How We Grant

HMSTrust's grants strategy reflects the legal parameters of Helen's will, her philanthropic preferences and the prime source of her legacy which was regional Victoria. Within these boundaries, the Trust's grants strategy is continuously evolving as it responds to changes in social needs, legislation and sector trends.

The HMSTrust matrix explained

The matrix structure was first introduced in FY14 and had an immediate impact on our grantmaking. It enabled the Trust to work more strategically, with greater efficiencies and to greater effect. The 5 x 5 matrix was developed to be an easy reference for grantseekers and provide clear guidelines across the grants process from enquiry through to approval. The columns represent the Trust’s five key objectives and the rows, the Trust’s five programs.

HMSTrust’s Grants Policy is reviewed every three years to ensure that our grantmaking remains relevant and effective in a rapidly changing social environment. The first review of our 2014 Grants Policy was completed in April 2017 based on the learnings from the previous three years. The revised grants strategy was implemented ready for FY18 grants. Key changes included replacing the ‘Regional Resilience’ program with ‘Community’ given that strengthening rural and regional Victoria is one of the five key objectives. The three specific focus areas under the Community program target parenting, early childhood development and financial resilience. The focus areas under the Arts and Culture program have been narrowed, and Health has been reduced to one focus area: ‘improving access to mental health services in rural and regional Victoria’.

The response to these changes has been generally positive, with the most significant impact being on Health, where the shift to a single narrow focus required time to understand the sector, build our network and start the conversations with potential grantees. Consequently, there are no Health grants for FY18, however, three grants have already been approved for FY19. The Programs section of our website provides full details.

The 5 x 5 matrix

The distinctive colour-coded HMSTrust matrix is a simple device that highlights the programs and objectives that define the Trust’s areas of interest.

An application is required to match:

  • one of the Trust’s five programs and at least one of that selected program’s focus areas; and
  • at least three of HMSTrust’s five key objectives.
How We Grant

Impact of the HMSTrust matrix

An analysis of grants data over the last seven years highlights the impact of the HMSTrust matrix on the quantity and quality of applications received. The matrix was introduced in FY14 and there was an immediate reduction in the number of applications received that were a poor match to the Trust’s areas of interest, which effectively increased the approval rate.

A direct impact of this initiative is that our grants staff have the time to develop greater knowledge and understanding across our programs, undertake more thorough due diligence and increase our active engagement with grantseekers and grantees.

The drop in approval rate in FY18 is largely due to the lower distribution level and an increase in the number of applications received in the open One-off Grants round. Ideally, we would like to reach a consistent approval rate of at least 50%, and to that end, we introduced a new application process for our FY19 One-off Grants. We extended our standard multi-year grants recommendation, that all grantseekers contact staff in advance of submitting an application, to One-off Grants. This has resulted in a 40% reduction in applications in FY19 which will bring our approval rate back up to our target. The benefits are two-fold. Grantseekers have an opportunity to talk to us before investing their precious time preparing applications that are a poor match to the Trust’s areas of interest, and our small grants team have more time to talk to grantseekers and for deeper due diligence on the applications we receive.

How We Grant