I am always surprised, on reflection, how busy the preceding months have been. While you’re doing it the pace just seems natural and yet stepping away or being given a few days to review events it seems amazing that so much has happened.
One of those interesting things was to attend the Australian Community Philanthropy Forum in Goolwa recently where I met some incredible people working and volunteering in this quiet sector that supports so much of the good in our communities.
We were greeted on the first evening with a welcome to country from the Ngarrindjerri people which was warmly amusing as we were taught the dances of the area from a troupe of youngsters sharing their love of country. The official opening the next morning was given by the remarkable Governor of South Australia Hieu Van Le a Vietnamese refugee who escaped that conflict and shared his story of the generosity of strangers, the opportunities provided and the support he and his wife received upon arriving in Australia. His story and subsequent development shared with humour and heartache was a wonderful way to understand how philanthropy crosses all borders.
So, to philanthropy. It doesn’t surprise me that many people haven’t heard of philanthropy and yet it impacts on all of us. Philanthropy is defined as ‘the desire to promote the welfare of others, expressed especially by the generous donation of money to good causes”. For some it’s volunteering to assist small not-for-profit groups survive by giving, time, effort or professional skill with no expectation or reward.
For others it’s creating programs and funding that support the development of particular people, culture or demographics in our communities because support does not exist. It can be providing support and identifying for government and the community the gaps in their focus and filling those gaps.
Figures provided showed that there are 39 community foundations holding around $415 million dollars under management. The intention of those foundations is to grow the funds in perpetuity and to be able to provide support to communities from the interest each year forever. We see $31 million dollars in grants to communities across the country filling the gap that has been left by government as their attention moves elsewhere.
The funds come from the community and many nameless members of those communities whose generosity is seen in their gift which is then carefully managed and distributed to support community need.
We can all be a part of this movement if we can offer time, skill, energy or money to assist in building a shared place. A community is a group of living things sharing the same environment. They usually have shared interests. In human communities, people have some of the same beliefs and needs, and this affects the identity of the group and the people in it.
To be a community you need to build community. How about finding out about yours?