Foundation for Rural & Regional Renewal

Spirit of charity shines bright in a tough year to help rural communities adapt and evolve

A unique Australian charity significantly increased its year-on-year grantmaking, giving remote, rural and regional communities across the country a much-needed funding boost as they adapted to the impacts of natural disasters and COVID-19.

FRRR significantly increases funding in FY20-21 to help rural communities adapt and evolve

FRRR (the Foundation for Rural & Regional Renewal) supports small not-for-profit organisations across rural Australia through a mix of grant funding and capacity building activities. Their aim is to ensure local grassroots groups have the tools and support they need to implement projects that strengthen and sustain the vitality of their communities, and their organisations.

Last financial year, FRRR awarded nearly $20 million through 917 grants, an increase of around a third on the prior year. A significant portion ($4.1 million) went toward 203 recovery projects in communities impacted by the Black Summer bushfires, who were also grappling with economic and social fallout of COVID-19.

For the last 20 years, FRRR has created collaborative partnerships with Government, philanthropy, business and private funders to provide support to local organisations to fill the gaps, and address inequities in services in these areas and, critically, to strengthen community resilience.

Despite it being a tough year, everyday Australians and the philanthropic sector in particular continued to give, enabling FRRR to reach some of the smallest and most remote communities.

FRRR CEO Natalie Egleton said that while many grants to community groups are project-based, last year, in response to community needs, the organisation adapted its approach to also support more operational costs.

“The places we support are really small communities – sometimes just tens or hundreds of people – and so very few volunteers carry a lot of the load. Between the impacts of bushfires, drought, floods and COVID-19 restrictions, traditional fundraising was simply not possible. We were able to step in and support projects in more than 540 different postcodes across the country.

“With these communities being so resourceful, most projects don’t actually need all that much funding. In fact, our median grant was only around $13,000. While that figure has increased over time, we still award many grants that are just a few thousand dollars.

“It’s surprising just how big an impact can be created with relatively little, especially when people come together and given collaboratively, as they have this year,” Ms Egleton said.

“While it’s been a tough 12 months, thanks to the support of our corporate and philanthropic partners, and hundreds of individual donors, we are proud to have been able to sustain and indeed strengthen many rural communitites,” Ms Egleton concluded.

FRRR’s FY2020/21 Annual Review is available at www.frrr.org.au/AR21.