Connected Giving | October 2019 edition

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

Learning, professional development and capacity building

With the recent launch of the World Giving Index declaring Australia as one of the most generous nations in the world, this edition of Connected Giving seeks to focus on a different approach to philanthropy than the traditional method of supporting direct service delivery. Increasingly, funders are understanding the critical need to support the organisational capacity of not-for-profit organisations and their employees.

We’re proud to launch our three-year Learning for Impact report highlighting the great outcomes of partners who leveraged professional development of their staff to achieve their broader organisational goals. One of the organisations we worked with, Include a Charity, was supported to observe bequest best practice in the UK and share their findings with Australian colleagues. In this edition of Connected Giving, we also share the insights of lawyers who have embraced philanthropic advice to their clients and provide insights on the value it creates.

At AET, we‘re also committed to building the capacity and learnings of the philanthropic sector. We achieve this through Giving Connect, a service that seeks to support philanthropists establish a giving strategy, and identify and evaluate not-for-profit partners.

For more information on our approach to supporting philanthropists, please contact us.

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

Learning for Impact

AET have released their Learning for Impact report, profiling their partners, learning programs, and projects to understand the conditions that support successful outcomes. Four years ago, AET began approaching grantmaking differently, directing funds for non-profits towards staff learning and development. There were three key questions about organisational health and success at the heart of the Learning for Impact program, showing that organisational readiness, flexibility, and willingness to discuss delivery risks are crucial to achieving greater impacts through staff development and learning. On the funding side of things, AET found that it was also important to tailor grants to an organisation’s need and allow for a dynamic response to what was being learned. Read the full article (6 mins). 

Three reasons why investing in staff training will supercharge your organisation's impact

A study by Western Australia’s Centre for Social Impact shows that workforce development really works for the Australian non-profit sector. This report makes it clear that training should be seen as an essential way to fulfil an organisation’s core purpose, rather than just an overhead. Not only does training benefit staff confidence and knowledge, organisations that have formal staff development programs in place consistently outperform those that don’t. Read the full article (6 mins). 

The price of real change

We all share the goal of having a strong, healthy, and resilient non-profit sector that can effectively meet the needs of our communities. This goal means that funders must take a flexible approach to supporting organisations. Research shows that current grantmaking approaches underfund the true cost of projects. Funding ideally should support non-profits to cover overheads, with a flexible agreement that allows organisations to adapt to emergent, real-world challenges. Space should be made for candid conversations about finance; culture, processes and learning must be recognised as important for success; and aiming for progress, rather than perfection should be a priority. Read the full article (8 mins). 

Non-profit capacity building: A multiple-capitals approach

For many non-profits, capacity building is viewed as an activity undertaken during times of stress. However this framing can be limiting. Social transformation does not rest on a single heroic leader or organisation, it entails a broad coalition of networks and people. Organisational effectiveness must build capacity to build capital. Capital as defined as an enduring asset that can produce more assets, does include building organisational capacity. Staff knowledge, relationships & reputation are necessary to value creation and organisational success. Read the full article (10 mins). 

Five elements for success in capacity building

A study of the Meyer Foundation grants found that investments in capacity produced positive, long-term financial results for grantees, regardless of the type of capacity-building grants provided. There isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution to capacity building, but there are commonalities in successful approaches. They include committing for the long term, co-creating solutions with stakeholders, strengthening the ecosystem, supporting technical and adaptive capacities, grounding capacity building in equity, and building strong foundations in partnerships. Read the full article (10 mins). 

Professional development: Why non-profit organisations must invest in their staff

When the Ontario Non-profit Network looked at professional development, they found that investments in training in the sector are modest at best. This limits the capacity to develop the learning capabilities required for longevity and growth. Since the bulk of expenses in the nonprofit sector is staff, professional development in the nonprofit sector is a vital tool for strengthening organisational effectiveness in the face of continuous change. A systems-thinking approach that “a rising tide lifts all boats” is useful for analysing the importance of capacity building; as individuals are educated and strengthened as non-profit employees, the organisation, and the sector too will develop. Read the full article (7 mins). 

Solicitors 'rarely ask about charitable bequests', costing charities billions

A UK study indicated that solicitors are making a difference by asking about philanthropic gifts in wills. The number of charitable gifts rose from 4.9 percent to 10.8 percent. Charities could stand to receive at least a billion dollars more each year if lawyers ask clients if they would like to include a charitable gift in their will. Australian lawyers in estates and wills are being encouraged to broach the subject with clients after a survey by Include a Charity showed that the majority of Australians thought it was okay to ask the question. Read the full article (5 mins). 

'Extraordinarily high': Two postcodes stand out for charitable giving

Australia has been named one of the world’s most generous nations in the World Giving Index, released by the UK-based Charities Aid Foundation. Australia’s strongest point was its share of financial donors. Over the decade, 68 percent of Australians reported making a donation to a charity or non-profit organisation. However, the Australian Centre for Philanthropy and Non-Profit Studies shows that while many Australians are giving, the amount of income we are giving away is quite low. As a result, the charity and non-profit sector relies on the ultra-rich, with vast amounts of donations coming from just two suburbs in Australia, in both neighbourhoods the average tax-deductible gift was 120 times the national average. Read the full article (9 mins). 

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