Foundation for Rural & Regional Renewal (FRRR)

The partnership between the Foundation for Rural & Regional Renewal (FRRR) and the Helen Macpherson Smith Trust (HMST) highlights the value of grassroots-focused capacity building in community development.

We are pleased to bring you a Q&A featuring Debra Morgan, an accomplished leader with two decades of executive experience in the philanthropic and for-purpose sectors. Debra joined HMST in October 2021 and has been instrumental in shaping and delivering philanthropic programs that make a meaningful difference.

HMST made a substantial donation to FRRR’s Bushfire Recovery Fund, developed innovatively with further collaboration with the Sidney Myer Fund (SMF). This Fund was developed to meet a gap in the funds being made available to Victorian communities affected by the 2019/20 bushfires, which was building the capacity of organisations in those communities to address challenges in their operations, supporting their growth and development to enable their continued support of their communities’ recovery.

Breaking away from traditional grant structures, the program employed community consultation to identify backbone organisations for multi-year funding. Over three years, the Program Advisory Committee, featuring Debra Morgan, guided the program, and in November 2023 the grant program awarded the final multi-year grants to 9 organisations across North East Victoria and East Gippsland. The recipients represent a broad range of organisations from Indigenous-led initiatives to neighborhood centres. As these projects unfold over the next 24 months, FRRR and HMST’s collaboration serves as a powerful example in the philanthropic community.

Watch the video or read the Q&A text to hear Debra Morgan shed light on the intricacies of this impactful partnership.

HMSTrust

Tell us about Helen Macpherson Smith Trust and your giving strategy?

We have a strategy which is focused on community resilience and place-based education. We’ve moved from a really broad giving strategy; we were funding in a lot of different areas, and we felt that we really wanted to be able to understand our impact. So we’ve moved to two areas of impact: community and education. And we’re supporting FRRR through our community resilience lens.

What’s unique about the Bushfire Recovery Fund and what did Helen Macpherson Smith Trust set out to achieve with it?

When the bushfires hit in Victoria, trustees really wanted to help the communities and to make a difference. But we understood that an immediate grant may not be the best response, and that communities, while they were dealing with the immediate trauma of the fires might not be best placed to understand their future path. And so through FRRR and with the Sidney Myer Fund, we held hands, and we navigated to the Bushfire Recovery Fund, which is about enabling FRRR to work deeply with bushfire affected communities to understand their needs, and their readiness to receive funds to create a better future for those communities.

What does the Helen Macpherson Smith Trust and co-funder the Sidney Myer Fund see as the strengths of the partnership?

Some of the highlights of the Bushfire Recovery Fund and working so closely with FRRR and the Sidney Myer Fund on this project has been understanding community voices through FRRR and from the community directly.

FRRR plays an amazing role – really working deeply with communities to understand needs, and I credit them with the work that they do on the ground with communities to help them navigate – often complex – granting regimes that we impose as funders, and to understand how we can practically make a difference.

We’ve had the opportunity at Helen Macpherson Smith Trust to meet some of those fantastic community members along the way. We’ve traveled to Mallacoota and met the community health team there we traveled to Sarsfield out of Bairnsdale to see and meet with the community organisation there. And those people are changing their communities – they’re the coalface and they’re making lives better for their community members, and it’s so inspiring to see them. We couldn’t do that without the support of FRRR and without FRRR working on the ground. So we’re really grateful. That’s been absolutely a program highlight for me.

Can you tell me more about how about your partnership and working with the FRRR team?

We’re a really tiny team at Helen Macpherson Smith Trust and we’re based in Melbourne. So one of the great things about FRRR is that there’s people on the ground in rural and regional communities – not just around Victoria but around Australia, and we really see the benefit of that. We feel we can get scale across Victoria through partners like FRRR because of the really deep work that’s happening on the ground. I think that’s one of the rich and wonderful things about FRRR.

Are there any other philanthropic activities and partnerships that you can tell us about?

Through our education focus area we’re funding some really fantastic place-based organisations. We’re funding the Mornington Peninsula Foundation for the education work they’re doing. We’re funding Tomorrow Today Foundation, which is a community foundation in Benalla, again, we’re seeing education outcomes through that project. And we’re also supporting Ganbina in Shepparton – a place-based education project working with Indigenous partners in Shepparton and the region.

Do you have any advice for any philanthropic organisations or other individuals, when choosing who to partner with?

I think the most important thing, when looking at partners to support is the relationships. And we’ve really got a strong relationship with FRRR. We have a long standing relationship with FRRR, and we’re really seeing the benefits of that, and holding hands on the journey, and learning as we go. I see FRRR absolutely as a partner in this – not as a grantor -grantee relationship. We are partners, and I think we’ve really achieved a lot through this project.

For philanthropic foundation Hand Heart Pocket – The Charity of Freemasons Queensland – creating stronger futures for rural QLD communities through impactful partnerships is key.

With a strategic focus on driving climate solutions at a community level, Heart Hand Pocket has partnered with FRRR to deliver a program that focusses on building resilience and enables grassroots action on climate adaptation.

Sara Parrott, CEO of Hand Heart Pocket, explains why community is at the core of everything they do and how partnerships aligned with purpose create better outcomes and opportunities for everyone.

Hand Heart Pocket - The Charity of the Freemasons Queensland

Tell us a little bit about Hand Heart Pocket, its background and how you have designed your giving strategy.

Hand Heart Pocket is the charity of the Freemasons of Queensland. With a history of over 110 years of community work, it was first incorporated in the 1970s. Today, we operate as a philanthropic foundation. We manage an investment portfolio of financial assets that has been built up over the last 100 years by the Freemasons, and that’s money put aside for the benefit of the community. We manage that portfolio and do two things – we do philanthropy from the income and we also do social impact investing with our capital, as well as more traditional responsible investment to earn an income. We’re a relatively small team – there’s about eight of us.

Our purpose is stated as we partner for change for people in need in Queensland and Papua New Guinea. We put that purpose together with lots of thought around the fact that we partner, which means we don’t build things, and we don’t necessarily deliver ourselves, we find great organisations, and great leaders doing things that are very impactful, and we focus on people in need. Our strategic partnerships are focused on young people in need in Queensland, and then we do a range of other things where we support the community more generally, and we also support the members of the Freemasons of Queensland, in their community activity at a local level.

Why do you believe it is important to support remote rural and regional communities in particular?

The Freemasons and Hand Heart Pocket have always been involved in responses to disasters when disaster strikes, and also been a very regionally spread organisation. There are lodges of the Freemasons of Queensland right across the state – there’s about 200. They’re very connected to their local communities. Queensland is the most regionalised of the states – there’s more people living outside of the capital cities in Queensland than any other states. And we really understand the importance of the vibrancy and the sustainability of those communities, for the people who love to live in a more rural setting with more space. It’s really important that we remember that sometimes it’s more difficult to live there. It’s more expensive, the services don’t necessarily reach all the places in Queensland where people love to live. So it’s a combination of where our members are and the heritage of the organisation and also understanding that to sustain healthy and vibrant communities in Queensland. We have to remember that a huge portion of Queenslanders don’t live in the capital city.

Tell us about Hand Heart Pocket’s interest in supporting communities recovering from a preparing for disasters, and also in driving climate solutions?

The board is very forward looking and future focused. And so we understand that an investment in our young people is the best investment that we can make, and that the future that they’re facing is changing quickly. There’s lots of strategic level risks that the community is facing and it could really derail a lot of things about the way that we live our lives and a lot of things that we enjoy. We’ve done some really good risk analysis in our strategy process to understand what climate change will mean, for our organisation and for our members and the local communities. Really, climate change is probably the number one risk. So it, it poses risks to our members and to their communities but it also poses a risk to our organisation from the point of view of what it might do to the assets that we invest in through our investment portfolio and what it might do to in terms of shocks to financial markets, what it might mean for us to have investments that might become stranded assets. So that’s a big part of how we think about it.

And then also, what the possible negative impacts of climate change are on local communities – what it will do to food security, to people’s health, future pandemics, also what it’s going to mean for industries in Queensland. It will have negative impacts on tourism, it will have negative impacts on the Great Barrier Reef. And so there’s lots of communities in Queensland that are facing into very uncertain future.

As a philanthropic foundation, we don’t think about it just in terms of what we give, although it’s embedded into our strategy throughout our relationship with FRRR, but it’s also embedded into our strategy in terms of the way that we invest as well. And we have a responsible investment policy that has an exclusion for new fossil fuels and expansion of fossil fuels. We also have a real focus on investing our money in a way that drives a positive transition, and a sustainable future.

In our giving, we’ve had a historical ability to respond in times of disaster to support communities in Queensland when disaster does strike. We still do that, but we also have a way of giving through FRRR that allows us to invest into what I would call climate adaptation, which is preparation for possible natural disasters and natural hazards like cyclones and floods and fires at a grassroots level. The relationship with FRRR has allowed us to provide a large lump sum of money that FRRR administers and distributes as smaller grants to local grassroots community organisations who are working on all sorts of projects around resilience building in their local community.

We’ve also provided a second round of funding to FRRR to do an additional grant round of small grants that are focused not just on adapting to a potential different future threat from climate change, but also positive action by local communities, to reduce their carbon emissions, and actually mitigate the effects of climate change by changing up their activities in ways that are going to better protect the environment or reduce the carbon emissions. So our response to climate is I suppose weaved through lots of different in different ways through our strategy and the way that we work. And it’s about being future focused, it’s about being really understanding those big system level risks that our community faces. We try really hard to be kind of holistic and really authentic in the way that we address climate.

Tell us more about your partnership with FRRR.

Part of the reason that we’ve partnered with FRRR is because as a philanthropic foundation, we have a small team, and we’re not really geared up to deal with like lots of local communities and do multiple small grants to a large number of organisations across the community.

And so it’s a great partnership for us from that point of view, in that FRRR’s got the expertise, and the relationships across Queensland or across regional and rural communities. And they also have the infrastructure as an organisation to run those grant rounds, which we don’t have. We knew that if we were going to put philanthropic money towards resilience building, that sometimes those small investments, but across a number of different communities can be really, really impactful. We wanted to make sure that the money got down to the grassroots and out to the rural communities, and we didn’t have the capacity to do that. So we were looking for a partner who had the relationships and the internal mechanisms to be able to do it efficiently.

FRRR provides that for us and being able to have a focus on resilience building, and climate adaptation, was what we were looking for. FRRR had the ability and the understanding from a thematic and technical point of view about what those projects would look like in local communities. And then this year, when we came to FRRR saying, we’d like to shift from just disaster response to action on climate, FRRR was really open to that idea, and worked with us to develop the climate solutions grand rounds, so that that extra money could be focused on that as a very specific issue and a specific set of responses from local communities. Again, we didn’t have the infrastructure internally and the people to run those grant rounds and to be able to connect to local communities that we really love the fact that if FRRR already has all that. Our purpose is partnering for change, so we like to work with other organisations, and to be more efficient in the way that we give by joining together with other organisations who are already doing really good work.

Can you tell us a little bit about Hand Heart Pocket of philanthropic activities and partnerships?

There’s an interesting partnership that’s kind of complementary to the work that we do with FRRR. We also have a partnership with GIVIT. Being a Queensland organisation, we know that there’s going to be disasters during and things happening to communities during the summer, which is really unfortunate, but it happens almost every year.

So, in anticipation of that we have a placeholder in our budget for what we might be able to give to disaster. If disaster strikes, we already have a relationship set up with GIVIT where we can respond quite quickly, and we can give them funding and then they distribute that to people in need in local communities. And that’s actually through grassroots organisations. They’re a fantastic partner because they complement what we do with FRRR – so if we want to give immediate disaster relief to GIVIT, which is immediate and small amounts for things like emergency accommodation and replacement of furniture, and then, at the end of the year, if we have some budget put aside for FRRR for disaster response, which is the longer-term recovery, and the planning, and the climate adaptation work.

So those two are complementary – we see them as great partnerships for us to respond to local communities. Both organisations are really set up to support larger donors like us and distribute funds. FRRR’s expertise is in understanding local communities, and how to best inject that support that will really bolster the community’s own capability and GIVIT has a different set of skills, which is really around standing up things quickly in a disaster. So that’s an example of another partnership, but it’s kind of the way that we work – to find organisations that are doing really good work, that have great leaders that have really excellent strategies and are really good at executing. And then we partner with them and back them in their work.

Another thing that we do in our partnerships is we also really believe in that maxim about pay what it takes. With both FRRR and with GIVIT, when we work out a partnership there’s an amount that goes to the partner for their capacity. Every organisation needs governance, and you need to invest into your IT systems, and you need to invest into your people’s learning and development and all those things. And we actually believe that it’s really important when we work with partners that we have, that a good generous amount that actually goes to the organisation on expenses and work. We talk to our partners about that, and we like to understand how much is needed for those organisational costs. So that’s a key part of the way that we work as a partner.

Do have any advice for other philanthropic organisations or individuals, when choosing a not for profit to partner with?

Well, the first thing I’d say is that there’s lots of collaboration happening both with the community in the community sector between organisations that deliver services there, and amongst the funders and the organisations that give, and sometimes there’s organisations that straddle as well.

So, in the kind of area that FRRR focuses on, if you were starting out as a funder, in regional communities or in resilience building or in climate solutions or anything like that, I’d suggest there’s probably two places you could go. First one would be Philanthropy Australia. Philanthropy Australia has great networks of both organisations who deliver services and want to attract philanthropy and organisations who give and want to be part of philanthropic giving, and they have networks that they establish around different topic areas that people are interested in. So if you’re really interested in giving to Aboriginal Torres Strait Islander organisations or issues then you can you can join a network – like a learning circle around how to partner well. They have also lots of professional development opportunities and Philanthropy Australia also run a really interesting network that they call Second Gen, which is about younger people who are starting out in their giving journey, or the second generation of families who have a family history and a real tradition of giving and how to engage in in an interesting way for younger people.

Another really interesting collaborative network is called the Australian Environmental Grantmakers Network. And I know that there’s lots of people within AEGN who are long term staunch supporters of FRRR. And that’s a place where you can go to meet people who are specifically interested in environment and climate. They have a climate community of practice around giving in and responding to climate as a philanthropist or a funder, which is really quite new but really a great place to meet other people who are trying to respond to climate in both their giving and their investing.

Through FRRR you can get connected to other donors, and I think one of the things that FRRR does really well is they act as an intermediary and a channel combining funds from different organisations, so I’m sure FRRR could also be a place where you find collaborations to join.

Mission Australia has worked in partnership with Mid Coast 4 Kids to deliver ‘The Common Approach’ training to build capability for a whole of community response to child youth wellbeing in the Mid Coast region.

The Mid Coast was dramatically impacted by the South Eastern Australia floods in 2022. The townships of Taree, Wingham and Gloucester were inundated or compromised with flood waters and structural damage cutting communities off for long periods. There was flood damage to farm lands, residential housing areas and outlying communities. This disaster compounded significant stress that has been experienced in the communities for an extended period due to the impact of prolonged drought, COVID-19 and bushfires.

As a result, early childhood centres and schools reported increased anxiety and trauma-related behaviours in children and young people, and the service system was not coping, with allied health and other support services reporting wait times of more than 12 months.

‘The Common Approach’ has equipped a range of members of the Mid Coast community with the skills to have quality conversations and build resilience to respond to the wellbeing needs of children, young people and their families, now and into the future. In total, 228 people including community service, health and education professionals, community volunteers and parents were trained to have evidence based, holistic conversations with children and young people about all aspects of their wellbeing.

Participants report increased confidence in being able to support children and young people to identify strategies to improve individual wellbeing. “Through this intervention we have equipped our community to share responsibility for promoting and supporting the health and wellbeing of children and young people in our community, via evidence informed practice,” says Program Manager Bree Katsamangos.

“Additionally, practitioners will benefit from the opportunity to engage in a bi-monthly Community of Practice to support ongoing development and practice.”

Jason Carroll standing next to three batteries installed at Mooloolah Valley Community Association Inc

The Mooloolah Community Centre is the home and work hub of Mooloolah Valley Community Association Inc, located on the Sunshine Coast in Queensland. The Centre is run by a Management Committee of 10 volunteers from wide and varied backgrounds including finance, defence, nursing, social work, local government and administration, and there are a team of volunteers who support the Centre by doing tasks from garden maintenance to assisting in the Op Shop. Everyone at the Centre works for the benefit of the Mooloolah community, and the positive flow-on effects are felt throughout the Mooloolah Valley postcode area.

In February 2022, the flooding closed all roads into the town, cutting it off for four days and causing a loss of power across the area. The lack of a reliable power source during this disaster revealed critical vulnerabilities in the community for being able to charge phones and stay in touch with loved ones. Additionally there was no hot water and the Community Centre couldn’t open.

After receiving $25,000 in Round 2 of the Rebuilding Futures program, funded by the Suncorp Group, the Community Centre has now securely installed a solar battery pack ready for any future disasters or power outages. The installation of the solar batteries has completed a significant preparedness project by this group, who over the last year, have added emergency lighting, directional emergency lighting and evacuation alarms so the community can be prepared and therefore more resilient in times of extreme weather events.

The Community Centre says it is ready to support the needs of the community in times of distress, including having the Op Shop open to allow people to obtain emergency clothes if required, and enabling the Welfare Officer to operate and offer vouchers for food and fuel. The website has been updated with a new ‘Community Resilience Service’ that promotes an offering of a place of refuge during disaster, including the basics like a hot drink, charging phones, using the internet and much more.

Jason Carroll standing next to three batteries installed at Mooloolah Valley Community Association Inc

Mooloolah Valley Community Association Inc’s Events & Grants Officer, Jason Carroll

GlobalGiving first partnered with FRRR in response to the Black Summer bushfires in 2019/20.

The organisation, now 21 years old, was founded “on the idea that good ideas can come from anyone anywhere at anytime” and tapped into the explosion of the internet and internet based tools in the early 2000s. Last year, they were the conduit for $150 million in support, across 170 countries, via several thousands of organisations.”

Jillian Kirwan-Lee, FRRR Partnerships Specialist, recently chatted with Chase Williams, Senior Project Manager from GlobalGiving’s disaster response team, about the incredible work they are doing across the globe.

GlobalGiving

Can you start by telling us a little about GlobalGiving?

As we look back on 2022, GlobalGiving sent out about $150 million worth in support of partners across the world – 170 countries overall. On a regular basis, we are connecting resources, both financial and otherwise, to several thousands of vetted organisations around the world and being a reliable place where individual donors and companies can come to ensure that their money and other types of resources are getting into the hands of local vetted organisations around the world.

Our mission is to transform aid and philanthropy to accelerate community-led change. So in that way, there is a lot of overlap between what GlobalGiving and FRRR want to see in the world, which is local community led organisations in the driver’s seat, where we are in the backseat, the passenger seat, whatever seat they want, as long as we are being a supportive, trusted partner such that they retain decision making power and flexibility to solve the issues in their community and serve the constituents and the communities where they work and where they serve. Because they are the ones closest to the issues at hand.

A big area of overlap between GlobalGiving and FRRR is around disaster response and disaster preparedness and just investing in local organisations so that they’re resilient in the face of future disasters. That’s also what brought us together as partners.

Our primary constituency is our non-profit partner network, of which we have about 6,000 or 7,000 vetted non-profits, and 170 countries that we work with on a regular basis in many different shapes and forms. And we also work closely, of course, with individual donors that come to us as a marketplace and companies that come to us for very much the same reasons to be connected with and to be able to get resources flexibly to these local organisations. So GlobalGiving sits in between all three of those groups. In and after times of disaster we’re able to activate all three of those groups to be able to quickly and over the long term get flexible funding into the hands of local organisations on the front lines of disaster response, both relief, recovery, preparedness, resilience, and all the rest.

That was very much the case after the 2019-2020 bushfires across Australia and so many different regions and parts of the country. And I think just to be candid and recognise at the time GlobalGiving’s non-profit partner network in Australia was not the strongest that it could have been in so many ways. So, while we made the decision to activate a response to the bush fires, it was also the case that we had a lot of work to do to build up a trusted network of organisations across Australia responding to the bushfires. GlobalGiving raised something like USD$6 million related to the bushfires through a variety of different channels. It gave us a lot of flexibility to identify and welcome new organisations, and new non-profit organisations based in Australia serving fire affected communities directly.

We were getting a lot of signals that FRRR was a trusted, reliable organisation very much in alignment with the value set of GlobalGiving, in the way that we think about responding to disasters in terms of resourcing local organisations that otherwise had been overlooked and excluded from some broader flows. Recognising there’s often the same core set of larger national organisations that really bring in the vast majority of funding and then it’s smaller local organisations that get the short shrift that at the end of the day. We heard a lot of good things from a variety of folks about how FRRR was responding in and after times of the fires, and so that brought us together. And I think more tactically, it led to a multi-year grant partnership that was bolstering and investing in the flexibility and support that FRRR was already driving out to its networks.

What is it that you look for in a not for profit that you that you partner with?

Over the lifetime of GlobalGiving, we have had an open application process for organisations that are interested in joining our community, especially on the crowdfunding side of things. So if you go to the globalgiving.org website, if you didn’t know anything about GlobalGiving, you’d be like, this is a crowdfunding platform. But there’s so much more behind the scenes happening. We’re also working on telling that story, in terms of the corporate partnerships that we have and the grant making that we do through those partnerships, the advisory and influencing work that we do in this space, all the disaster response stuff.

One of our core values is Always Open. And that can be interpreted in a lot of different ways. But we’ve always been open to welcoming organisations into our community that find use and find value in GlobalGiving’s tools, resources, and platform. Any registered organisation around the world can submit a due diligence application to GlobalGiving to take part in our crowdfunding and training program to learn how to crowdfund, how to make use of GlobalGiving’s universe of tools and resources, to raise resources through their own crowdfunding projects posted on our platform.

Sometimes over the years, we’ve promoted the GlobalGiving onboarding program in different places to try and bolster our network in certain places. And it’s also the case that many of them applied, but maybe didn’t have the registration that they needed or other things like that. So, we have a team that would try to help organisations as much as possible get through our vetting process so they can take part in our platform.

The second way that organisations come to GlobalGiving is through the corporate partnerships that we maintain and manage. GlobalGiving is also a grant making intermediary in a lot of ways, and we partner with large multinational companies, many of them based in the US, and we help to manage and coordinate the charitable grant making that these companies are interested in doing. As an example, we’ve worked with Ford Motor Company, for the last 12 or 15 years, and we are their partner to do all their grant making outside of the United States. That’s about $15 million a year in grant making that GlobalGiving does in partnership with Ford. It’s often the case where they have regional employees make recommendations for organisations in their communities that they’re passionate about, and the CSR office of Ford make recommendations to GlobalGiving, and they have the option of taking part in our platform in crowdfunding should they so wish, as a tool in their toolbox. Some of them do, some of them don’t. And then the last big avenue by which organisations come to GlobalGiving is through direct acquisition through our disaster response team. That is very much how we came to be in partnership with FRRR.

Back to your question, what we look for are organisations that are either led by or serving communities that have traditionally been excluded or marginalised or overlooked for funding or support. And at the same time, we’re also listening to our local partners and trying to understand what the funding gaps are and listening to and being receptive of trusted organisation recommendations that fit in those spaces. And that informs the organisations that we bring in, which I think in a way, is connected to how we have this focus on community-led organisations, even though it can be quite tricky to define what community led is. Because we’re working across so many different contexts across the world, and so maybe what’s community-led in one place isn’t what it means to be community-led in another.

We also have this recognition that it doesn’t make sense to connect with and welcome every single local organisation in the world into our community. So where does it make sense for GlobalGiving to form strategic partnerships with ecosystem local organisations who have a similar mindset and values orientation to GlobalGiving, and who already have trusted long term relationships with local organisations? It doesn’t make sense for us to go into a context and recreate the wheel.

What do you see as the value of partnering with community-led organisations?

I think the GlobalGiving team has been pretty heartened by the trend in the last few years where, in philanthropy in general, there is this broader recognition that local organisations and localisation writ large is the direction that we should all be heading in as quickly as possible, at the same time recognizing not much progress has been made.

I think there’s a lot of hope in and after the pandemic about what that meant for this growing wave and focus on localisation to try to move away from just funding the same organisations over and over again. Not to say that the larger international agencies are not doing great work, but it’s just that we are continuing to exclude those closest to the issues and those are the people that are going to be there for the long term.

So, I think what we’ve seen on the GlobalGiving side is a big appetite from our corporate partners to direct resources to local organisations. In large part, that’s why a lot of companies seek GlobalGiving out because we do provide that bridge and that connection to local organisations and countries. But what I would say is that it’s not always the case that they’re universally eager to support local organisations. Sometimes there is, of course, this natural inclination to just go with what you know.

GlobalGiving has what we call our growth team, or business partnerships team. Half of that team is focused on prospecting and engaging with new organisations, new companies and new corporate partners outside of our network. And then we have another half of the team that’s focused on maintaining and building relationships with existing corporate partners. I think we have about 200, or 300, different corporate partners that engage with us in different shapes and forms. What we see that works best, especially in the disaster side of things, is being able to affirm and demonstrate to our corporate donors that these local organisations are the ones that are often first on the scene, and they’re the ones that understand that context the best. And so, by virtue of GlobalGiving already having existing relationships with these organisations, we’re able to demonstrate that we’re able to get resources to them quickly and over the long term.

As an example, in the case of the February earthquakes in Türkiye and Syria, we have several dozen local organisations working in and across Türkiye. And the earthquakes happened on a Monday, and we were able to award our first round of grants that same Friday. So, we’re able to move quickly and get good resources to those Turkish registered and Turkish banked organisations who are already on the front lines of response. Many of them tragically lost staff members in the earthquakes. So, they were not only grappling with that, but also just already in the action, responding in so many ways. And so, I think that elevating those moments, and elevating the importance of how they’re well positioned helps to appeal to companies that are, oftentimes wanting to notify their employees of how quickly they’ve activated a response and different things like that.

Another strategy that we take is just like elevating the voices and stories of our local partners, which can often be much more engaging and compelling. For example, after the underwater volcano and tsunami in Tonga at the beginning of last year, the year before, one of our partners was the Civil Society Forum of Tonga. And, of course, in the middle of the pandemic, Tonga was in lockdown and not accepting or receiving international volunteers or visitors. So, we were able to elevate the perspective and voice of our local partner on working across many of the islands of Tonga that our other NGO partners did not have, because they were prevented from going.

And it is part of our mission to transform philanthropy. How can we build deeper relationships and have dedicated conversations to keep pushing that focus forward? We’re happy to see that corporate partners are receptive, but they’re not always. But we keep trying anyway.

What you’re saying about having those trusted relationships on the ground is so important. Huge kudos to you and the GlobalGiving team for all that you do, with an incredible breadth of organisations that you support.