Chairmans Report 11/12
On behalf of the Board of Directors, it gives me great pleasure to present the twelfth Annual Report of the Geelong Community Foundation (GCF). Our Board has worked through a year where there has been legislative change to the way Public Ancillary Funds operate, investment markets in Australia have marked time, funding for grants has grown and new Named Funds have been established.
At our June Grant Reception, funding for grants of $550,000 was announced, a 10% increase on last year’s distribution. These grants will assist 39 agencies with their work and details of these grants are covered in our Executive Officer’s report.
We have reached another milestone in our development this year with the Foundation having now distributed a total of $3,000,000 in grant funds since launch in late 2000.
The annual accounts show that the Foundation Gift Fund was valued at $7.85 million and the Open Fund $4.27 million, for a total of $12.12 million at 30 June 2012. With capital market volatility, this is down from $12.41 million at the end of last financial year. Our Investment committee has limited the decline from equities while ensuring that we generated good income returns to ensure growing grant funding.
Early in the 2012 school year, we awarded our first Bursary to a student in need of assistance at Oberon High School. This Bursary is funded by the Scholarship Fund that has been formed in memory of Ron Thompson who was a teacher for many years at Oberon High School. The Bursary was awarded to a very worthy year 10 student.
In July 2011 and mindful of our very lean administration budget we decided to employ a part time Development Manager. After much consideration, we employed Leigh Wallace who has had a very successful 10 year role with The Lord Mayor’s Charitable Foundation in Melbourne. Leigh has proven to be a great contributor to the work of building the Foundation.
The Australian Tax Office has issued revised guidelines for Public Ancillary Funds. Our Gift Fund is this type of fund. Many of the new guidelines are already covered in our Trust Deed. The main change relates to the calculation of “earned income” to be distributed as grants each year. Up until this financial year, the distribution amount for grants has been calculated as 80% of “earned income.” This has now changed to be calculated as 4% of the fund’s capital value at the end of the previous financial year.
The Federal Government has also introduced a new Registrar and Regulator of Charities and NFPs. It is called the Australian Charities & Not for Profits Commission (ACNC) and it began operation on 1 July 2012. The GCF is required to submit a report in February 2013 on operations and grants made in the 2011/12 financial year.
This year we participated again in FRRR’S “Sidney Myer Back to School Program.” We distributed $70,000 in value of $50 Target vouchers to 40 primary and secondary schools in the Geelong region. Through these vouchers we assisted some 1700 individuals from 1169 families who were able to purchase items such as shoes, clothing and stationery at Target for the start of the 2012 school year. We thank the Glover Foundation for their support of this program also.
Substantial donations have been added to the Antony, Coppe, David, Dimmick, Fagg, Hayden, Kavanagh, Lawrence, Torney, Synot, WAM, Webb and WHK Funds as well as the Tucker Funeral Services – Les Cole Fund and Adroit Insurance Group’s fund. We again thank all these funds for this wonderful ongoing support.
The twelve new named funds started are the MJ and HJ Fraser and JW Brownbill Fund, Darryn Lyons Fund, George Fund, Apco Fund, Whyte Just & Moore Fund, Anonymous #5 and 6 Funds, Lake Imaging Fund, Edwards Family Fund, Dowling Family Fund, Bain Family Fund and an Adroit Golf Day Fund.
We thank our new donors and it is they along with the ongoing support from existing named funds donors that enables us to generate the long term growth which creates success for our Foundation’s community work.
We now have 64 named funds that are growing their philanthropic support in our region. We welcome the decision that these individuals, families and organisations have made to join in with the work of the GCF.
A list of all Foundation donors during the year appears later in this report. We thank all our donors for their generosity and support of the Foundation.
The ultimate aim of the GCF is to earn income on the assets in the Gift and Open Funds so that income is available for the Foundation’s main activity of making grants. Details of the $550,000 in new grants announced this year are given in the Executive Officer’s report.
We continue to liaise with and work through many agencies and organisations in our region to maintain an up to date understanding of current and developing needs in our community. We are also in contact with a number of Foundations based in Melbourne and Sydney and where required we will co-fund on projects in our region.
At Board level the Foundation has the direction and support of a dedicated, experienced and prudent group of people. The board meets 11 times each year and from time to time, one of these meetings is held at one of the agencies where we have made a grant.
This helps all board members to develop a deeper understanding of some of the agencies that the GCF supports. We farewelled our Founding Chairman, Dr Geoff Neilson AM along with board members John Bannister and Tim Santalucia in the year under review.
In 1997, Geoff Neilson, at the request of the then Chairman of United Way, Peter Morgan and CEO Gail Rogers, agreed to Chair a steering group of around 15 Geelong and district citizens to consider the idea of whether a Community Foundation would be likely to succeed in our region. Following investigation and advice, the then Mayor Ken Jarvis convened a meeting at City Hall where it was unanimously agreed to proceed with formation of an initial Board of Directors and development of the Geelong Community Foundation.
Geoff was elected as the first Board Chairman on December 15, 1999 and continued as chairman until 2005. It was his knowledge, leadership and drive that ensured all required technical matters were attended to, enabling the Foundation to be launched at a public reception in December 2000.
Our board and the broad community of Geelong and District owe Geoff Neilson a great vote of thanks for his dedication in ensuring the GCF was established along with his ongoing leadership to ensure the Foundation was launched with a strong start. Geoff retired from the board in March 2012.
John Bannister, while a Partner at Price Higgins, was the first pro bono lawyer for the GCF. He developed the GCF’s Company Constitution and worked with Freehills on development of the Trust Deeds. In 2004 he joined the board and was Deputy Chairman from 2005 to 2008. John gave great service to the board as legal counsel as well as being the Convenor of the Grants Committee.
Following the merger of Price Higgins with legal firm Harwood Andrews, John continued on as our pro bono lawyer. In 2012 he eased back to part time employment at Harwood Andrews and decided to retire from the board in November 2011. He remains as a co-opted member of the Grants Committee to help review to selected grants that the GCF has made.
Tim Santalucia joined the board in 2007 and due to business and family needs, retired in November 2011. He brought a great knowledge of Geelong and District to his work on the board and was a very active member of the Donors and Grants Committees. He remains as a co-opted member of the Donors committee and active contributor to the GCF.
On the board’s behalf I express our thanks to Geoff, John and Tim for their wonderful contributions to the work and success of the GCF. The board welcomed John Miles to the board in October 2011 and Dan Simmonds in March 2012. After working for thirty one years at Marcus Oldham College John retired in 2011. Dan Simmonds is the Managing Principal of Harwood Andrews Lawyers. Harwood Andrews is the Foundation’s pro bono lawyer.
The CV of both these new board members is covered on pages 20-21. I thank all our board members for their work and support during the year. In particular, Deputy Chair Peter Hudson and the directors who convene our committees, Diane Ritchie (Grants Committee), Brian Quarrell (Investment), John Miles (Audit & Finance), Peter Hudson (Donors) and Barry Fagg (Marketing).
On behalf of all Board members I thank Andrew Lawson for his continuing leadership and professional administration of the GCF. He has an extensive knowledge of our community and very good networks, both in Geelong, other parts of Australia and internationally. This serves us well.
This year we have seen an impact on our asset values as the Australian share market has responded to weakness in Europe and North America. Our Investment Committee has reduced our holdings of shares from around 63% at the end of last financial year to around 46% today. Our investment plan has always recognised that there will be down years in investment markets and that we also need to generate income that can be distributed in the form of grants.
While asset values have declined somewhat this year, investment income distributed was at an all time high. Across Australia, Community Foundations continue to grow and develop as a basic grass roots and local form of philanthropy. There are four new Community Foundations currently being planned in Victoria. Each will be able to engage and involve people and organisations in their local communities.
We continue to push towards achieving our Strategic Planning objective to have a capital fund of $15 million by the end of financial year 2012/13. This will ensure we have continued growth in our grant making capacity. We are very pleased that we were able to secure the services of Leigh Wallace as our Development Manager and his excellent work to date is contributing to our progress in achieving our key Strategic Objective in the area of growth.
If you are a reader of this report who can continue to build your support of the Foundation then we welcome this. If you are not already supporting the Foundation but would consider doing so, then please contact me, the Development Manager or any of the Directors to discuss how you can support the Foundation’s work.
Val Lawrence OAM