For the Year ended 30 June 2017
The Invergowrie Foundation celebrates its 25th Anniversary in 2017. The Foundation has grown its initial investment of around $3m in 1992 to approximately $16m in 2017 and during this time the Foundation has made distributions of just under $9m to schools and community organisations that are advancing the education of girls and women in Victoria.
During the 2016-2017 financial year the Council has continued to implement the strategic approach that was developed over a 12-month period and adopted in 2016.
At this point it is worth briefly recapping on the steps we have taken over the last two years to understand how we have arrived at where we are today.
In 2015 the Council, conscious that the philanthropic landscape was evolving, decided to undertake a strategic review. The purpose of the review was to look at what options might be available to the Foundation to develop a focused approach that would continue to fulfil our mission to advance the education of girls and women in Victoria.
As a result of the review the Council agreed that the area where Invergowrie could have a specific focus in strengthening the opportunities for girls and women was Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM).
Having decided that STEM would be our focus area, we looked at our grant-making history – who we have supported and to what value; we considered the type of grant-making approach that would be required by supporting a specific area (rather than funding a number of different themes and areas) and we agreed that any changes in our funding approach needed to benefit Victoria as a whole (and not focus predominately on Melbourne and its surrounds).
So, with these parameters agreed we embarked on testing whether our initial idea of focusing on STEM would be worthwhile and in particular our ideas of:
- undertaking some Research to summarise what is happening in the STEM area;
- how to improve teaching outcomes;
- creating a STEM camp for girls.
To test our ideas, we undertook a series of interviews covering selected businesses, universities, schools, government departments and individuals across Victoria, interstate and overseas.
Over the course of the interviews there was support from all areas for the direction that Invergowrie was considering. We interviewed, the then Lead Scientist for Victoria, Leonie Walsh and she was particularly encouraging.
The outcome of this work was 3 recommendations:
- The Invergowrie Foundation commission a research paper into STEM to bring together research and data from around Australia and overseas to see what is happening in this area;
- The Invergowrie Foundation support the development of an Expert STEM Education Hub (to support Teaching and Learning); and
- Develop the Invergowrie Annual STEM Summit (for girls in secondary school)
The Council adopted the three recommendations but with the view to commence with recommendation 1, the research paper, which would inform whether recommendations 2 and 3 were appropriate for the Foundation to undertake.
In September/October last year we engaged Marylou Verberne to assist us in managing the research process. A tender document was developed and 7 organisations were invited to make a submission.
The successful submission was a joint tender from the University of Melbourne and Deakin University. Over the last seven months this research has been undertaken. Last week we received a final draft for consideration. On Tuesday, the Council met with representatives of the 2 Universities to discuss the paper and its findings. The next phase will be to hold 3 workshops to test the findings. These workshops will consist of representatives from schools, governments and business.
Following on from the workshops, the discussion will be reviewed and the report will be finalised taking into account these discussions.
From the Foundation’s perspective once the report has been finalised the Council will review the recommendations with The University of Melbourne and Deakin University to look at how and where the Foundation can have impact in this area going forward. It is still too early to discuss the findings of the report but we will provide members with feedback prior to the launch of the report.
Planning for the launch of the report is underway and will be combined with this year’s AGM. The AGM and the launch will be held at the State Library on Thursday 2 November. This function will also provide an opportunity to acknowledge and celebrate the 25th Anniversary of the Foundation. More information will be forthcoming about this event so please watch out for it as this promises to be a significant event for the Foundation.
While I was writing this report, it struck me that I may not have articulated very clearly how the operations of the Foundation are changing. So, let me attempt to do this now.
As a result of the work being undertaken by the Foundation over the last 2 years our grant making has been reduced (we have only funded the long-term commitments that we had made and are not taking on any new applications) as we begin to refocus the operations of the Foundation.
This has been a deliberate strategy designed with the purpose of building the investment base of the Foundation, which I am pleased to say, now stands at just under $16m.
The other deliberate strategy is to develop a targeted grant-making approach to have greater impact on the areas that we choose to support. Rather than providing a large number of small grants over a range of different areas, the new approach will consist of providing a few larger grants, together with a few smaller grants all designed to focus on a specific area (currently this focus is STEM education); this approach is designed to provide Invergowrie with a way to have greater sustainable impact with its grant-making in the future.
In summary, the Council’s goals are 1) to build the Foundation’s financial capacity and 2) implement a targeted grant-making model that delivers high quality and sustainable outcomes in the area of education for girls and women.
At the operational level the Foundation has, over the last 12 months, undertaken the following:
- Maintained the Foundation’s commitment to grant recipients who have been supported through multi-year grants.
- The Council had decided not to renew the lease for the Invergowrie office. The office has formally been registered at the offices of Bell Potter. The Council will review the office requirements of the Foundation once it has considered the outcomes of the research being undertaken.
- Appointed an expert consultant to oversee the research component of the strategic review.
- Continued to manage the Invergowrie Investment portfolio with the assistance of our Investment Advisor.
As noted above the Foundation did not make any new grants in 2016/2017. It disbursed $55,387 in grants where funding commitments had been made in prior years. The total disbursements since the Foundation’s formation in 1992 is $8.747 million.
In conclusion, I would like to acknowledge the work of the following people:
The members of the Finance Committee. Their careful management of the Foundation’s investment portfolio in conjunction with our investment advisor Ms Sandi Tuddenham of Bell Potter Securities is greatly appreciated. The Finance Committee is chaired by Anne Sarros and members of the committee are Heather Schnagl (the Foundation’s Treasurer), Judith Potter, John Symons and Neil Tonkin.
I would like to acknowledge the work of Kim Bartlett, the CEO of the Invergowrie Foundation. We were fortunate that Kim has been able to continue in her role this year and are very grateful to her for everything she has done to keep things in order during our transition.
Finally, I would like to acknowledge the work of all the members of the Council. As I have acknowledged before it is a privilege to be able to work with such inspirational people. So, to Susan Stevens (Deputy Chair), Heather Schnagl (Treasurer), Meg Hansen, Judith Potter, Lisa Ronald and Anne Sarros thank you for your passion, dedication and contribution to the work of the Foundation, it is a pleasure to be a part of this group.
The Invergowrie Foundation has come a long way in the last 25 years and it continues to evolve and adapt to ensure that it makes a valuable contribution to the education of girls and women in Victoria now and in the future.