The objective of the Foundation's grants is to make positive contributions in defined areas of community need. In assessing potential projects for funding the Trustee looks for one or more of the following outcomes:
- Improved understanding and knowledge of a problem or area;
- The gravity of a problem and the scale of potential benefits from successful outcomes of the project (e.g. leverage or multiplier effect);
- Sharing of improved knowledge so that others may learn from the experience and knowledge gained;
- Sustainability of the improvements or advancements sought;
- Wider adoption of and/or realisation of prior successful work, especially in relation to medical research projects;
- Projects that have a community flow-on effect by utilising qualified volunteers or making better use of community resources. Community ownership of a local issue and participation in the solution greatly increases its effectiveness and is more likely to lead to sustainable improvements/alleviation of the problem in the long-term.
The Foundation aims to support larger scale projects that have the potential to achieve significant leverage from the Foundation's donations and have the capabilities to scale-up a program for national reach. The Foundation recognises that many projects need to be supported over a number of years if they are to fully realise the program's objectives. As a result, the Foundation generally seeks to partner with not-for-profit organisations or principal research institutions who have demonstrated the skills, track record and commitment to accomplish the work proposed. The Foundation typically directs its grant funding to support larger value projects and mostly provides multi-year funding, generally spanning at least a three year period.
The Trustee acknowledges the higher level of 'risk' with its granting strategy (fewer and larger and multi-year) however believes that a more significant outcome can potentially be achieved through this type of approach, rather than award many smaller value, ad-hoc grants that may not be as impactful in the long-term. The Colonial Foundation believes this is a differentiating factor when comparing its philanthropic practises with its peer group of Australian trusts and foundations.
Current Funding Priorities
The Foundation's current focus is on developing partnerships with organisations that provide support and solutions to enable young people from vulnerable or disadvantaged circumstances achieve their optimum personal and social potential as they grow into adulthood. Support for young people to improve their health and wellbeing and to achieve positive experiences and outcomes is likely to lead to life-long benefits to the young person and measurable benefits to the wider community. Programs which attempt to identify and deal with 'root causes' of a problem are favoured over those that treat the 'after effects'.