The latest activity, moves and news within the fundraising sector

A prehistoric playground

A one-of-a-kind paleontological adventure garden is coming to Melbourne Museum later this year. The Gandel Gondwana Garden is named in recognition of the generous support from Victorian philanthropists John and Pauline Gandel. The 900 square metre outdoor area will expand Melbourne Museum’s spaces for children connecting the much-loved Pauline Gandel Children’s Gallery to the newly opened Triceratops: Fate of the Dinosaurs. Named after the supercontinent Gondwana that connected most of the southern hemisphere including Australia, visitors will discover a palaeontological adventure, encountering Victoria’s prehistoric megafauna, plants, habitats and ecosystems in a sensory and interactive journey as they move through the evolution of the state’s environment.


A study commissioned by the MacArthur Foundation on the finances of 130,000 nonprofits found that an expenditure allocation of 29% to indirect costs was the minimum needed by financially healthy organisations. The average indirect costs for the nonprofits analysed in an Australian study was 33% of total costs, with significant variations that fell between 26% and 47%.


(Source: Paying what it takes: funding indirect costs to create long-term impact, Centre for Social Impact, Philanthropy Australia and Social Ventures Australia, March 2022.)


Funders must pay what it takes

A new report released in March by the Centre for Social Impact, Philanthropy Australia and Social Ventures Australia found that the dominant funding model for not-for-profits is failing to cover indirect operating costs, threatening capability and effectiveness across the sector.

The Paying what it takes report found that indirect costs or overheads (such as IT, finance, human resources, learning and development, measurement, and evaluation) comprised an average 33% of the total cost of running a not-for-profit enterprise, whereas funding agreements typically accounted for indirect costs of just 10 to 20%.

A significant proportion of nonprofits said they underreported indirect costs in the belief that funders are unwilling to fund more than 20% of indirect costs. Yet the research found that there is clear evidence that allocating insufficient funds to indirect costs can potentially reduce overall effectiveness. There is also some evidence that higher-impact nonprofits may actually invest more in indirect costs.

The report, supported by the Paul Ramsay Foundation and Origin Energy Foundation, warns that Australian not-for-profits, which are already vulnerable in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, are at risk of being locked into a ‘starvation cycle’ that threatens their ability to deliver their services. It recommends a number of actions, including calling for philanthropic and government funders to offer full-cost funding to ensure not-for-profit organisations can maximise their impact.

It is hoped that the report will prove a catalyst for a game-changing discussion about funding in Australia. “Both funders and not-for-profits should be encouraged to have an open, productive dialogue around the true costs of any proposed programs or initiatives,” said Paul Ramsay Foundation Director, Ilana Atlas.

Paul Ramsay Foundation has stepped up and committed to adopting an interim 30% for indirect costs across grants with flexibility to shift lower or higher if needed. 

This is a global problem for charities. In the UK, the CAF Charity Landscape 2022 report, which asks charity leaders about the challenges and opportunities they’re facing, recommends that grantmakers should consider charity resilience when looking at funding requests. Charities need core funding, and the report argues that giving charities the time and space to identify where they need to strengthen – for example, in leadership or financial acumen skills – will be vital for their long-term success.

Communicating social impact

Within a decade, just like financial reporting, social impact reporting will be viewed as essential, if not mandatory. This insight comes from research specialist McCrindle in their recent report, Communicating your social impact: Exploring Australians’ understanding and expectations of social impact reporting.

So how should you best communicate that social impact? According to the report, the most engaging forms of social impact reporting are short video summaries (with an average 47% of Australians seeing this as the most engaging format), infographics (43%), and interactive web reports (39%). These formats are preferred over articles (36%), written reports (31%) and podcasts (28%), but it is important to note that age plays a role in preference.

In terms of frequency, the majority (41%) of the more than 1000 respondents like to receive monthly updates. Another 31% want quarterly updates, one in 10 want weekly updates, with these responders mainly sitting in the Gen Z cohort.


Australia’s 2022 charity rankings

The RSPCA topped Australia’s 2022 charity rankings, according to a survey from market research specialists, YouGov. Charities were ranked according to a ‘Donor Consideration Score’,
a daily measure of which charities a respondent would likely donate to tomorrow. The survey comprised 14,000 respondents representative of the general population aged 18 and over. 

The top 10 are:


2. Guide Dogs

3. Cancer Council Australia

4. The Salvation Army

5. Beyond Blue

6. Australian Red Cross

7. Lifeline Australia

8. Ronald McDonald House Charities

9. Make-A-Wish Australia

10. National Breast Cancer Foundation


And the FINZ Awards winners are…

This year’s Fundraising Institute of New Zealand (FINZ) Awards reflect the achievements of fundraisers over the past two tumultuous years. Congrats!

Best Donor Experience Save the Children, Saving Our Supporters during a pandemic

Best Individual Giving Campaign Variety – the Children’s Charity, Give the Gift of Joy this Christmas

Best High Value Campaign Hawkes Bay Community Fitness Centre Trust, Be the Best You Can Be

Best Partner Relationship Life Flight and Westpac, Saving Lives for 40 Years

Best use of Event / Community / Fundraising Initiative Oxfam Trail Walker

Excellence in Innovation Save the Children, the Good Food Guide

Best Use of Digital Outward Bound Growth Giver Survey and Appeal

Fundraising Newcomer of the Year Trilby Benge, IHC 

Fundraising Manager / Leader of the Year Claire Carruthers, Wellington Free Ambulance

Face-to-Face Fundraiser of the Year Troy Vandergoes, Community Solutions 

Fundraising Excellence Award Life Flight (This is the major award and recognises and rewards
a nonprofit’s fundraising excellence, with a winner chosen from the categories above.)  

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