What we do

We hold events, field trips, collaborative funding opportunities, create grantmaking tools and facilitate networking with grantmakers from across Australia.

Our contribution to change

To achieve change, we work to grow effective funding to the environment and sustainability in five key ways.

  1. We work with and inspire philanthropists to build their capacity to give more and give powerfully by providing a safe space to explore their approach to giving and develop potential collaborations.
  2. We strengthen the philanthropic sector’s skills and knowledge in environmental giving by connecting funders with trusted experts and information, and opportunities to network and learn.
  3. We build the profile of environmental giving in philanthropic and other sectors.
  4. We focus on growing philanthropy and investment for a sustainable Australia.
  5. We showcase innovative approaches to giving, collaborating and addressing environment issues.
Contribution to change

Our performance

Our aims are ambitious and long term. So that we can monitor and report on our progress towards achieving them, we have established specific measures and indicators of progress for outputs and results. 

We will:

  • collect relevant quantitative and qualitative data
  • use the data to assess our progress
  • use the findings of those assessments to make appropriate changes to our work in order to increase our effectiveness in achieving our goals
  • report to our members on progress toward these goals.

At an operational level, our plans will specify outputs and key performance indicators for positions and projects that directly align to the aims and activities in this plan.

In 2019, we commissioned a survey of our effectiveness and member satisfaction — Pulse Check 2019 — to track our performance against a benchmarking study completed in 2015. We also commissioned a scan of eight environmental grantmaker networks from around the world to help us assess our effectiveness from an international perspective.

Overall, findings confirm we are making a positive and important contribution to environmental philanthropy in Australia. Similarly, the scan of environmental grantmaker networks shows that much of what we provide to members is “top of class”. The analysis found we have strong relationships with members, all of whom are provided with high quality and diverse resources and guidance to improve and increase their environmental philanthropy.

Pulse check 2019

As key data from Pulse Check 2019 shows, members deeply value their involvement with the AEGN: 87 per cent are satisfied or very satisfied with their membership while more than 90 per cent are likely to refer prospective environmental grantmakers to the network.

Significantly, we support members to:

Increase environmental grantmaking

  • 64 per cent have decided to increase the amount of funding allocated to the environment since becoming a member; 92 per cent of these members say the AEGN contributed to this decision.

Improve practice

  • 91 per cent say their involvement with the AEGN has positively influenced their approach to environmental grantmaking and helped them to evolve their grantmaking practice.

Enhance strategy

  • 56 per cent have divested in whole or in part from their investment in fossil fuels; just under half of these members say the AEGN has played a role in this decision.

Build their networks

  • 73 per cent say their membership has played a significant role in helping them to expand their network of environmental grantmakers.

Access information and identify funding opportunities

  • 55 per cent say their membership has helped them significantly to learn more about environmental issues.
  • 63 per cent say their membership had helped them significantly to identify environmental funding opportunities.

Our plan

To achieve our aspirations, we have developed five aims to guide what we will work on and five aims to guide how we will work.

We aim to

  1. Catalyse collaboration
  2. Build and share skills and knowledge
  3. Raise the profile of environmental giving and investing
  4. Grow amount of funding and investments for a sustainable future
  5. Invest in innovation

We aim to achieve these outcomes by

  1. Focusing on members
  2. Ensuring good governance
  3. Maintaining financial strength and stability
  4. Investing in people
  5. Streamlining systems and processes

What we will work on

Aim 1: Catalyse collaboration

We will boost connection and collaboration among our members, enabling them to work together on projects and major issues.

Why? By actively creating a sense of community amongst members, connecting donors, convening and supporting special events and providing mechanisms for donors to work together, we can support our members to achieve more as part of a powerful network.

To achieve this aim we will

  • support member-to-member collaboration by:
    • convening signature events including the annual conference and field trips
    • connecting individual members with common interests
    • exploring collaborative funding models developing effective funder collaborations with clear objectives, including the establishment of annual plans and budgets, strong governance and adequate staff or consultant support
    • managing the Project Clearinghouse including regular reporting
    • supporting members to hold their own events and workshops.
  • collaborate with other philanthropic organisations and community sector affinity groups and alliances either by playing a thought leadership role or as an active partner. We will do this by:
    • working with Philanthropy Australia, Australian Communities Foundation and others
    • exploring the potential to take a more international approach
    • where appropriate, convening collaborations on the big issues.
  • collaborate with specific sectors including different levels of government and potentially universities to offer opportunities for member advocacy, especially as it relates to environmental philanthropy, in line with a new advocacy strategy.

Aim 2: Build and share skills and knowledge

Our members will have a much clearer understanding of environmental issues and effective funding approaches and will be more confident and skilled in their funding decisions.

Why? By providing funders with a trusted and safe space to build their confidence and knowledge of strategies for impact and by providing access to experts with up-to-date information on current and emerging issues, we are equipping them to make the best decisions about funding.

Sharing funding experiences and knowledge of what does and does not work can rapidly build a more sophisticated and impactful philanthropic sector.

To achieve this aim we will

  • provide tools and resources to meet members’ critical skills and knowledge needs regarding both issues and funding approaches
  • continue to foster and use external relationships with experts and practitioners, including fostering the knowledge and experience of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples
  • enable sharing of good grantmaking practice, experiences and outcomes by providing case studies and stories on platforms such as the website and newsletter
  • connect members to global philanthropic networks
  • explore the use of systems thinking, the Sustainable Development Goals and other tools.

Aim 3: Raise the profile of environmental funding and investing

The broader philanthropic sector takes the environment and sustainability into account in its giving and investing decisions.

Why? Australians are greatly concerned about the future of our natural environment, but many people don’t know how to put this concern into action.

We are a thought leader and work within the philanthropic and wealth sector to catalyse this concern into funding and investing for a sustainable world. To do this we need to raise the profile of what can be achieved by using capital for good sustainability outcomes and normalising the practice of granting and investing in the environment

To achieve this aim we will

  • partner with other philanthropic institutions and the wealth sector to promote environmental philanthropy and investing
  • develop and implement a strategy to research environmental giving trends
  • produce giving stories and case studies for distribution to the broader sector
  • build the profile of environmental grantmaking in the mainstream media
  • broaden awareness of our network to non-environmental grantmakers.

Aim 4: Grow the amount of funding and investing for a sustainable Australia

The Environmental Giving Pledge has raised an estimated $70 million extra funds for targeted and game-changing projects and organisations (based on June 2020 figures). The number of members divesting from fossil fuel industries and investing in sustainable development will have grown.

Why? By increasing the amount of philanthropic funds given to environmental sustainability issues and by using philanthropic corpuses and other capital to invest in a sustainable economy, we can assist a rapid transition to a sustainable future.

This will include impact investing and responsible investing across all asset classes.

To achieve this aim we will

  • implement the Environmental Giving Pledge campaign including reaching out to all members and potential new donors to join the campaign. This will include a specific web presence, recording and sharing pledges and stories, and celebrating milestones
  • outreach to other sectors such as the social justice, health, housing and financial sectors by testing and developing a range of tools including a “climate lens”
  • offer a divestment and impact investment noticeboard and tailored or general workshops.

Aim 5: Investing in innovation

Together with our members, we will be using state-of-the-art collaboration, information-sharing and funding tools and approaches.

Why? Using resources — time, talent and new technology, strategy and processes — as efficiently and effectively as possible is essential to achieving rapid transformation toward a sustainable Australia.

We play a role in disseminating and facilitating innovative techniques and opportunities.

To achieve this we will

  • showcase innovative approaches to achieving sustainability
  • use technology to improve philanthropic collaboration. This will include building a new website with a digital platform for members to communicate with each other, along with other digital communication tools
  • develop an approach to measure environmental grantmaking impact
  • use new network thinking (a subset of systems thinking) and design in all that we do.

How we will work

Aim 1: Focus on members

Members remain the heart and soul of the AEGN.

Why? We exist to support our membership: it is the members who do the heavy lifting of environmental giving and investing. Without the support, renewal and growth of the membership, we would not be able to fulfil our vision, mission or goals.

To achieve this aim we will

  • develop and implement a member and outreach strategy, with the aim of increasing membership to 200 by 2022
  • ensure member retention rates remain high
  • ensure opportunities for regular member feedback
  • ensure regular opportunities for member involvement and access to services
  • continue to develop our presence in regions beyond Victoria, New South Wales, Australian Capital Territory and Queensland
  • work to encourage greater diversity in the philanthropic sector
  • continue to explore different categories of membership including corporate membership
  • continue to offer a welcoming culture that embraces inclusion, generosity, different political views and approaches to change, and diverse backgrounds.

Aim 2: Good governance and accountability

We are well governed by an excellent Board and supported by clearly articulated policies and a comprehensive monitoring and evaluation framework.

Why? Good governance will support and maintain our strategic direction, ensure our objectives are achieved, manage our risks and help us to use our resources responsibly and with accountability.

To achieve this aim we will

  • maintain and recruit an excellent Board with an appropriate range of skills, knowledge and member representation
  • ensure Board committees are established to track our overall governance
  • build, maintain and apply an appropriate policy framework and risk strategy
  • implement a comprehensive monitoring and evaluation framework that includes a high level of reporting to the Board and members and donors.

Aim 3: Financial strength and stability

We are well resourced to undertake all its activities by having a strong financial foundation, which includes stable sources of income.

Why? To be able to implement this strategic plan, the AEGN must be well resourced by a stable and diversified range of income streams.

To achieve this aim we will

  • ensure income each year to achieve the annual operational plan
  • develop a diverse income plan, which includes three-year donation and grant commitments, fees for major events, a fee for services model and the growth of the Sustaining Fund.

Aim 4: Investing in people

We will invest in our people, building their skills and expertise to maintain a high functioning staff group that runs the organisation smoothly in a fast-changing operating environment.

Why? Given that fewer than a third of our members employ their own staff, recruiting and maintaining excellent staff with a strong environmental knowledge base is fundamental to assisting members and achieving our goals.

To achieve this aim we will

  • attract and retain high-quality staff and consultants
  • ensure staff have adequate resources and support to fulfil their functions
  • develop and implement an achievable annual operational plan.

Aim 5: Good systems and processes

Our functions are supported by excellent systems and processes.

Why? We turned 10 in 2018. To reflect this development and the growth in membership and level of ambition, the systems and processes that support operations must be upgraded in a major step change.

In addition to this, we are supported by the scarce resources of the philanthropic sector and these resources need to be used as efficiently and effectively as possible.

Underpinning all work with excellent systems and processes will help to achieve this aim.

To achieve this we will

  • effectively use an excellent contacts database
  • implement efficient integrated systems and processes. These need to include our website, digital member platform, accounting systems and contacts database.

Become a member

It’s been exciting to see the growth in sophistication of how the AEGN operates. For the benefit of all.

Hayley Morris, Morris Family Foundation