We continue to be elevated by the success of many of our funded projects; and we have learnt alongside our applicants and grantees about the issues they face and from the sometimes surprising outcomes, good and not so good.
We all work across HMSTrust’s five programs areas, and spend our year gathering and digesting relevant information. The scale and diversity of information we process throughout the year is rewarding and at the same time, challenging. We remain apprised through our informative conversations with applicants, along with sector forums, publications and grantee events that build our knowledge across our issue areas. In FY17, we received and evaluated 130 grant applications. The evaluation process is another key source of information, which includes a significant level of due diligence, as well as further research on the issues and proposed activities. Grantee reports are especially informative and we’re pleased with the positive response of grantees to our online reporting process, which is designed to make the onus of reporting easier for grantees as well as providing us with valuable data. Over the past year, we reviewed 115 progress and final reports. Importantly, our learnings help guide potential grantees, and enable us to be proactive in seeking out and connecting organisations with aligned objectives. The learnings from our last four years of grantmaking have contributed to HMSTrust’s recent grants policy review and subsequent program and focus area changes that were implemented at the end of FY17.
We are mindful of the need to keep up-to-date with best practice in grantmaking, and in FY17, HMSTrust attended two international conferences: Lea-Anne Bradley attended the PEAK Grantmaking Conference in Los Angeles, where evaluation was a key theme; and Lin Bender attended the Grantmakers for Effective Organisations conference in Chicago, with its theme on learning from our grantees. We are also working closely with our fellow funders to improve our processes, to make ourselves more efficient and effective and to support the applicants and grantees with whom we work.
One of the most pleasing outcomes for us is to see the long-term journey of a grant.
Usually the first step in the journey is an initial enquiry, which is often followed by a meeting to better understand each other, and we are mindful that listening needs to take place on both sides. It is always satisfying to receive a grant application which has been developed based on discussion and feedback, and we celebrate with the grantees when the Trustees approve their project.
It has been rewarding to see grantees such as the River Nile Learning Centre, an organisation which HMSTrust has supported for some years, blossom into a significant education support for disadvantaged refugee and asylum seeker women. From initial small project grants, and a number of declined requests, the Trustees approved a capacity building grant that this year enabled it to secure registration as an independent school, significantly contributing to the sustainability of the organisation in future years. During this time HMSTrust became aware of another young organisation, Zoe Support Australia, which provides pathways to education for young mothers in Mildura. Zoe Support has also been grappling with how to diversify its funding while remaining mission-focused, and had identified the establishment of an independent school as a potential approach. An introduction between these grantees has led to the generous support of The River Nile Centre now sharing its learnings with Zoe Support.
Another significant grantee achievement realised this year was the establishment of the Central Victorian Biolinks Alliance as an incorporated entity with charity and DGR status. Since 2012, HMSTrust has provided funding to The Wilderness Society and Victorian National Parks Association as key partners in the formation of an alliance of organisations and landholders working across Central Victoria. From initial scoping, piloting and strategic planning support, this unique collaborative conservation approach has evolved into an independent organisation with an ambitious goal of supporting landscape scale conservation across Victoria.
We look forward to sharing the journeys of our current and future grantees in FY18 as we work towards achieving HMSTrust’s vision of “A strong, just and sustainable Victoria”.
Lea-Anne Bradley, Grants Manager
Sarah Bartak, Grants and Communications Officer
Michelle Springall, Grants Support and Executive Assistant