Newsletter – Issue 1 – April 2012

Welcome from the CEO, Rachael McLennan
What a privilege I have to be leading the team at Australian Philanthropic Services. It was only 2 years ago that we were researching the market and developing a business plan for a Private Ancillary Fund Service at Social Ventures Australia.  Now, we are launching a separate brand and have a group of passionate foundation clients, who are committed to improving the communities around them.

In addition we continue to engage and support advisers by providing them with an understanding of the philanthropic landscape in Australia. Working with them to deliver philanthropic solutions to their clients has delivered many unexpected rewards.

I would like to thank and acknowledge our Chairman, Chris Cuffe, and Board members David Ward, Fiona Higgins, Jan Swinhoe, Belinda Hutchinson and Tim Fairfax. Their commitment and support will undoubtedly ensure we deliver on our mission to inspire and support philanthropy.

And finally, I would like to thank and acknowledge our funders, who strongly believe in helping Australia develop its own unique philanthropic personality, and in turn, make some significant changes to many areas of the community and to many people’s lives.

Book Review
Creating Change through Family Philanthropy
Alison Goldberg & Karen Pittelman

Many people we talk to are interested in discussing ways to engage the next generation in philanthropy, which can lead to a series of challenging questions often referred to as a can of worms! On the surface, philanthropy seems like an excellent opportunity to come together as a family to talk about the things that really matter with a view to making an impact. At Australian Philanthropic Services, we know that the next generation (and generations) have valid ideas to give and opinions to share. Founders are often surprised at the level of understanding their children and grandchildren have of the not-for-profit sector. Given the era of social media in which we live, and our level of exposure to global events and issues, it’s hardly surprising.

But how do families engage the next generation most effectively?

Creating Change through Family Philanthropy has been described as ‘an elegant blend of testimonials and toolkit’, and while it is American and does at times have a different perspective, this book does offer some useful advice and practical suggestions.  It is based on interviews with over 40 families, and discusses issues that include dealing with conflict, sharing philanthropic power, and opening up the decision making process.

Ethical dilemmas make for compelling reading: a Rockefeller family member battles to reconcile his pride in his family’s environmental funding with its investments in an oil company which funds research disputing global warming. Another philanthropist who inherited his fortune after his father died in a plane crash struggles with his desire to unite his disparate family around giving, with his fear of falling out over politics. One new generation philanthropist comments ‘An inner struggle that I’ve had my whole life is coming to terms with the world that I live in and the reality that the other 99 per cent of the world doesn’t have the same wealth.’

The book also highlights an issue important to us at Australian Philanthropic Services: family foundations can be the perfect vehicles for social change. Less bureaucracy than government funding, and often more passion and commitment than corporate funding, family foundations have a unique freedom to take risks and push boundaries.

Let Louise know if you’d like to borrow a copy.

Update on The Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission

You may be aware that in the 2011-12 Budget, the Australian Government announced that it would establish the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission (ACNC) and that Treasury would undertake a review into the governance obligations appropriate for registered not-for-profits (NFPs) (including private ancillary funds), taking account of the findings of the Final Report of the Scoping Study for a National Not-for-profit Regulator. On behalf of our clients, we submitted the following letter of recommendation (click here?)

On 5th March, the Government announced it will extend the start date of the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission to 1 October 2012.

Since 1995 a series of inquiries have been conducted into the activities, regulation and governance of the not-for-profit sector. A consistent recommendation emerging from these inquiries was the establishment of an independent national regulator to

  • determine and regulate charities; and
  • administer the statutory definition of charity.

The common themes arising from these inquiries outlined that a regulator should:

  • promote good governance;
  • ensure compliance with charitable laws; and
  • provide a public information portal through which charities would be required to make certain financial and activity related reports.

The Government has acted on the recommendations in these inquiries and is implementing a comprehensive reform agenda for the NFP sector, including the introduction of the Commission.

Friendly reminders
Remember that 5% of your foundations net asset value from last year needs to be distributed as a grant (or several grants) before 30 June 2012. Also, is your Investment Strategy current? Are your foundations assets being invested in accordance with this strategy? We will be in touch with you shortly to discuss these issues.