#NCFF17 – Exploring the Soul of Community Foundations


Jane Jose


In Australia, the community foundation movement is both old and young depending on where you live. Melbourne’s funds have maturity and yet are still reinventing their focus and giving to meet the needs of communities now.

Sydney, Fremantle and Stand Like Stone are young and innovating in their own ways to reach deeply into their diverse communities growing impact through demonstrating the change that can be made by collective giving.

As I sat inspired on day one thinking about the idea that within we are all individual souls finding a place to belong in family, community, work and as Australians.

Photo credit: Australian Community Philanthropy.

The idea that afternoon in Melbourne made me feel very much part of a small community of those who get the power of community foundations and share common values despite our different home bases.

The conference community itself was reflecting the important principle that defines all communities – they are individual and different.

In the words of a brilliant young woman rap poet, accountant and Melbourne citizen, who opened the conference by saying ‘We don’t all have to play the same game – play your own game.’

The beauty of the few days in Melbourne sharing stories and listening to how others enrich their communities was in both giving and learning ideas from others about how we might do things or how not to, how we can support each other grow community philanthropy and how there are so many ways to do that!

Day 2 – ‘You don’t have to be an athlete to run and you don’t have to be a millionaire to give’
In a world where we are all now connected as part of The Global Village that social theorist Marshal McLuan once dreamed, we also want to be part of village life, we need a strong sense of belonging to our own local community now more than ever.

There’s a transition happening from the embrace of the excitement that Australia, though far from Europe, China & the Americas and others on the planet can be part of a global neighborhood, to truly thinking about strengthening our own communities in Australia.

Community Foundations can tap into this sentiment and encourage people to give local, building local community knowledge and strength.

The launch of Lord Mayor’s Charitable Trust Funds Vital Signs, taking the pulse of Melbourne and framed to advance global issues of social inclusion and resilience, environmental sustainability, genuine diversity and shelter for all, was a perfect demonstration of how community foundations have an independence and role beyond government and politics to strengthen local community and build a stronger planet.

For Sydney Community Foundation,in a community of almost 5 million people across Greater Sydney, there is growing need and much to do in the broken suburbs. Across greater Sydney more and more people  need access to work and learning, places to enjoy and  to share community life to build their sense of belonging and home.

The cities community foundation and its giving circles have a real role to play.  Building community is about collective effort. Ian Bird from the Community Foundations of Canada captured the essence of purpose for all of us interested in community foundations and their impact.

He said ‘We need to grow a shared sense of responsibility for what happens in our communities… You don’t have to be an athlete to run and you don’t have to be a millionaire to give.’

Jane Jose is the Chief Executive Officer of the Sydney Community Foundation, Australia.

Tagged in: #NCFF17

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