A Manifesto from Down Under

In September 2011, the Australian Institute of Grants Management issued a manifesto or – as they define it – a “Clear and conspicuous declaration of intent, policy and aims.” This extraordinary document lays out values and principles that they believe should undergird and inspire grantmaking.

All five of the beliefs described by the manifesto are fabulous:

  1. Grantmaking is an absolutely central element in the Australian economic system
  2. Australia needs more and better professional grantmakers
  3. Grantmakers should listen to the communities they serve
  4. Grantmakers should be efficient
  5. Grantmakers should be ethical

Who could argue with any of that?

But the fourth point: “Grantmakers should be efficient” caught our streamlining eye… and goes on to make propositions that are music to our ears: Wastage is indefensible. Skimping on systems, technology and professional staff is equally wicked.

(Wow: wicked! That’s just not a word that gets thrown about much in philanthropy.)

They go on to propose that grantmakers should budget for the resources they need to do their job, employ properly skilled and trained staff, take full advantage of modern technology, and streamline processes and keep the information required of applicants to a minimum.

In a sector that’s full of promising practices, guidelines, standards for excellence, and the like, it’s refreshing to read something as passionately (and sensibly) framed as this manifesto.

Stay tuned for Project Streamline’s upcoming report: Practices that Matter: Taking Stock of Streamlining, which will be a bit of a manifesto of our own.

Jessica Bearman

Jessica Bearman works with foundations and other mission-based organizations, focusing on organization development, facilitation, and R&D to help them become more intentional, effective, and responsive to the communities that they serve. She is also known as Dr. Streamline. Follow her on Twitter @jbearwoman.

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