Founded in 1923 by Lord Mayor Sir John Swanson, the Lord Mayor’s Fund for Metropolitan Hospitals and Charities as it was first known, became the central point for community giving in Melbourne at the time.
Sir John was a visionary thinker and identified a more formal need for fundraising that would provide a regular source of income for public hospitals and charities. With service men and women returning from World War 1, Melbourne’s public hospital system was under pressure to meet the needs of a growing population.
The first meeting of Lord Mayor’s Fund for Metropolitan Hospitals and Charities was held in February 1923 and its offices opened at the Melbourne Town Hall in June by Acting Premier Sir William McPherson. Daily newspapers reported that the opening of the Fund’s offices was welcomed with great fanfare and public celebration.
The newly formed Fund would also manage the Saturday and Sunday Hospital appeals which had been introduced by Mayor Thomas O’Grady in 1872.
The Fund received support from across Melbourne’s community and business sectors. It introduced a workplace giving scheme which saw workers from all industries contributing to the Fund through their wages. Annual fundraising appeals such as Flower Day, which ran from 1925 to 1975, also engaged the community in fundraising for the Fund. Special fundraising events were organised by the Lady Mayoress of the day and a committee of volunteers.
In 1930 the Lord Mayor’s Fund for Metropolitan Hospitals and Charities Act was passed in the Victorian parliament ensuring the longevity of the Fund. It was also the recipient of bequests which helped grow the corpus.
Today Lord Mayor’s Charitable Foundation is one of Australia’s leading philanthropic organisations and continues the visionary thinking of Sir John by always identifying emerging issues and responding to the needs of Melbourne.