The Various Tools and Processes that Community Foundations Use to Improve Practice


General Experiences:

The year 2000 saw the rapid increase in community foundations in the country due to the active promotion of the concept by government and private organizations that funded the Foundation for Rural and Regional Renewal. FRRR was set up to provide feasibility funding (with initial funding for administration) to potential community foundations. Alongside FRRR, the membership-based Philanthropy Australia pursued the development of community foundations as one of its key objectives.

This period created a momentum for CF development. By 2011, Philanthropy Australia was implementing a number of processes and tools for close to 40 community foundation members to promote good practice. To cite at least three of such tools:

  • Philanthropy Australia through its Community Foundation Board and its Board Committees provides manuals of practice and best practice guides, among others, to their members. These are all contained in its Resource Center which is both a formal and a virtual library with a growing catalogue of philanthropy materials. The “Community Foundations Gateway” is accessible via Philanthropy Australia‘s website (
  • There are national standards and legal benchmarks adhered to by start-up entities and by established community foundations. These are administered by the Corporate Affairs and Trust Deeds and the Australian Tax Office.
  • Both Philanthropy Australia and the government offices require a potential community foundation to undergo a long registration process that ensures that the community foundation is feasible and has a good start. This is discussed in the pages following.

At least five purposes are served by these instruments, noted Andrew Lawson (Community Foundation Development Officer of Philanthropy Australia):

Purpose served: Remarks from Informant

1. Competition (working definition: “as in a marketplace where several offers of services to donors compete with each other for donations.”)

All community foundations understand where they fit as a non-government organization (NGO) and what they can and cannot do.

2. Accountability, transparency, self-improvement

These are stressed and well understood. Self-improvement is covered through the listserve, forums, visitors from overseas, visits from local “experts”, and tele-meetings about every 3 months.

3. Distinguish characteristics of CF from other NGOs


4. Unify national community foundation field

Yes, through membership offered in Philanthropy Australia.

5. Roadmap for ethical, legal, effective practices

These practices are stressed at Forums and other venues and in the production of an Annual Report offering information on audited accounts. The environment is defined by the Tax office and steps are taken to ensure all practitioners are aware of the regulations and standards for compliance.

5Report by Andrew Lawson, Community Foundation Development Officer of Philanthropy Australia and Executive Officer of Geelong Community Foundation.