Community stories: 29 July 2021
In June 2021, FRRR staff had the privilege of listening to a presentation by Glenys Atkins, Executive Officer of Border Trust. The story below captures some key highlights of that presentation.
Border Trust is the community foundation for the Albury Wodonga Region, which encompasses six local government areas around the NSW / VIC border, many of which were badly affected by the 2019/20 Black Summer bushfires.
It was established in 2015, and with less than one full-time equivalent staff, has now distributed just shy of $2 million.
Located in Albury, their office accommodation is supported by Hume Bank. A recent move means that the Foundation now has street access, which greatly increases the potential for community engagement.
Border Trust first partnered with FRRR in late 2015 to establish a Community Foundation Account, which enables them to leverage FRRR’s Deductible Gift Recipient status to receive funds from other philanthropic organisations, such as The Geoff and Helen Handbury Foundation, as well as make grants to non-DGR organisations in their region.
Funds raised through FRRR contribute to Border Trust’s annual granting round to community organisations, which is enormously beneficial for the region, as well as Border Trust. At present, many grants are supporting bushfire recovery in the region, and groups supported include Thowgla Hall, Acres & Acres, Man from Snowy River Tourist Association, and FoodShare.
One of Border Trust’s early projects related to the Headlie Taylor Header Museum in Henty – a tribute to a real pioneer in agriculture. Through the Community Foundation Account with FRRR they raised funds for a statue of Headlie Taylor, which was opened by his nephew Bruce Taylor. More than $80,000 was raised towards this project, thanks to the generous support of the community, with nearly half coming through the account with FRRR.
In early 2020, Border Trust established a Bushfire Relief Fund following the Black Summer bushfires, in response to locals wanting to give locally, and be sure of where their funds were going to be used. So far, they have raised $212,000 and distributed around $160,000 toward local bushfire recovery projects. Their Account with FRRR has helped them to make grants to many local non-DGR organisations.
Glenys said that a sub-committee was established that included representatives from affected communities, and they learnt a lot from the committee, especially around the type of projects that would be of most benefit to the communities. A recent visit to Corryong highlighted the impact of the grants, and helped them see what the community is really trying to achieve in its recovery. A common theme coming through from many communities references mental health as an ongoing concern, as are upgrades to community halls, which are the lifeblood of the communities.
In addition to the Bushfire Relief Fund, Border Trust also launched Give500 in March 2020, and the first full donor gathering was scheduled for June, hosted by one of the donors. City2City – a walk or run between Albury and Wodonga, was another fundraising initiative aimed at supporting Albury Wodonga Health, and to say thank you to front line health workers – a total of $16,000 was raised.
Glenys said that the major challenges they face as a Community Foundation relate largely to organisational and operational capacity – they just don’t have the resources to take up every opportunity. There is some funding in the pipeline that will enable them to scale up their resources, but it’s taken a long time to get there, and is resource intensive to make it all happen. But Glenys said that by far, the greatest benefit to being a Community Foundation is that they’re local, and people can come and talk to them and actually see where their gift goes.
You can also read a summary of Natalie Egleton’s comments during a panel session at Philanthropy Australia’s online National Conference 2021.