Helen Macpherson Smith Trust

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Our 2021-25 Grants Strategy

Our new five-year strategy is timely as we all adjust to the impacts of unprecedented global disruptions. We have sharpened our focus areas to align HMSTrust’s 70-year legacy with the social, economic and environmental issues that are front and centre of public discourse.

COVID-19 has changed the way we all live and work, and our new strategy reinforces our commitment to be more flexible, responsive, patient and supportive of the organisations we fund, so they are better placed to serve their communities.

Click on the Strategic Framework icon to see a one-page overview of what, why, who, how, and where we fund.

What we look for

We seek funding opportunities that align with our vision, purpose and values, and contribute to our long-term impact goals.

  • Building organisational capacity and sustainability
    Stronger organisations are able to deliver stronger outcomes. COVID-19 has highlighted the impacts of vulnerable business models and limited resources that hamper an organisation’s ability to deliver its mission effectively now and in the future.
  • Changing sector practice
    We seek to support solutions that have the potential to change entrenched sector practices that are no longer addressing the needs of our target beneficiaries across the Trust’s areas of interest.
  • Contributing to systems change  In order to address the root causes of the social problems that impact the communities we choose to support, we will focus on the components and structures of the systems that drive social change.

In addition to addressing Focus areas and Impact goals, we look for an alignment of vision, purpose and values, and expect the funding opportunities to address two further key elements of our grants framework: Target beneficiaries, and Levers for change.

We expect funding requests to address an identified gap in community need, and not replicate or duplicate an existing service or model. We encourage collaboration, partnership, and the potential for leverage. We look for sustainability beyond the funding period and a commitment to evaluation and the dissemination of findings.

Our strategic framework enables us to work across focus areas and programs as we respond to an increase in the number of organisations collaborating across sectors to address complex social issues.

Requests for projects and activities that do not align with our strategy will not be considered for funding

Our target beneficiaries

Because our core purpose is equity of opportunity for all Victorians, we apply an equity lens on the following target beneficiary groups experiencing socio-economic disadvantage.

Although many funding proposals will likely address more than one target beneficiary group, we ask applicants to identify the primary group that will directly benefit from the proposed project.

  • Women and girls
  • Indigenous Peoples
  • Migrants and Refugees
  • Communities experiencing inadequate resources and opportunities
  • Future generations impacted by current social, economic and environmental practices.

We ask applicants to identify the primary target beneficiary group that their project directly impacts.

Our levers for change

The challenge that we have set for ourselves is to ensure that every grant we make, from a smaller one-off Capacity Building Grants to a multi-year Major Grant, contributes to our core purpose of equity of opportunity, and to our three impact goals.

Five levers for change have been identified by the Trust as priority mechanisms for delivering on our three impact goals:

  • Capacity building – projects that develop and strengthen the skills, processes and resources required by an organisation to deliver its mission effectively now and in the future.
  • Innovation – Projects that prototype, develop and/or pilot smart ideas to solve challenging and often systemic social and environmental issues.
  • Delivery –  Projects delivering quality programs to address unmet or under-served community needs. Ongoing programs are not eligible for funding.
  • Scaling – Strategic expansion of a proven project or program, to increase social impact outcomes and contributes to long-term community benefit.
  • Advocacy – Research and dissemination; Raising awareness,  Community organising, and Policy development

Where we grant

HMSTrust funds only in Victoria, and has an ongoing commitment to supporting rural and regional Victoria.  Trustees have determined that a minimum of 35% of our annual distributions, on a rolling three-year basis, will directly benefit rural and regional communities.

Priority will be given to grants that are community led, delivered by a provider in that community or in partnership with a local provider.

Up to 65% of our annual distribution will benefit the communities of Greater Melbourne and for projects that have a statewide impact.

How we grant

A number of changes have been introduced across our four annual grant rounds to better reflect the needs of organisations working across our areas of interest, so they can in turn better serve their communities.

A key learning from COVID-19 is the need to design flexibility into our grantmaking. Our larger grants have increased granting levels over longer periods of time, and we have introduced ‘Special Interest Grants’, a dedicated grants round with the flexibility to target a single social, economic or environmental issue across our areas of interest. Every year, the Trust will respond to a specific community need by designating a target lens across the grants round. In FY22, that lens is ‘women and girls’.

Our smaller grants specifically target capacity building initiatives that will contribute to long-term sustainability. This is a rolling grants round approved quarterly.

Applications in the Capacity Building Grants and Special Interest Grants are required to strongly align to the Trust’s funding criteria and contribute to at least one of our three impact goals.

  • Capacity Building Grants (rolling grants round $20,000 – $50,000) approved quarterly. This grants round is for requests that use Capacity Building or Innovation levers to deliver: projects that develop and strengthen the skills, processes and resources required by an organisation to deliver its mission effectively now and in the future; or projects that require critical early support to incubate initiatives aimed at addressing entrenched community need.
  • FY22 Special Interest Grants – Women and Girls (multi-year grants up to $150,000)
    In FY22, this grants round applies a gender lens across our strategy, with a focus on women and girls. Special Interest Grants have a rotating focus determined annually. This flexibility ensures that we can be responsive and relevant to changing social, economic and environmental needs.
  • Major Grants (multi-year grants round up to $400,000)
  • Partnership Grants (over $400,000 by invitation only)

Eligibility is a key funding criteria, and a full list of eligibility criteria, including what HMSTrust does not fund, is listed on the Eligibility page.

We maintain our open door policy and we will continue to connect, convene, collaborate, and be a sounding board across the sectors we support.

What we have funded

Our Grantee Database is a fully searchable listing of all grants approved by the Trust since 1955 and our bank of grantee case studies feature past and current grants that have strongly aligned with the Trust’s grants strategy at the time. We maintain our open door policy and we will continue to connect, convene, collaborate, and be a sounding board across the sectors we support.