Red Earth Community Foundation staff and past and present Board members with Ian Bird (at back, centre) and Jane Hawthorne (at front, right) from Community Foundations Australia (Photo: RECF)

April 8, 2024

Philanthropy expert Ian Bird has praised the concept of the Red Earth Community Leadership Program during his recent visit to the South Burnett.

“Your 220-strong alumni . . . is part of the strength of Red Earth,” Mr Bird said.

“The fact that community foundations are built on relationships is why they outlast government commitments and economic cycles and so they endure for the long term.”

Mr Bird is CEO of Community Foundations Australia.

He said the Red Earth Community Foundation was “fascinating” in the way it operates.

Most community foundations were grant-giving organisations set up in response to a disaster or on behalf of a donor; Red Earth’s core purpose was built on investing in people as a vehicle for change.

“We are looking at ways to continue to connect and empower our alumni and help more people experience transformative outcomes from participating in Red Earth’s community leadership program and other initiatives,” Red Earth deputy chair John Carey said.

“Their ripple effect throughout the Burnett Inland and beyond is tangible and valuable, and we want to continue to invest in our alumni.”

Mr Bird said a common thread of most community foundations was their philanthropic structure which enabled them to be a conduit for funding for important local initiatives.

He gave examples such as the  “Give Where You Live” campaigns run by Mackay Community Foundation and Geelong Community Foundation, where the foundations invest donations and bequests with earnings from those investments distributed to the community by way of grants.

Because the capital investment is never touched, there is an ever-increasing income stream for the community.

Red Earth would like to establish something similar here.

“The Burnett Inland is a generous region and we want to provide an opportunity for people to have an intergenerational impact in the place they love and work,” Mr Carey said.

Mr Bird has worked with community foundations across Canada, the United States and Australia and is committed to helping strengthen the 40 community foundations is Australia to become dynamic and integral partners in their communities.

Community News


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