Community Foundations: Into Our Hands

A Community Foundation is an independent philanthropic organisation working in a specific geographic area which, over time, builds up a collection of endowed funds from many donors in the community.

They seek to build a permanent resource for the community, and to implement local solutions to local issues and needs. They do this by facilitating partnerships between groups, making grants to charitable projects and involving local people.

FRRR works with a number of Community Foundations, funding initial feasibility studies, providing support to build sustainability, providing travel and registration subsidies for the annual Community Foundations Forum, and hosting donation accounts where needed.

Read the story below to learn about the creation of one of the newest additions to the list of Community Foundations across Australia - Into Our Hands Foundation.

Taking matters into their own hands

Alpine, Indigo and Wangaratta regions, Vic

Following the 2009 Victorian bushfires, the Victorian Bushfire Appeal Fund (VBAF) met with representatives from Mudgegonga, as well as six other fire-affected communities, and urged them all to ‘think big’ as to how they could utilise the generous donations the wider community had contributed to help affected individuals and communities recover.

After many late-night meetings across the region, they decided to start a Community Foundation. Called ‘Into Our Hands', it brings together fire-affected communities from the Alpine, Indigo and Wangaratta regions.

FRRR provided financial support in the early stages through the STEPS program. This funding went towards training programs for community members across these regions (covering leadership, problem-solving, strategic planning, and grant-writing) and a feasibility study, to examine:

  • Options for the structure, governance and administration of such an organisation;
  • The geographic area the foundation would cover;
  • Possible goals and objectives including the role it could have in the continuing community recovery from the 2009 bushfires;
  • Potential sources of revenue; and
  • High priority community needs for medium and long term.

The study was intended to act as a working document in the development of an appropriate model and way forward for the communities. Eventually a proposal was put to VBAF to create a Community Foundation fund.

Other projects that were scoped via the community consultations were the establishment of community water hubs to reduce travel involved with re-filling trucks during fire events; planting trees to help resist future fires; and a ‘cultural trail’ of iconic trees to beautify the area.

Into Our Hands was launched in March 2013. The film below tells the story of its creation in the words of those involved.