Grantmaking guide booklets

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

Giving Green: Guide to grantmaking

This is step 1 of 10 of the Giving Green grantmaking guide. For a hard copy of this guide, email

This guide assumes that you aim to be organised about your giving, 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 – such funds are established by a will or trust deed and can only exist for the purposes of providing grants to deductible gift recipients
  • a trust or foundation established by will – this is a testamentary trust established by committing a particular sum or specific assets or the residual of an estate
  • a sub-fund in a community foundation – this is a named fund under the umbrella of a not-for-profit community foundation which offers administrative and investment services
  • a foundation or giving program with a trustee company – this is a foundation where a trustee business will act as sole trustee or co-trustee and will provide administrative and investment services
  • 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 will find information below on organisations and resources that can help you get started.

It is also good to decide how much you might have to give away. Sometimes it’s hard to know exactly, for instance because of variability in investment income, but try to guess how much you might give for the next three years. This will help guide you in deciding what to fund.

The savvy funder

“While there is growing enthusiasm and involvement in giving, the work of philanthropy is still being pioneered, with people breaking new ground with ideas and strategic approaches. 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.”

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


Not-for-profit organisations

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

Philanthropy Australia (PA) 

PA 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, an Introductory Guide to Grantmaking and The Guide to Giving, 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 (ACF)

ACF 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. ACF uses its grantmaking expertise and knowledge of community issues to assist donors to develop giving plans.

Our Community and the Australian Institute of Grants Management (AIGM)

The AIGM is the grantmaking arm of Our Community. It is a best-practice network for government and local government grants managers and grantmakers. The AIGM helps grantmakers review and improve their grants programs, and keep abreast of best practice in Australia and internationally.

The AIGM has produced the Grantmaking Toolkit: The Smart Way to Build, Review or Refresh your Grants Program. The toolkit has a comprehensive and detailed set of worksheets, guidelines, policies and processes to help you set up or review a grants program.

Australian Philanthropic Services (APS)

Australian Philanthropic Services (APS) 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, the APS Foundation, and works with other interested groups who wish to establish their own public ancillary fund. APS also provides grantmaking support and advice.

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’s 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’s 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 – see above.
  • Join the AEGN.

How do members use the AEGN to help them in their donation programs?

  • They look for environmental projects that require funding in the AEGN’s clearing house. AEGN members seeking to collaborate with others on particular projects place those projects in the AEGN’s clearing house. They also list projects they can’t fund themselves but recommend. This is a great place to find projects that require funding and on which someone else has done the due diligence.
  • They seek advice from other members about projects on a specific topic, region or issue.
  • They attend conferences or 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 or learn from.
  • They attend AEGN field trips. These trips are crash courses in funding in a particular region or theme. Most members who attend trips end up doing some shared funding and many people continue their relationship with the community groups they meet on the trip.
  • They join a funder group to collaborate with other funders, share ideas and work together.

Worksheet questions

  1. What type of funder are you? For example, are you an individual donor, a private ancillary fund, a trust etc?
  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?

Proceed to step 2.