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Advocacy toolkit to give communities a voice

The Ross Trust has been profiled as a case study as part of Philanthropy Australia’s new online advocacy toolkit, launched at Philanthropy Meets Parliament 2019 in Canberra.


Trustee and former Chair, Jenny Stephens, and CEO Sarah Hardy, have spoken about the Ross Trust’s position on advocacy and the important role it has – and will – play as the Trust works with other for-purpose organisations to shift the dial on complex social issues.


Supporting advocacy is an important element of the Trust’s new five-year strategy, which has been developed over the past year and was released in July. The video case study also expands on the new strategy.


“Philanthopy Australia has been doing some excellent thinking and work in terms of the role philanthropy can play in contributing to shifts in policy,” CEO Sarah Hardy said.


“This online advocacy toolkit will provide organisations with some great ideas and practical tools about how to amplify their advocacy efforts and to use advocacy in a more strategic, purposeful way; giving people a voice in policy reform discussions.


“It’s great timing from the Ross Trust’s perspective, as we seek to work with for-purpose organisations on creating significant improvements and change in the complex worlds of biodiversity conservation and educational equity.


“These complex social issues require a number of levers to be moved to achieve change, and advocacy is just one way of helping to move those levers. We have now introduced advocacy grants as a specific funding stream,” Sarah said.


Jenny Stephens, who is also on the Board of Philanthropy Australia, said “There is an increasing sophistication in philanthropic circles about the need to get in there at the policy level. Nothing substantial will change unless we can engage with government to change some of those paradigms and I think philanthropy is really getting on board with that, so that really is an exciting development.”


This sophistication has been echoed by the Ross Trust experiencing an increase in requests for philanthropic support for advocacy work.


“Opportunities inherent in funding advocacy seem to me to far outweigh the risks. But philanthropy can take risks… if we’re not taking risks then it’s going to be really hard in the sector to get change,” Jenny said.


View the Ross Trust case study here.


Check out the new toolkit, the Power of Advocacy, which is available online from Philanthropy Australia.