A Community Foundation for Everyone in Sydney

Sydney Community Foundation is in its tenth year! In 2003 a feasibility study, funded by The Myer Foundation and the then NSW Premier's Department, confirmed that Sydney residents would embrace their own community foundation, provided that it considered the overall greater Sydney community and respected the diverse groups in it. Melbourne's Myer Foundation believed Sydney needed a Foundation to attract the philanthropic giving that Melbourne is well known for. Ten years on they have been proved right.

Four founding members came together to work co-operatively on building the Foundation - CAF Australia, United Way Sydney, Philanthropy Australia and an individual, Heather Kent. It was felt that each had a valuable contribution to make to the Sydney community. Financial support for infrastructure costs was received from several donors including the then NSW Premier's Department, The Sydney City Council, The Myer Foundation and a variety of Sydney individuals.

These founding partners subsequently undertook extensive donor research to try to understand:

  • What would motivate people to give to a community foundation;
  • The role a community foundation could play in Sydney;
  • What causes were seen as important to Sydney; and
  • Organisational attributes and activities of high importance to the community and donors.

The sample of people who participated in the donor research provided a good snapshot of Sydney. Both focus groups and one-on-one interviews with wealthy individuals, spanning community, business and government leaders, were conducted. The focus groups comprised a mixture of ethnic, geographic and age-related communities in the greater Sydney area.

The findings from the donor research were very positive. The creation of a new perpetual fund for Sydney seemed to capture the hearts and minds of participants. The development of a philanthropic venture for Sydney, involving the community and creating the space for public debate and independent research about the big issues for this area, was seen by participants as core to its purpose and mission. The notion of perpetuity, a fund for Sydney, forever, seemed most central and influential to sentiments about the Foundation's development and management.

The vision for the Sydney Community Foundation was compelling enough to attract a talented Board, with the first group of Directors representing business, community leaders and state and local government.

After several months of hard work by many individuals and organisations, the Sydney Community Foundation was launched on 24 March 2004.