. Namely, focusing on the big picture, not micromanaging, providing significant general operating funds, funding for longer terms such as twenty or thirty years, support leaders and movements, engage in policy and politics, and treat grantees as equal partners. While foundation funding is just one element in the fight for social justice, it is critical, and foundations must own the power and responsibility that it entails. Read the full article (9 mins). 

Donald Trump fined $2m for misusing charity for political ends

Donald Trump has been ordered to pay $2m in damages for using funds intended for charity to boost his 2016 presidential election campaign. There was a pattern of illegality involving the Trump foundation, including use of funds for the presidential campaign, controversially paying for a $10,000 self-portrait, and use of funds for sports memorabilia and champagne. The $1.78m in assets held by the Trump foundation, as well as $2m in damages to be paid by Trump will be distributed equally to eight charities: Army Emergency Relief, the Children’s Aid Society, Citymeals-on-Wheels, Give an Hour, Martha’s Table, United Negro College Fund, United Way of National Capital Area, and the US Holocaust Memorial Museum. Read the full article (7 mins). 

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