Report shows charitable grants rose in NSW, dropped in Victoria and Queensland in 2020


Charitable funds directed through Equity Trustees to New South Wales jumped from 12 months ago, while dropping in Victoria and Queensland, according to the latest annual Giving Review from Equity Trustees. 

As a specialist trustee provider of philanthropic funding, Equity Trustees provides structures for charitable giving across Australia. It noted that total giving was solidly up on the prior year, with charitable grants to New South Wales increasing in response to the need for emergency bushfire assistance funding.  

Disaster response a priority 

The report also reveals that national and international funding was 14% of total funding in 2020, compared to 6% in 2019. 

Jodi Kennedy, General Manager Charitable Trusts and Philanthropy, noted that while international funding remained stable, national giving had increased largely due to the consolidation of state based not-for-profits  to national entities, where much of the giving was directed during the early 2020 bushfires and the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“These disasters crossed various state borders and many of the main responders to both these disasters were larger, national entities with a ‘human services’ focus,” she said. 

Kennedy said the 2020 bushfires and pandemic had led to an extremely challenging year for the for-purpose sector. 

“As well as deep concern from our philanthropic clients, we received hundreds of calls from organisations that were overwhelmed by the short-term needs of communities, as well as experiencing a drop in funding and volunteers. What we then saw was a huge spike in burnout and fatigue within the sector,” she said. 

In 2020, Equity Trustees allocated a total of $3 million in one-off payments of $5,000 to $50,000 to 70 organisations to meet this need, also simplifying the grant application process to allow funding to be delivered quickly. 

“We were highly focused on delivering rapid response grants to communities affected by the bushfires and COVID-19, as well as ensuring organisations had the necessary funding to keep the lights on in extraordinary times,” Kennedy said. 

A broader focus 

While traditionally focused on Victoria where Equity Trustees was established in 1888, it has been actively working with new and well-established philanthropists to increase its spread of granting at a state, national and international level in recent years. 

In New South Wales Equity Trustees gave $50,000 to BackTrack Youth Works, which works with disadvantaged young people aged 12 to 19 to provide education, training and employment opportunities. 

 The foundation also gave $30,000 to The GO Foundation, which creates opportunities for indigenous youth through education. Meanwhile, $38,000 went to Sydney Theatre Company for emergency funding. 

In Queensland, Equity Trustees awarded $12m over five years for The Salvation Army Queensland’s Transformation Through Innovation project, which is focused on housing, accommodation and alternative education in the state. 

In Victoria$600,000 over two years went to Evidence for Learning, which helps to break the cycle of disadvantage by using evidence-based research to promote great teaching practice. 

Western Australia went to $88,000 for the Noongar Charitable Trust for their “Cultural Healing on Country project, delivering four overnight healing camps to members of the Noongar Aboriginal community focusing on strengthening cultural identity and cultural healing. 

In South Australia, Equity Trustees granted $200,000 for The Centre for Social Innovation, which is focused on developing new and better ways to build social and economic prosperity for all and $114,000 for the continued development and maintenance of Thalassa Park and Gardens in Adelaide. 

In Tasmania, funding of $90,000 was allocated for the Tasmanian Council of Social Service Inc’s Health Justice Partnership in Tasmania project, which is working to address intersecting health, social and legal problems for families in the region. 

Meanwhile, in the Northern Territory, $20,000 went to the Purple House, an indigenous run and owned health service that travels throughout NT to deliver dialysis and social support for those in remote communities. 

Continuing support for not-for-profits 

Kennedy said a key focus for Equity Trustees in 2021 would be on continuing to support the philanthropic sector through the ongoing impacts of COVID-19. 

“Typically, there is a time lag in philanthropy and with less money to go around, as well as the end of government stimulus payments, we will no doubt see many organisations not able to continue delivering their services this year.” 

“Equity Trustees will play a leadership role in advocating for the importance of the for-purpose sector and will continue to fund the sector to build capacity to ensure its long-term sustainability, she said.