The joy of experiential giving

Monday 21 December 2015

Master of Social Investment and Philanthropy student

Master of Social Investment and Philanthropy student, Madeleine Grummet, found Swinburne's program a highly rewarding experience. Photo credit: Nikole Ramsay

In summary

  • Social investment and philanthropy students give away $10,000
  • First program of its kind in Australia
  • Unique opportunity for hands-on philanthropy experience

Swinburne University of Technology social investment and philanthropy students gave away $10,000 to a high-impact not-for-profit organisation as part of a pioneering unit offered at the university.

The experiential giving unit, Strategic Philanthropy and Grantmaking, is the first of its kind in Australia and offers students a unique opportunity to gain real world experience in strategic philanthropy and grant-making.

“For me, this was really about experiencing philanthropy first hand. It has deepened my understanding of the grant-making process,” Ms Madeleine Grummet, Master of Social Investment and Philanthropy student, says.

“I would encourage anyone who would like to not just dip a toe but dive into the philanthropic sector to undertake this course for an immersive, intensive, incredibly rewarding learning experience.”

The unit was supported by a generous grant of $37,000 from the Truby and Florence Williams Charitable Trust managed by Equity Trustees

Equity Trustees’ General Manager of Philanthropy, Tabitha Lovett, says Equity Trustees is very pleased to support this opportunity for Masters students to explore the fundamentals of grant-making and social investment.

“We are delighted that through this new program, students of philanthropy will be able to experience both the challenges and rewards of being involved in intellectually rigorous and thoughtful allocation of philanthropic resources,” Ms Lovett says.

“Philanthropy is a fascinating area in which to work and it is a great privilege to distribute funds to charitable causes and organisations to advance development and effect social change.”

The students were required to develop a comprehensive grant-making program, which involved setting a mission and priorities, developing a reporting and evaluation framework and completing a full grant-making cycle, all within a tight timeframe.

“Our mission was to help disadvantaged women in Victoria,” Ms Suzanne Findlay, Master of Social Investment and Philanthropy student, says.

After identifying 109 charitable organisations based on an expert referral process, 61 organisations were invited to complete an Expression of Interest (EOI).

Ultimately 30 EOI responses were received and four candidates were shortlisted through a specially designed application and assessment process that involved sophisticated criteria, ratings and scoring scales, coupled with due diligence.

The final recipient of the $10,000 was River Nile Learning Centre, an off-campus re-engagement program of Mount Alexander College that addresses the unique educational needs of young African refugee women.

The funds were used to assist in upgrading River Nile’s childcare facility, which will support its work in empowering disadvantaged young refugee and asylum seeker women and their children.

SmartyGrants generously provided students pro bono access to its grant management systems.

“Access to the leading grant management platform in Australia made the process of seeking grants much more straightforward for us and the applicants,” Ms Findlay says.

Introduced this year, the experiential giving unit draws on programs operating across 35 colleges and universities in the United States and Canada, under the auspice of The Learning by Giving Foundation, led by Northeastern University in Boston.