Australia’s leading specialist trustee company has released their third Annual Giving Review providing insight into the $91 million of grants and bequests overseen by the company for FY20.

Equity Trustees Annual Giving Review2020 was a rollercoaster year for giving, and philanthropy definitely stepped up to the challenge. Equity Trustees was one such company, responding to the unforeseen effects of the bushfires and the pandemic and the changing needs of the NFP sectoradvising their clients on how best to support their charity partners. 

For the Financial Year 2019-2020, they oversaw the distribution of $83.4 million in philanthropic grants – up from $78.8 million in the previous financial year. This included over 3000 grants with 204 of those over $100,000. Bequests made up $7.6 million in giving. 

To analyse their distribution of $91 million, Equity Trustees released their 2020 Annual Giving Reviewlooking into giving trends, data and insights into their funding decisions. 

While the ASX-listed company was quick to respond to the crises of 2020, impact measurement remained a key focus in their grant making. 

“The for-purpose sector needed immediate support to keep the lights on and to keep vital services going, while also needing to work towards the resilience of the sector in the long term,” says recently appointed Chair of Equity Trustees, Carol Schwartz AO.  

That meant being faster, more flexible and more innovative than ever before in our funding – adapting ourselves to what our partners told us they needed to support the community through these tough times.”  

The company established two Disaster Response Trusts after the bushfires, designed to support those impacted by the disaster by providing a channel for their clients, employees and the wider business community to give back. 

The Review released at the end of last year, also outlines the company’s framework for measuring social impact, through their Blueprint for Deepening Impact. This framework seeks to move towards a more quantitative approach to measuring long-term positive social impact achieved in their four key focus areas: 

  1. Children and young people 
  2. Ageing and aged care 
  3. Medical research and health 
  4. Animals and the environment 

As part of their Blueprint, they aim to cultivate philanthropy, strengthen the for-purpose sector and catalyse social impact to drive outcomes and deepen their community impact. 

Catalysing social impact 

Measuring the social impact of their grants is part of Equity Trustees role as a responsible funder. Last year, the company aimed to do this through a number of initiatives: 

  • RESET Survey and Programming: Equity Trustees supported the Xfactor Collective in undertaking research, outreach and advice across the nonprofit sector. 
  • Co-funded the COVID-19 Clinical Evidence Taskforce: bringing together peak health professional bodies across Australia whose members are caring for COVID-19 patients. The taskforce provides ‘living’ guidelines and best practice to clinicians providing frontline care. 
  • Streamlined grant application process: Developed impact-led forms and assessment tools via the SmartyGrants platform. 

Active philanthropists 

2020 saw many of Equity Trustees active philanthropists change and adapt to meet the unfolding bushfires and pandemic. More than 22% of their active philanthropists diverted their 2020 distributions to disaster-related funding. Around 5% supported their previous beneficiaries through untied grants. 

A signatory to the Australian Philanthropy’s Pledge, coordinated by Philanthropy Australia, Equity Trustees remained committed to listening and responding to the sector’s needs, and informing their active philanthropists on how they can contribute to this long-term rebuild. 

During the year, many of their clients embrace new technology to learn more about and connect with their community. Equity Trustees also saw a rise of intergenerational philanthropy with clients involving two or more generations in their granting decisions and strategy. 

 The gift of education 

In 2020, Equity Trustees provided over $6.7 million in primary, secondary and tertiary scholarships, specialist fellowships and awards. Many of their philanthropists see education as a powerful way to make a big impact with a small amount of money. 

Equity Trustees manages 11 ongoing scholarship trusts, working in close partnership with educational institutions.  

The cost of education can be financially demanding, and these scholarships not only provide financial relief but the knowledge that someone out there believes in the student and wants them to succeed. 

To read the full Equity Trustees Review and learn more about their funding in 2020, go here.

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