The Foundation’s chief executive officer Catherine Brown said, “We honour Mr Eldon Foote’s incredible generosity and we acknowledge him as an inspiration for other people wanting to support community causes in their wills as a lasting legacy.
“As a leading philanthropic organisation, we are highly regarded for our strong governance and expertise in philanthropic law and guidelines. It is one of the attributes that attracted Mr Foote, a lawyer and businessman, to the Foundation. The Board works very hard to ensure all aspects of Mr Foote’s Deed of Gift have been activated.
“We strongly reject any suggestion, as reported in The Sunday Age, that we are not complying with the Foote Deed of Gift.
“We are respected as a caring and innovative organisation within Australian philanthropy, who respects the philanthropic goals, gifts and bequests of all donors.”
The Foundation’s track record of strong governance is supported by a high calibre Board and senior management team who all have expertise in charitable giving. The Foundation’s chair Andrew Baxter is CEO at Publicis, and the Investment Committee is chaired by Raphael Arndt, CIO of Future Fund. The Foundation is audited by Deloitte and undertakes an internal audit program, currently led by Oakton.
The Foundation is governed by an Act of Parliament which was first passed in 1930, updated in 1996 and recently replaced by a new Act in July 2017. The Foundation reports each year to the Australian Charities and Not for Profit Commission and is bound by Treasury’s Ancillary Funds Guidelines in relation to administration of the Lord Mayor’s Charitable Fund. Under the new Act, the Foundation may also be the trustee of other charitable funds.
“The Foundation is deeply indebted to Mr Foote for his generosity. His lasting legacy of $140 million will continue to increase the Foundation’s capacity for contributing to the health and wellbeing of many communities around Australia,” said Catherine Brown
Mr Foote’s bequest has significantly increased and expanded the Foundation’s granting capacity. In the past two years $13 million has been granted to charitable organisations in areas of interest to Mr Foote.
Lord Mayor’s Charitable Foundation prioritises its grants program around four Impact Areas based on the priority needs of the community including Homelessness & Affordable Housing; Environment & Sustainability; Healthy & Resilient Communities; and Education & Employment.
Within this framework, the Foundation funds in the areas of interest in Mr Foote’s Deed of Gift which includes arts, heritage, education, athletics, recreation, education, environmental and social causes. Sport and recreation are not charitable at law in Australia, but charities undertaking projects or scholarships in these areas have been supported.
Some projects cover more than one area, for example the Contemporary Arts Precinct project covers arts and education; CLIMARTE festival covers both the arts and environment, and the Life Saving Victoria project relates to sport, education, employment and social cohesion. Some projects are funded in Victoria however are undertaken by organisations with national reach.
A selection of recent grants also include:
- Arts – Arts West
- Heritage - Museums Victoria
- Education – River Nile School, Centre for Multicultural Youth
- Environment – University of Melbourne FoodPrint project, RMIT Microplastics project, Port Phillip EcoCentre Public Fund, ClimateWorks
- Athletics - Foote scholarship at University of Canberra
- Medical Research - Royal Victorian Eye and Ear Hospital (diabetic retinopathy), University of Sydney (retinal blindness)
- Social Causes - FMC Mediation and Counselling Victoria for elder abuse project.
As a Foundation that aims to give priority to the most critical issues facing the community, some interest areas will have larger funding allocations than others. This changes over time based on evidence of need within the community. These areas are also funded from the Foundation's other funds within the Lord Mayor's Charitable Fund.
“Although Mr Foote’s Deed of Gift specifies that the Board of the Foundation is responsible for granting upon Mr Foote's death, as a courtesy to Mrs Foote, the Board invites Mrs Foote to make grants recommendations up to $750,000 to causes of personal interest to her, which may be within or outside Victoria,” said Catherine.
“In addition, during the current updating of the Foundation’s Act, the Foundation has sought to ensure that distributions made from Foote funds that sit outside the public ancillary fund can be applied to a broad range of charitable organisations, irrespective of their location within Australia.”
As part of the Foundation’s governance, all grant recipients are required to provide detailed evaluation reports on the effectiveness of their grant. These reports are evaluated by the Foundation’s program managers and grants advisory panels to ensure strong governance is upheld and maintained throughout all aspects of the Foundation’s grants program.
A full list of grants made by the Foundation through the grants program, including the Foote Donor Advised Program, is included in the annual report providing a high level of transparency and accountability.
“Lord Mayor’s Charitable Foundation is deeply indebted to Mr Foote for his generosity, which has enabled the Foundation to increase our capacity in supporting the health and wellbeing of people and communities. The impact of his gift will be appreciated, celebrated and remembered forever,” added Catherine.