Catalytic Philanthropy

The Menzies Foundation is deeply dedicated to advancing and refining its philanthropic endeavours while simultaneously striving to uplift and enhance philanthropic practises across the sector. At the core of its mission lies the unwavering commitment to cultivating a best practise approach in all aspects of its charitable work, seeking innovative solutions, and generating a lasting positive impact in society.

Menzies Foundation recognises that collaboration is a powerful catalyst for change. It actively seeks opportunities to collaborate with like-minded organisations, governmental bodies, academic institutions, and community stakeholders. By forging strong partnerships, the Foundation leverages collective expertise, resources, and network, thereby multiplying the positive outcomes of its philanthropic efforts. 

Bridgespan: Cultivating a Global Community of Best Practice

In recognition of the Foundation’s impact focused approach, the Bridgespan Group, invited the Menzies Foundation to join a select group of 5-6 global funders in support of the Field Building for Equitable Systems Change initiatives.

 The Bridgespan Group, is one of the world’s leading social impact consultants and advisors to nonprofits, NGO’s, corporations, philanthropists, and investors, provides strategy consulting and leadership development that addresses opportunities and challenges related to scaling social impact. 

The multi-year initiative focuses on field building toward equitable systems change. This is a collaborative and comprehensive initiative to significantly increase the amount of flexible philanthropic investment and support going toward field building efforts—including for field catalysts, which function as nerve centres for achieving equitable impact across social sectors. 

The objective is to assist these initiatives and organisations in enhancing their ability to facilitate population-level transformation across various fields and systems that profoundly affect the well-being of individuals, families, and communities. 

The Menzies Foundation strategy is closely aligned with the field building approach. We understand that catalytic initiatives for systemic change are dependent on the development of the field building capability of system intermediaries to scaffold multi-sector collaborations and believe this initiative will make an important contribution to the development of this capability in the system. 

This initiative builds on Bridgespan’s robust research, deep work with proximate leaders, and prior experience on multi-year influence campaigns that change philanthropic practices and norms.

Shaping Innovations Futures: Uncovering the conditions we need to accelerate regenerative and distributive futures.

To realise regenerative and distributive futures, we need more systemic approaches to innovation and transformation. This initiative engages practitioners and innovators across Australasia and invites them to reimagine their individual and collective roles in this future. 

Evaluating for Impact

In September 2022, Liz Gillies CEO of Menzies Foundation, presented a masterclass at the Philanthropy Australia Conference in Sydney.

She was joined by the following panellists:

  • Katherines Greiner – Director, Menzies Foundation Board
  • Chris Marmo – CEO, Paper Giant 
  • Claire Hanratty – Director, GoodWolf Partners
  • Dr Kerry Elliott – Senior Researcher Fellow, ACER
  • Anna Powell – CEO, Collaboration for Impact 
  • Sarah Jenkins – Strategic Communications Manager, Menzies Foundation 
  • Sam Richards – Managing Director, Brightlight Impact

The masterclass took a deep dive into exploring a best practice framework for building catalytic philanthropic platforms for impact.

Towards a Better Practice Model

The Philanthropy: Towards a Better Practice Model report, released in May 2018 by the Asia Pacific Social Impact Centre, authored by Menzies Foundation CEO, Liz Gillies, Dr Jodie York, Melbourne Business School and Dr Joanna Minkiewicz, Deakin University revealed philanthropy as an important catalyst for social change and plays a pivotal an instrumental role in supporting communities and ameliorating disadvantage.

Key findings suggest optimism about the future of philanthropy in Australia and a genuine desire to continue to develop best practise approaches to social impact by both grant makers and grant seekers. All those interviewed were united in their commitment to address serious social problems and work collaboratively to support social change. However, findings revealed a disconnect between Australian grant seeker and grant maker perceptions around these issues, with philanthropists having a far more favourable view of the state of practises and relationships in the sector than their non-for-profit (NFP) counterparts.

The Continued Journey to Real Impact and Better Practice

Building on the Philanthropy: Towards Better Practice (2018) Report, this report provides guidance to better grant maker practice and highlights some critical challenges and opportunities facing the philanthropic sector.

Supported by Dr. Jodi York, the Asia Pacific Social Impact CentreUniversity of Melbourne, and Kate McKegg, Knowledge Institute, this Report revisits the progress the Australian philanthropic sector has made against the 5 pillars of best practice and, through the contribution of the members of the Philanthropy Impact Pioneers Program, does a deep dive practical into the challenges of genuinely engaging and holding ourselves to account for the impact of that work.

Our aim is to deepen insights around better practice and to drive meaningful change by continuing to emphasize the importance of evaluation, strategy and social impact frameworks to lay the foundations to move toward better philanthropic practice now and into the future.

Of the 70 Foundations approached to join this journey, the Foundation is indebted to the 9 ambitious, courageous, and generous PIPP members who accepted this invitation to join the Menzies Foundation.

Purpose is crucial for developing the essential attributes of leadership, including resilience, empathy, adaptability and provides the foundation from which to navigate the challenges of an increasingly complex, global, tribal, and digital world.