2017 – What’s next for our Community Foundation

2017 – What’s next for our Community Foundation

2016 AGM Ruth

After the AGM on Monday night (28th November), the Community Foundation’s new Executive Officer, Ruth Rogan, outlined some of the projects which the Community Foundation will be focusing on in 2017.  These projects arise from the feedback received in the survey of community and members conducted back in May and June, which gave the Community Foundation good food for thought on how it was doing and where changes could be made. 

There was recognition in the survey that a great job has been done not only securing and stewarding the Community Foundation’s investment, but also funnelling the earnings of that investment back into the community, through the well-established community and strategic grants rounds.  These activities are the bedrock of the Foundation, but with smooth established procedures in place, it is time to turn our attention to areas where changes can be made as highlighted in the community survey. 

After considering the detailed and thorough responses from our members and community, we saw the following key messages emerged about where we can improve:

          Increased visibility and communication;

          Clarify the role that the members and community can play;

          More information about philanthropy

          Leadership on community issues

Of these, the principal focus will be on increasing visibility and improving communication.  The reality is that without these, the Community Foundation will not reach its objectives of strengthening both the community and the investment in its future.    Increasing visibility will include more frequent communication to the members and community over a wider variety of media, including a monthly newsletter.   Whereas improving communication will focus on changing the content of the communication, in particular to keep the members and community up to date on the massive impact the Community Foundation has on our community.  Up to now, the Community Foundation has been so busy working on the nuts and bolts, that the impact stories haven’t been shared as much as they could have been.  Since 2010, we have provided over $600,000 in community grants, strategic grants and sponsorship to our local area.  That’s a whole lot of impact, and we are looking forward to telling the stories behind those figures.

Another project we are very keen to roll out is the recording of the history of resilience, bravery and determination in Mirboo North and District; that is, the story of the creation of a community Bush Hospital in the 1930s, its conversion into a Community Aged Care facility in the 1990s, its sale to a private provider and then the creation of the Community Foundation in 2009/10. This will be partially a written history project, but we also hope to record some footage and make this an audio visual telling of the story.  It is an amazing story where groups of individuals responded not only to the needs in the community, but to changes in the economic environment over time.  This was not always easy, but was done with a strength of will and perseverance that ensured positive outcomes for the community.  

The second area of focus will be on membership.  Not all community foundations have members, but again due to the interest and commitment in our community, there were many people interested not only in benefiting from our Community Foundation but also in sharing responsibility too.  In 2017 we will not only work on increasing our membership, but we will also work with our members to create ways in which the membership role can be more meaningful.  We are all passionate about the potential of MNDCF – let’s see what we can come up with together. 

A third message from the survey was the interest in learning more about philanthropy, including making bequests, creating funds in your own name, making donations for a specific purpose.  Community foundations provide a great vehicle to invest or give back to your local area.  In 2017 we anticipate bringing you information on these topics in a variety of ways.  If you have any suggestions on the ‘how’ of that, please let us know.

The final key message the Community Foundation took from the survey was your desire that we would take more of a leadership role in our community.  This is already something which our CF has engaged in, though perhaps under the radar (which brings back, of course, to communication).  Derrick Ehmke has been actively involved with some key projects in town, from saving the St. Andrew’s Childcare Centre, to working with MCDI and the MN Swimming Pool Re-development Committee.  Our commitment in 2017 is not only to keep you informed about these activities, but also continue to focus and develop this role.  We are cognisant though that our leadership role is as an enabler or facilitator and we will always work in conjunction with the community groups and service providers in our area to achieve this.

A recent example of our leadership role is our recent meeting with the new Latrobe Valley Authority (‘LVA’), the aim of which was to ensure awareness of the impact of the closure of Hazelwood in adjoining areas and Shires.   We are also in contact with larger philanthropic organisations in the region like FRRR and the Lord Mayor’s Charitable Foundation and the Australian Environmental Grantmakers Network to keep abreast of potential opportunities for philanthropic organisations to be part of the solution to this.  Whilst there are no easy solutions, we will be working with these partners and the community to see where best our Community Foundation can provide assistance.