TCF CHAIRMAN'S REPORT 2009
In July 2006 Mr Mark Temple Smith, then long-standing Director and Company Secretary, prepared a board challenge paper titled "Report on the future of the Tasmanian Community Foundation". This was the culmination of more than a year's cautious, prudent, diligent work by a small number of directors who remained active, engaged and committed to the notion that Australia's first Community Foundation should not be allowed to disappear without trace. Nevertheless, that group of directors recognised that this mission was not served merely as prudent custodian of the funds; it needed to generate new donor accounts and to actively make grants using not the corpus, but, the interest and dividends arising from their investment. As recent history had demonstrated, that could not be achieved by well-intentioned directors doing it 'off the side of their desks'. A more bold strategic and focussed approach was required, and the funds to make it possible.
During that period, much was done to bring processes and operations into line with established philanthropic and business practice. That was a good and necessary thing, but the process overtook the core business of philanthropy: giving money away for defined purposes and according to defined principles, for the love of people and society. That was largely a period of stewardship, of house-keeping and securing a future fir the very existence of the Tasmanian Community Foundation in the face of a number of indications that the Foundation should cease to exist, especially because, fueled by tax incentives for donor organisations, foundations had begun to appear at every corporate corner. Hard on the heels of such considerations came the global financial crisis and its impact on investment returns and the threat of diminished donor confidence and capacity. However, on the national philanthropic landscape there is evidence that some donors have been more generous in the face of challenges facing those they seek to assist through their philanthropy. The generosity of donors to the philanthropic cause is extraordinary and moving. I take this opportunity, on behalf of the Board, to acknowledge and thank our existing donors, and in the new and exciting philanthropic climate in Tasmania, invite new prospective donors to contact the Executive Director, or any of the Directors, in relation to their wishes.
Since the Foundations inception, and as a condition of holding such funds under taxation law requirements, the corpus grew slowly, even in the face of diminishing financial returns for invested capital. Though we continue to be supported by the generosity of donors identified in this Annual Report, it was not a climate in which new donor funds were forthcoming. Further, the structure of the Foundation and its Board made no provision for dedicated donor services; that is identifying and assisting potential donors in achieving their philanthropic goals, This where Scott Marshall, Founder of the Tasmanian Community Foundation, came again to the fore, having taken a well-earned sabbatical period from his long, dedicated and productive work for Tasmanian philanthropy.
Encouraged by Madeline Ogilvie's appointment to the Board as former 'Philanthropy Tasmania's' driving force and Scottie's re-engagement, the Board has undertaken, over the last 12 months, a concerted period of "board renewal". This process has focussed on four things:
- Moving the focus of the Foundation activities to Hobart. Since its establishment, that administrative hub has moved from Hobart to Launceston to Devonport, and now back to Hobart. This has assisted the Foundation to remain true to its original mandate of servicing the whole of Tasmania. In this the TCF differs from others in Australia which serves specific towns, cities, regions or even purposes.
- Identifying a suitable organisation from which administrative services could be contracted, including the cohesive housing of Foundation activities previously too widely spread among committed individuals and businesses The contractual arrangement with Colony 47 to provide these services is still new, but indications are that it will be very effective in assisting the Foundation to operate effectively and proactively from a single administrative hub. On behalf of the Board I acknowledge the vital contribution of Colony 47 and particularly recognise the extraordinry talent and capacity if our principal contact person, Heather McCallum.
- Identifying new talent and commitment for the Board membership to help create a new, invigorated, broader focus and set of priorities. To that end, I am delighted to welcome the following new Directors to the Board of the Tasmanian Community Foundation: Aileen Ashford, Alison Jacob, Nick Connor, Ana-Maria Esteves, Lyn Cox, Lisa Nelson, Karen Fraser and Jo Richardson.
- Confirming the Tasmanian Community Foundation's long-implicit special commitment to young people. Accordingly, we have confirmed a Youth in Philanthropy (YIP) focus and welcomed a number of talented, enthusiastic and energetic younger people as a sub-committee to the Board to advise on, and take a range of responsibilities for, youth-based philanthropy. The Board takes seriously its responsibility for succession planning through creation of opportunities for younger people to engage in, and contribute their talents and ideas to, the business of philanthropy. Jo Richardson has been nominate by the committee as its Board representative. As YIP members we welcome Liam Correy, Katrina Malisauskas, Jessica Jacobson, Sam NicNicholson, Alphonse Toussaint, Cameron Bean, Jessica Headlam and as YIP mentors Ruth Sinclair and Bonnie Butler.
The TCF has been long encouraged, advised and assisted in various ways y Philanthropy Australia, The Myer Foundation/Sidney Myer Fund, Foundation for Rural and Regional Renewal and partners in philanthropy. Catherine Brown has assisted in various strategic planning activities, and Alice Macdougall of Freehills, Melbourne has been an enormous support in legal matters. We are grateful to all those organisations and to all those individuals.
I have given the Board notice of my intention to retire as Chairman with effect from this AGM. Te Board has not yet identified a new Hobart-centred chair so I am grateful to Clyde Eastaugh who has agreed to serve in that capacity until a successor is appointed. I thank all Directors for the commitment and passion they bring to the philanthropic cause. I acknowledge the guidance and sustained contribution of ongoing Directors Clyde Eastaugh and Gillian Groom. Kevin Preece retired as Treasurer and Mick Clark from the Board during the year, We thank Kevin and Mick for their long association with the TCF.
Finally, philanthropy is driven by commitment and passion - some might call it a fire in the belly - but they are not enough. Without a great deal of work on the ground and in the trenches in the real word, the ideals, directions and priorities determined in the board room do not translate into action on the ground, and that is what counts!
Dr Christopher Moorhouse
19 November 2009