Donor Spotlight: Bertalli Family Foundation

Insights: 11 March 2022

Husband and wife, Neville and Di Bertalli are committed to charitable giving that makes a real tangible difference to some of society’s most concerning issues.

The couple started personally gifting in 1982, when they were in their late 30’s. After three decades, they established the Bertalli Family Foundation in 2010, to both increase the volume of gifting and to do it on a regular, annual basis. In 2011, the Bertallis started channeling their giving through FRRR.

We spoke to Neville recently, to find out more about the Bertalli Family Foundation’s relationship with FRRR and the causes close to his and Di’s hearts.

“We’ve been at it for quite a bit of time,” Neville said. “When I was doing my investigation, reading about FRRR – it was a very well read and reputable Board of Directors that were running the place. What we thought was so good about it was that they do lots of small, small grants to non-DGR status charities. This suited our Foundation enormously.”

Neville, a Melbourne University Commerce graduate, started a small transport business in 1972, after having worked for three public companies over 10 years. The Bertalli’s business interests grew, and they wanted to give back to areas they felt were important to invest in. One of these is Australia’s regional and rural communities. As so often happens, Neville’s country upbringing stayed with him. He came from Benalla in Victoria’s north-east, where his parents operated the local bakery, and four generations on, it’s still in the family.

“In my first 16 years of life, I lived in five country towns with my parents and the bakeries. And so I’ve got a very strong attachment to giving support to rural areas.”

Neville and Di value the reach they are able to achieve through being FRRR donors. Through FRRR, they make a number of grants to “worthwhile causes that we would never ever come across”.

“FRRR is a wonderful umbrella organisation that covers lots and lots of small charities that have a good impact in the country areas,” Neville explained.

The couple also continue to do a lot of their own research into appropriate charities to support, and look after around ten grants a year personally.

“My wife and I are quite skilled at finding eligible charities that fit into our Foundation’s aims. Our Foundation has a mission statement which defines the areas of support that we work in. And we pick each of these areas, and then we go looking for relevant charities. There is education, and then there’s hospitals, and medical science, and some Indigenous scholarships. We’re driven by our mission statement.”

One of the activities that the Bertalli Family Foundation is currently involved with is the No Limits Program. Delivered through the Mornington Peninsula Foundation, it’s a linguistic and reading skills program for primary and secondary education in the region.

Neville is excited by what the program is achieving, and believes that the work is incredibly important. He says that the teaching methods used in the last 30 years have not always resulted in great outcomes for students in the areas of reading and speaking. No Limits supports seven primary schools to employ speech pathologists and teacher’s aides to implement lessons that build confident communication through phonics methods. They have been tracking 300 primary school students for three years and are seeing some amazing outcomes.

Neville says that childhood literacy and speaking skills are one of the quite specific areas that the Bertalli Family Foundation seeks to support, and they have committed to funding it for another three years.

Meanwhile, the Bertalli’s continue to put their trust in FRRR’s work, each year giving a sum to the Strengthening Rural Communities small grants program, and another sum to the Back To School program. “They’ve done a pretty good job for 12 years!” He explains.

In the past they have also directed support through FRRR to the Tomorrow Today Foundation via the Benalla & District Community Fund and to the Charlton Community Theatre. Recently, they are ensuring their reach makes it south, too, with a special allocation of funding specifically to projects in Tasmania.

We asked Neville if he had any advice for others in the realm of philanthropy; the businessman was very diplomatic in his response:

“Neither my wife nor I are up to advising others what to do. Really, we would just encourage them to support FRRR, because it’s got a wonderful, Australia wide and rural network of great charities. But I’d be encouraging other people rather than advising!”

FRRR is very proud to work with passionate, intelligent people such as Neville and Di, and look forward to many more years of helping them to direct their support into worthwhile and hard to reach places in remote, rural and regional Australia.

“What we thought was so good about it was that they do lots of small, small grants to non-DGR status charities. This suited our Foundation enormously.”