Impact Fund's big ambitions

Posted on 09 Jan 2020

By Matthew Schulz, journalist, Our Community


The Australian Communities Foundation has directed its Impact Fund carefully in 2019, with a clearly articulated mission to tackle four areas of need, and the aim of making "a more culturally, environmentally, and socially just Australia".

It's the third year the Foundation has taken this approach, and a growing list of changemakers has benefited from its significant support.

The Impact Fund's strategy this year was to pledge $35,000 for each of the four areas, then tap into its network of supporters to raise the remaining $115,000 of its total $150,000 "ask". It launched its campaigns in late October and has already achieved its financial goals.

The fund's initial pledges were backed by 58 separate co-funders.

This year's themes were:

Tackling Inequality, with the Foundation supporting ACOSS's "Raise the Rate" campaign.

Strengthening Democracy, with the fund being used to back the documentary Democracy for Sale, a co-production involving the Shark Island Institute, Jungle Entertainment and War on Waste's Craig Reucassel.

Supporting Indigenous Communities, through a campaign by the Indigenous Law Centre of the University of NSW to continue the progress the Uluru Statement from the Heart through the "Uluru Dialogues".

Safeguarding the Environment by protecting Australian species against extinction, throught backing of the Invasive Species Council's model for federal reform.

In a slickly produced and fast-paced live pitching event at Melbourne's Wheeler's Centre, foundation supporters were invited to pledge to support these major campaigns, with representatives from each beneficiary giving compelling reasons to support their cause.

Audience members - including influential philanthropists and members of the foundation fund's wider community- quizzed the campaigners about their tactics and ambitions before deciding whether to give them their backing.

Two smaller "agile/seed grants" worth $50,000 also vied for the attention of supporters. Again, the foundation provided a $10,000 pledge to kickstart the co-funding and sought support for the rest. One was earmarked to support the Next Economy's National Energy Justice Coalition, while the other backed the alliance running the "Hands Off Our Charities" campaign.

Australian Communities Foundation CEO Maree Sidey said in a forward to the prospectus issued before the event that the six "bold" projects aimed to tackle "some of our country's most pressing issues head on".

"Each of these projects has enormous potential to generate lasting impact and tip the scales towards social, cultural and environmental justice."

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