This story was sponsored by GreaterGood.
One of the benefits of living in a small community is that you look out for each other, and people tend to band together when something needs to be done.
Creating a Community Fund is taking this philanthropy to the next level, but when it comes to managing money, it is important that any structure is efficient, secure and transparent.
According to Fleur Raine, Executive Officer of GreaterGood, a public charitable foundation based in Canberra, a Community Fund meets this criterion and ensures the funds raised are distributed in accordance with your communities specific needs.
“The way the funds are invested also means that the donations keeps giving, because the fund only distributes the income earned on the capital each year. Preserving and growing the underlying investment means you will always have funds to distribute for years to come.”
Ms Raine also said that Community Funds, compared to bank accounts, can attract tax deductibility for the donors.
These benefits are attributable to the Community Fund being held under the umbrella of the Public Trustee and Guardian (PTG).
“Public Trustee and Guardian provides GreaterGood with permanence, economy of scale, infrastructure, audit, governance, accounting, reporting and investing sustained by professionals officers with appropriate skills all under one roof,” Ms Raine said.
GreaterGood leverages these services for Community Funds and, without any fees (including legal fees) or set up costs, handles the administration and all the government red tape.
Richard Gibson, from the Bungendore Community Foundation, said that being able to partner with GreaterGood and share their infrastructure made it possible for them to start their own foundation.
“It would not have been a viable proposition otherwise.
“Compared to a bank account, this is lifting the bar to a higher level and allows more sophistication and control. There is a structure in place that people can give through. Giving is a wonderful thing, and through this structure it snowballs,” he said.
Mr Gibson said the Bungendore Community Foundation was “just a committee of like-minded people representative of our community who accept donations, do a bit of fund raising and operate two accounts: our welfare account with Bendigo Bank and our account with GreaterGood.”
“The money that has been donated and fundraised over the years has been invested with the GreaterGood alongside their hundreds of millions. This has given us the opportunity to benefit from their negotiating power and robust governance. It also enables us to offer real tax deductible credits to our donors.
“We have $150,000 invested in the GreaterGood account and this year we handed $8000 to the community in grants. One day that will be $1 million and we will be handing back $60,000.
“Our grants allow the volunteers to concentrate on what they do best, rather than fundraising. We support a wide range of groups including the fire brigade, sports and cultural groups, Abbeyfield Bungendore and we also give an annual grant to the school to ensure no student misses out.
“Also, some people are really doing it tough and there can be quite a gap between government assistance and what you need. Friends who want to help can give anonymously through the Foundation.”
“We’re very keen to see this spread. It is such a good thing: it’s about taking responsible for your own community, and caring for one another, not waiting for government handouts. It can really make a huge difference to a community,” Mr Gibson said.
Mr Gibson helped Charlie Prell set up the Upper Lachlan Foundation in 2011.
“After the drought this region was doing it tough and the DPI’s subsequent Look After Your Mates campaign was so successful that we wanted to investigate ways to make it more permanent,” Mr Prell said.
“Our foundation aims to create an ongoing income stream to support local organisations and groups who in turn support the community. From small beginnings we have now invested $250,000 in five years.”
The Upper Lachlan Foundation is set up slightly differently to Bungendore’s Foundation.
It has two funds: a General Fund to which anyone can donate almost any kind of asset, including property, and a Named Fund, which allows a donor to set up their own fund under the Foundation for a minimum of $20,000 and dictate how those funds will be spent.
“It’s taken a long time to build a name in the community but now we donate annually to help fund shire halls, community gardens, St Vinnies, schools. We give to community groups, not to individuals,” he said.
Mr Prell said the structure and support the Foundation receives from the GreaterGood is key to their success.
“They help us with administrative details, and the returns from the secure investment is extraordinary. And it is all totally transparent, which is really important. We’re hoping to help others set up a network of smaller foundations; it is an important way to provide mental, physical and emotional support for locals.”
Mr Gibson said that usually when you give to a charity, your money is appreciated, spent and forgotten but with a Community Fund your gift will keep on giving back to your community long after you’ve left it.
“You will never know of course, but you could find yourself buying stuff for your great, great grandchildren. It’s a nice thought.”
This story was sponsored by GreaterGood.