Equity Trustees has restructured its granting program to direct more than $10m of annual discretionary charitable giving into five key areas: Children and Young People, Medical Research and Health, Ageing and Aged Care, Animals and Environment, and Partnerships Program.

“We, like our partners in the not for profit sector and our philanthropic clients, are constantly learning and changing to find better ways to address community challenges and need,” said Mick O’Brien, Managing Director of Equity Trustees.

Discretionary distributions are possible where Equity Trustees has been appointed as the sole trustee of a charitable trust and given discretion to choose the charities and causes to receive funding. This is distinct from the other charitable trusts Equity Trustees manages which were established with specific instructions regarding how the income is to be granted or are managed in collaboration with co-trustees. An additional $60m of charitable distributions are made each year from those trusts that have specific directions and co-trustees.

“If we want to see change, we have to change too – to keep up with issues we face as a community, the demand for philanthropic investment, and also the energy of new generations of philanthropists who want to be confident they are achieving the most impact possible,” Mr O’Brien said.

General Manager of Philanthropy, Tabitha Lovett said the specialist philanthropy team at Equity Trustees consulted widely with the not-for-profit and charitable sector, with co-trustees and donors, analysed the direction of public policy, and reviewed the data from the charitable distributions made by Equity Trustees each year across discretionary and non-discretionary trusts before settling on the five key areas.

“This restructuring of our discretionary granting program follows a purposeful search for a better way to direct charitable distributions that align with and realise the wishes of the trusts’ founders, as well as having the best chance of empowering change by bringing trusts with similar objectives into focused program areas,” she said.

The five areas are:

1. Children and Young People ($1.8m) – funds aimed at assisting children and young people to take their place in life

2. Medical Research and Health ($3.6m) – supporting innovation in medical and health research, services and clinical practice

3. Ageing and Aged Care ($2.2m) – supporting people to age well and die with dignity

4. Animals and Environment ($1m) – supporting conservation of Australian native fauna, addressing climate change and animal welfare

5. Partnerships Program ($1.7m) – supporting social inclusion and social innovation, including building capacity or organisations and communities to address emerging issues.

The appointment of a dedicated evaluation specialist within the philanthropy team has seen the Company commit to providing impact evaluation of individual program areas, as well as evaluating the more than $70 million distributed across the sector from more than 450 charitable trusts managed by Equity Trustees.

“Equity Trustees recognises the significant role of philanthropy to lead positive change. It is our responsibility as trustee to ensure that the legacy of our generous philanthropists, who entrusted their charitable trusts to our care, are honoured by ensuring that we apply our expertise to generate as much positive impact as possible,” said Ms Lovett.

“That includes working collaboratively with the sector and the not-for-profits who work at the front line of human vulnerability, and with public policy, and research institutions. Of course, central to all of this is working with the growing numbers of families and individuals who through philanthropy, want to ‘be’ the change they want to see in the world, and who direct their giving towards that aim during their lifetime and beyond.”

More detail on each of the key areas will be released as grants in each of the categories become available, and applications open throughout the coming 12 months.

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