Membership Services Director
Community Foundations of NZ
7 November 2022
Our management team were privileged to attend the Community Foundations Australia conference in Geelong, Victoria at the end of October. As well as it being surreal to attend an international conference in person, the experience has given pause for some reflection, none more so than the sector collaboration that is going on to double philanthropic giving across Australia by 2030. It’s a bold goal, led by a bold vision, with Philanthropy Australia leading the charge.
CEO Jack Heath’s vision for philanthropy is "big hearted, clear-headed, and joyful", and his leadership has brought the sector together with a new blueprint for growth and a shared strategy. Heath spoke of his own philanthropy, a personal expression of family values (which is something we see a lot in our line of work, and can often be the central driving force behind philanthropic gestures, both big and small).
Our team presented at the conference, including our work in the bequest space and the desire for people to find the right vehicle to express their personal legacy. As not-for-profits, Community Foundations can be an obvious place to settle a meaningful legacy, particularly for those who share a love of place. The opportunities to partner with locals in achieving a shared vision are endless and could be our 'sweet spot' contributing to the wider vision of growing philanthropy across a nation.
What strikes me with our international networks is how similar we are. This was illustrated in the conversations around supporting indigenous people’s aspirations, advancing equity, supporting systems change and mitigations of climate change, and also our challenges on how we go about achieving this. No community is the same and the beauty of a Community Foundation is that it can be nimble in its approach and work with local people supporting their visions, alongside community needs, bringing the two together to create philanthropic alignment. It’s a privileged place to be, and I felt the collective excitement in the room as we considered the opportunities ahead of us.
Tom Molyneux, Manager of Indigenous Inclusion at Deakin University, challenged us all to think deeply about our ancestral mandate. “What had to happen for you to be in this room?” He described our sense of place and that the decisions we make are never about us, that we are the “sum of generations” before and behind us.
“The ancestors have placed you all together, take the nudge they are giving you. What collective might can you muster in this room?” It was a powerful challenge, and to me spoke to the collective action of Community Foundations across the world, purposely growing impactful philanthropy so our communities can thrive.
Reflecting on the conference I am left with Molyneux's final words of, “Generations not yet born being factored into decision making today”. It’s an ancestral mandate that is powerful and bold and speaks directly to our vision and our tūrangawaewae: hei whakakaha, i ngā hāpori o Aotearoa – strengthening the communities of Aotearoa New Zealand, forever. Thank you, Community Foundations Australia, for the shared experience, I've no doubt that our collaboration will amplify our collective impact.
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