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CEO Sarah Hardy looks to the year ahead

23 Jan 2024

In her first blog of the year, CEO Sarah Hardy looks at the priorities that lie ahead.

Last year was challenging in many ways for the philanthropy sector; there is simply not enough money to keep up with the requests for funds from so many parts of the community. 

And it is going to continue to be tough for many people in 2024. Climate change events will continue to cause losses, overseas conflicts will continue to cause great distress, and the cost of living will mean ongoing struggles for many individuals and families. 

We cannot afford to drop the ball on pushing for equity of access to services for our most vulnerable. Collaboration in philanthropy is key if we are to make significant change, 

I am looking forward to the Philanthropy Australia conference in August this year, which has a theme I really like: ‘For the Love of Humanity: Impact with Humility’. 

Humility in philanthropy is important because it helps counter the imbalance that exists between grant makers and grantees. Humility reminds us that we need to listen to and learn from grantees - and recognise they know more than we do.  

I saw examples of that last year in all the projects we supported, including several programs managed by Indigenous communities. 

This year, for example, will see the continuation of a new project that will help to prepare First Nations girls in the south-west of Victoria to be confident and connected future leaders. The project is run by Beyond the Bell, which works closely with local Aboriginal cooperatives. 

Like many in the philanthropy sector, I was deeply disappointed at the failure of the referendum last year. However, our commitment to listen to the voices of First Nations people and support communities did not begin with the referendum, and our resolve is strengthened.

Last year was also challenging at times for me on a personal level, but I was able to find comfort in spending more time in nature. I took challenging walks in the bush and along our coastline again, which has reminded me of how lucky I am to live close to wonderful parks, waterways, bushland and the sea.

It also made me even more connected to my work at the Ross well as being a trustee of the National Parks Conservation Trust, where we focus on projects that have the potential to reverse threats to Australia’s natural world and cultural heritage. 

I am looking forward to keeping you updated on our work in 2024. I am always happy to hear from others in the sector or who want to join philanthropy. There is a lot of work to do.