Guide to grantmaking

This step-by-step guide can help you or your foundation focus your intentions and give you the tools to develop a program of environmental giving.

Step 1. Are you ready to be a planned giver?

Cheque book charity is now largely a thing of the past, and thoughtful, informed giving is emerging as a more fulfilling and effective way to share wealth… The signature of a savvy giver is to be bold and informed, to be curious and committed, and to seek out relationships that put money to work in powerful and effective ways.

Genevieve Timmons, Savvy Giving: A guide to contemporary philanthropy for donors, trustees, staff and allied professionals.

Before starting, it may help to have an idea of how much you want to give and have already set up your philanthropic vehicle as one of the following:

  • an individual donor
  • a private ancillary fund
  • a public ancillary fund
  • a trust or foundation established by will
  • a sub-fund in a community foundation
  • a foundation or giving program with a trustee company
  • a corporate giving program.

If you haven’t decided what vehicle you are going to use or how you might set up your planned giving program, you can get started by exploring some of the organisations and resources linked to the left of this page.

Not-for-profit organisations

There are a number of not-for-profit organisations dedicated to helping people who wish to give.

Philanthropy Australia is the national peak body for philanthropy and is a member-based organisation. It produces a number of useful resources including Private Ancillary Funds Trustee Handbook (pdf), an Introductory Guide to Grantmaking (pdf) and The Guide to Giving (pdf), all of which are available free online. These publications provide a good starting point and are designed for people who are new to the idea of planned giving.

Australian Communities Foundation offers individuals, families, groups, corporations and not-for-profit organisations an easy way of giving in a planned way. Donors establish philanthropic funds under a legal structure established by the Foundation, and all donations are pooled and invested. The income generated from this investment is used over time to support charitable projects and organisations. They provide grantmaking expertise and knowledge of community issues to assist donors in developing giving plans.

Our Community and the Australian Institute of Grants Management is the grantmaking arm of Our Community. It is a best-practice network for government and local government grants managers and grantmakers. They help grantmakers review and improve their grants programs, and keep abreast of best practice in Australia and internationally.

Refer to SmartyGrants for worksheets, guidelines, policies and processes to help you set up or review a grants program.

Australian Philanthropic Services inspires and supports effective philanthropy. It is an independent not-for-profit organisation that sets up and administers private ancillary funds for individuals and families, and works with professional advisers to help them help their clients do the same. It offers a public ancillary fund and works with other interested groups who wish to establish their own public ancillary fund.

For-profit organisations

Philanthropy Australia’s website has a list of for-profit service providers that can help donors set up their giving programs. The list includes legal firms, trustee companies, wealth managers, accounting and business consultancy firms, and other consultants.

Who is going to help you make a decision on what to fund?

It is important to think about who you are going to work with.

These people can be involved with you from the beginning or they might help you when you are doing your detailed research. It is important that you find people who are ‘trusted advisers’ or ‘shared decision makers’.

You have a number of options:

  • Work with others responsible for your trust or foundation such as your trustees, directors or other family members.
  • Do it yourself. This can mean you begin a fascinating journey learning about the issues you are interested in and who is working on them to make a difference. This option also gives you total control over what you do.
  • Employ someone to help you. The process of funding can be time consuming and demanding. It can also require detailed knowledge on an issue or how to fund in an area to have an impact. Employing someone with these skills and knowledge can be an effective way of making decisions on what to fund.
  • Consult an organisation that can give philanthropic advice. There is an increasing number of not-for-profit and for-profit organisations that will work with you on your philanthropic giving as consultants for defined periods of time or on a specific project.

How to use the network to help your donation programs

  • Look for environmental projects that require funding in the Project Clearinghouse. Members know and trust this is a great place to find projects that require funding and on which another trusted member has done the due diligence.
  • Seek advice from other members about projects on a specific topic, region or issue.
  • Attend conferences and workshops on issues or themes. These events are a great way of finding out more about projects and discovering other like-minded funders to collaborate with and learn from.
  • Attend field trips. These trips are crash courses in funding in a particular region or theme. Most members who attend trips end up doing shared funding and many continue their relationship with the community groups they meet on the trip.
  • Join a funder group to collaborate with other funders, share ideas and work together.

Ask yourself

  1. What type of funder are you? For example, are you an individual donor, a private ancillary fund, a trust?
  2. Approximately, how much do you intend to give away to environmental issues and in what time frame?
  3. Who is going to help you make your decisions?

Record your answers

Download and print the worksheet (pdf) to record your answers.

Join a funder group

Connect with the issues, connect with members, and connect with members around the issues. Find a funder group that is right for you.