The past year has been a full and busy year for our small team of 2.6 FTE (plus our CEO when she’s not focused on CEO matters). The breadth of grantmaking across our five programs exposes us to an extraordinary mix of people, projects and places: from our smallest grant of $18,665 to Nar Nar Goon Kindergarten for their inspirational community Indigenous heritage mural project to our large Impact Grants, which included $200,000 to Trust for Nature to build a long-term legacy of sustainable lands-use on the Northern Plains, and to the Australian Centre for Rural Entrepreneurship (ACRE) to scale their ‘Social Enterprise in Schools’ program across Victoria.
Revised grants strategy
We implemented our revised grants strategy this year, which is discussed on the next page ‘How we grant’. Every change was informed by our learnings from previous years, and a review of current social issues and funding gaps that we could fill. A key strategy is to support practical solutions that focus on the fence at the top of the cliff rather than the ambulance at the bottom. One significant change was the introduction of our new Community focus areas of ‘parenting’, ‘early childhood development’ and ‘financial resilience’, and we were pleased that eight strong Community grants were awarded in this first year, for a total of $647,500. Conversely, in this year no grants were awarded to Health, which is only available at our highest grant level, and now has a single focus area on ‘improving access to mental health services in rural and regional Victoria’; nonetheless, the conversations set in place in FY18 have resulted in three grants in FY19.
Building, Enabling, Leading…
As the team collectively looked back over FY18, it was clear that our three strategic aims: Building, Enabling and Leading represent a “virtuous circle” that underpins our practice.
We realise that we never stop ‘building’. We’re continuously building our knowledge, our networks and outreach, our resources, our capabilities, and our learnings, which all underpin our capacity to implement our vision for a strong, just and sustainable Victoria.
Although our funding strategy of itself is a key enabler, we’re increasingly using our staff skills, networks, and resources to enable empowerment of grantseekers and grantees alike. The ‘leading’ comes from our grantees, who so often deliver outstanding outcomes that set benchmarks for best practice, or identify vital lessons from implementation failures. The ongoing investment in building our own capacity sets up the virtuous circle of enabling our grantees to lead.
We’re always mindful that significant outcomes are often not realised until long after the end of a funding cycle, and that our grant represents only one part of a complex set of inputs that contribute to a good outcome. For these reasons, we encourage grantees to stay in touch with us long after they have submitted their final report, and we continually seek to identify opportunities to build on past successes or connect grantees to like-minded practitioners/organisations working on similar issues.
In the coming year, we continue to look forward to sharing the journeys of our current and future grantees 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