Helen Macpherson Smith Trust

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How we grant

HMSTrust’s funding decisions are guided by our vision, purpose, values, and guiding principles.

Our vision
A strong, just and sustainable Victoria
Balit, noogee ba kangooeit biik

Our purpose
Help build fair, creative and resilient Victorian communities through initiatives that promote positive change.

Our values
Respect. Integrity. Stewardship. Collaboration. Accountability.

Our guiding principles
HMSTrust’s grantmaking is based on Helen’s Will which defines our legal remit and provides an insight into Helen’s legacy.

  • The Trust’s legal remit is to fund charitable institutions and purposes in ‘Victoria only’.
  • The original corpus was largely built on the landholdings of Helen’s pioneering forebears, which is recognised by an ongoing commitment to rural and regional Victoria.
  • Our grantmaking is informed by Helen’s own philanthropy, which remained largely unchanged until her death in 1951. She was committed to relieving disadvantage through her annual support of: children’s health and wellbeing; disability; access to health care; welcoming strangers to our shores; animal welfare; and communities impacted by natural disasters.
    Helen’s philanthropy reflects a generous, determined and committed woman who sought no fuss or fanfare. Her choice in establishing a trust in perpetuity for the benefit of Victoria reflects a bold and visionary woman for her time.

Our grants strategy is changing…

Our new 2021-25 Grants Strategy will be activated in April 2021. A summary overview is available here.

The current grants strategy applies to the One-off Grants round, which opened on 27 January and closed for enquiries on Tuesday 16 February 2021, with applications due by midday on 18 February for a decision in April. This grants round is the last grants round in the current strategy.

Grants Matrix

The grants matrix is a graphic representation of our grants structure. The vertical columns represent the Trust’s five key objectives and the horizontal rows, the Trust’s five programs.

Key objectives:
 The proposed project is required to match at least three of HMSTrust’s five key objectives of which one must be selected as a primary objective. These objectives must match your own project objectives; and

Program and focus areas: 
The project must fall within one of HMSTrust’s five programs and is required to address at least one of the selected program’s three focus areas, which define the Trust’s current areas of interest. You can apply in one program only. You can choose more than one relevant focus area for that program, but you will need to justify your selection. Please note, our Health program is only available for Round 3: Grants $91k-$200k.

See if your project ticks the right boxes.

What we look for

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. Our grants strategy is designed to meet current community needs and expectations, but also to maximise the major social impacts and long-term benefits that can be delivered through strategic philanthropy.

HMSTrust encourages grant applications for projects which show vision and an innovative approach to solving problems, which have an emphasis on research or shared knowledge, and which have potential for further development and long-term outcomes.

Our grants program reflects our mission statement and is aligned with our strategic aims Building, Enabling, Leading:

  • Building the capacity of charitable organisations and the communities they serve
  • Enabling collaborative projects that can deliver even greater social benefits
  • Initiatives leading to positive community change.

Examples of types of support include:

  • Capacity Building
    Professional development, Strategy and business planning, Systems and operational improvements, Fundraising and marketing.
  • Project development
    Scoping, planning and feasability, Demonstration and pilots, Evaluation, Scale and replication.
  • Advocacy
    Research, Policy development, Raising awareness.

Here are some key points to consider when developing your application:

  • Potential for leverage
    Our grants have greater impact when combined with support from other sources. These might include other trusts and foundations, government, business or volunteers. We are happy to be one of a number of supporters of a program.
  • Sustainability
    In addition to reviewing the project budget, we take into account your organisation’s financial position and capacity to deliver the proposed project.
  • Long-term thinking
    We look for projects that will continue to have an impact well beyond the period of our grant. The long term sustainability of the project is an important consideration.
  • Evaluation
    We look for a commitment to measurement and evaluation. At the conclusion of a project, grantees are required to report outcomes and outputs against the project’s original objectives, which match HMSTrust’s objectives.

What we have funded

View the list of approved grants in our Grantee Database or read case studies of past and current grants.