Engaging with Philanthropics: Insights from The Sydney Foundation


Two of the many messages from keynote speaker Kristi Mansfield at the Coalition of Community Boards Community Development Conference QLD event recently.

Kristi is Chief Executive of the Sydney Community Foundation with a passion for connecting worthwhile community initiatives with people who care and have resources to support.

Kristi Mansfield - Sydney Community Foundation
Kristi Mansfield – Sydney Community Foundation

Kristi said she identified that very important work is being done in some of Sydney’s most disadvantaged areas, and is often done by women working with small community organisations. They have the community connections and they have the passion, but they do not have access to financial resources. She also knew lots of people who earn good money, and want to give to good causes. Her role has been to connect the two via Sydney Community Foundation.

She said place based giving is the progressive edge of the philanthropic world. She has seen it overseas, but it is fairly new in Australia.  Not only do the Sydney Community Foundation grant funds from the interest on their investments, they also connect projects with program funding.

Sydney Community Foundation undertook research in Western Sydney and found that only 2% of funding into that area is from Philanthropic giving, whereas the national average is 10%. She reminded that even that 2% did not necessarily go to small community organisations. So there is a serious funding deficit into more disadvantaged areas and especially to locally based organisations.

Tips from Kristi about relationship building with philanthropists

  • You need to learn how to communicate to philanthropists so they understand the concept/project
  • You need to articulate the solution
  • Impact measurement – you will need evidence.
    • What impact is the program/project making?
    • What are your outcomes or KPI’s
    • Are you measuring your achievements and successes?
    • Do you have systems in place to measure future achievements?

Identify and Articulate

Identify Issues Needs Solutions Outcome

Key Takeaways:

  1. Articulate what it is that you achieve before connecting with business or philanthropics
  2. Get clear on what you will achieve with their help
  3. Build relationships – continuously build connections through existing contacts. Kristi is unaware of any large philanthropic funding being granted without first having a relationship
  4. Know who the leaders are
  5. Find philanthropists who put community first


There is no research on Queensland community group’s access to philanthropic funding. CoCB will undertake this research, and begin a strategy to secure more of our share. If you want to be part of this strategy and the research, please contact the Coalition of Community Boards.

The Coalition of Community Boards would like to extend our warmest thanks to Kristi for taking time out of her busy schedule to share such rich information and insights with us.  To find out more about the Sydney Community Foundation visit their website on www.sydneycommunityfoundation.com.au