Thursday, 6 April 2023

The Autumn edition of e-Connect is a great reflection of the centenary milestone that the Lord Mayor’s Charitable Foundation has reached. It shares some history over the last ten decades and also highlights some of the forward thinking work we are supporting and leading.

Lord Mayor’s Charitable Foundation has played a more significant role within Melbourne’s philanthropy since 1923 than many people may realise. We are in a sense one of Melbourne’s best kept secrets and we hope that this centenary year will be an opportunity to share our history and impact more widely.

Melbourne leads Australian philanthropy due to our post-gold rush wealth and the generosity of entrepreneurs who gave back to the Melbourne that was good to them. Sir John Swanson, Melbourne’s Lord Mayor, captured this generosity of spirit when he established The Lord Mayor’s Fund for Metropolitan Hospitals and Charities in 1923 to raise funds from the community to support public hospitals who were overrun with demand. People returning from World War I with long-term medical conditions and disabilities required treatment but were often facing financial disadvantage. The Melbourne community was generous and the Fund responded to this first challenge.

Over the decades, the community has faced many challenges. There have been major bushfires in Victoria, floods and heatwaves. There have been economic downturns and tough times. There have been newly migrated and refugee communities requiring support. New medical conditions such as HIV/AIDS and the COVID-19 pandemic have emerged. Through all of this, the Foundation has continued granting to a total of almost $200 million to address Melbourne’s most pressing needs. We have been building financial and social capital to support Melbourne no matter what the future brings.

Looking forward, we have just announced three important granting Initiatives. The Affordable Housing Challenge continues to unlock underutilised land for affordable housing and to support new approaches to solving this difficult issue. The Next Economy Jobs Challenge expanded this year through a collaboration with the Paul Ramsay Foundation and we will be looking for innovative job creation solutions from social enterprises and innovative charities in the clean, green, caring and digital economies.

Climate Resilient Neighbourhoods is a new Initiative, which aims to fund three or four demonstration projects in Greater Melbourne to show how we can build connections, capability and on ground responses to increase resilience to climate change. This is important work and, while reducing emissions is critical, building community climate resilience is the other arm of responding to climate change. We have been working on heatwave resilience since 2016 and are also supporting the Community Collaborative for Resilience.

A centenary is a moment in time when you can reflect with us about what has been contributed by the Foundation (formerly the Fund) to make our community more inclusive, healthy and resilient. It is also about looking forward and growing our funds so that even more can be done.

Please share the stories you read with others so we can all feel proud of Melbourne as the home of community giving.

Dr Catherine Brown OAM
Chief Executive Officer