In addition to business as usual, we have formalised three significant items of governance.
Following a lengthy legal process, HMSTrust obtained a Cy Près order in the Supreme Court on 15 October 2015. This important change extends the Trust’s remit to include “charitable purposes in the State of Victoria”. As a consequence, the Trustees have determined to widen the Trust’s eligibility criteria to include Victorian-based charitable institutions that operate both inside and outside Victoria for a charitable purpose undertaken solely in Victoria. This extended remit maintains the Trust’s commitment to Victoria, while responding to the growing trend of Victorian-based organisations extending their footprint over the Victorian border.
Another initiative that will broaden the remit of HMSTrust is impact investment. This evolving trend in philanthropy has far-reaching implications for testamentary trusts established in perpetuity. These implications were carefully considered by the Investment Committee over the past year, and in September 2016, the Trustees approved new guidelines for responsible investment that align with HMSTrust’s vision and grant making strategy. Impact investment has been included as an asset class, within strict guidelines up to a limit of 2% of the corpus.
The third initiative was the seemingly mundane task of updating and consolidating existing policies into a fully revised policy handbook. There is always a danger in losing corporate memory as we continually embrace change, and it was agreed to include all references to relevant governing documents and background to Trustees’ decisions. What began as a generous bequest of £275,000 in 1951 has evolved over a 65-year continuum of wise investment and grant making. Our policies have been shaped over time by changes in legislation, the economy and social need. This continually updated Policies Handbook will provide Trustees and staff, today and in the future, with a fully documented corporate memory of the Trust’s history, and a clear legal framework for governing and managing HMSTrust.
Our grants for the year
In this, our third year since the introduction of the HMSTrust matrix, we received 116 applications, of which 66 were approved for a total of $3,765,255 across our five programs. The increase in our approval rate by 41% following implementation of the matrix approach is testament to the success of our grants structure and strategy. This efficiency has enabled the Trust to work more strategically, build deeper relationships with our grantees, and further develop our data management capacity. A noticeable trend in our grants for the year is the steady increase in grants for capacity building initiatives, representing 39% of all grants approved for FY2016. Capacity building is one of our five key objectives and this increase highlights the influence of the matrix structure on our grantmaking. The full listing of our FY2016 grants, and a breakdown of grants across our programs, plus ten inspiring case studies are in the Grants section of this Annual Report.
The HMSTrust team
The excellent work undertaken throughout the year is a direct reflection of the skills and commitment of dynamic team. We all work in concert to deliver on our vision for a strong, just and sustainable Victoria, and the Trust’s strategic aims of Building, Enabling, and Leading continue to guide and link our three areas of operations from investment and finance through to grantmaking.
Earlier in this report, I referred to the ‘65-year continuum of wise investment and grant making’. We operate in an ever-changing social landscape and to ensure that we remain relevant, we need to continuously evaluate and learn. This web-based Annual Report is just one of the many online changes that we initiated last year. Change is also inevitable within the Trust, and we were all saddened to farewell Fran Awcock after nine years as a committed Trustee. We will miss Fran’s insightful contributions and her pragmatic approach to philanthropy, which are highlighted in the interview with Fran that is featured in this Annual Report.
As we work to complete the final stage of our grants review, I thank our Chairman, Philip Moors, for his support and astute leadership, and express my gratitude to our Trustees and staff for their inquiring minds and the courage of their convictions, which inevitably lead us to better outcomes.
Lin Bender AM