Friday, 30 June 2023

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June is a special month for the Foundation’s centenary. It is the month our office first opened to accept donations from the public in 1923 and we recently celebrated this centenary milestone with our Swanson Society Dinner.

I am sure that the founders of The Lord Mayor’s Fund for Metropolitan Hospitals and Charities, now Lord Mayor’s Charitable Foundation, especially Lord Mayor Sir John Swanson, would be proud to see that their legacy has continued and that we remain a strong supporter of our city, adapting to changing needs and circumstances. This adaptability is clearly demonstrated in the stories about the last fifty years of the Foundation’s philanthropy.

There are themes that weave through our history which tell a story of our community’s challenges and opportunities.

One is disaster response. We have supported the community through disasters since the 1926 bushfires and then many disasters including the recent floods and the 2019/2020 Black Summer bushfires. Given that heatwaves and disasters are likely to increase as our climate warms, we are working to prepare our community so that we are as resilient as possible.

We have also supported the community through the great depression and economically tough times, with a special focus on overcoming disadvantage.

Our Next Economy Jobs Challenge is underway for the second year and will be supporting innovative social enterprises and training relating to jobs in clean, green and caring economies. While we face challenges, we must also embrace opportunities for a more inclusive and sustainable city.

The story on Good Deliveries, a low emission city service developed by Good Cycles, a social enterprise we have supported for many years, is another example of fresh thinking in this space.

Once again in the Winter edition of Connect, we see the importance of the Foundation providing early funding to seed and test new ideas and solutions to homelessness, wealth inequality and climate change.

It is a wonderful moment to reflect on the Affordable Housing Challenge, which will begin operating in July. Thirty-nine units of well-designed, well-located and energy-efficient housing in Preston which started with a $1 million challenge grant and then a site generously provided by the City of Darebin on a long term lease. Housing Choices Australia is the community housing provider, one of Australia’s leading organisations in affordable housing. This project attracted Big Housing Build funding so is also a partnership with the State Government. This is one of many examples of collaborative projects which the Foundation is supporting.

The Productivity Commission’s Inquiry into Philanthropy is a unique opportunity to shine the light on the need to grow a stronger culture of giving in Australia.

Community foundations are leading philanthropy vehicles in the US, Canada, UK and Europe (and elsewhere) due to their local knowledge, strong back offices and donor services.

Lord Mayor’s Charitable Foundation has made a submission to the Inquiry and looks forward to offering any new donor opportunities that emerge, for example super bequests.

People giving to people for current needs and to support future generations is at the core of the Foundation’s approach to philanthropy.

The donor stories from Dr Sandra Hacker AO, a former Deputy Board Chair of the Foundation and Mr Gordon Moffatt AM, a former Board Chair, show deep commitment to community philanthropy. These are thoughtful people who think deeply about the needs of those facing disadvantage.

There is a pride and a joy in giving back to the community you love. Please give during our centenary to mark this special moment.

Dr Catherine Brown OAM
Chief Executive Officer

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