This report maps the field of ancillary funds in Australia. Public Ancillary Funds (PubAFs) are trusts that must fundraise from the general public, and make grants to approved nonprofit organisations. A majority of the individuals involved in the fund's decision- making must have a degree of responsibility to the Australian community (Ward, 2016). As stated by Ward (2012, p. 4), "the underlying concept of public funds is that the public are able and invited to contribute and the fund is operated in a public manner for public benefit". Although limited details of PubAFs are publicly available, there is no previously published data on this valuable but overlooked segment of Australian philanthropy. This report examines what is known about PubAFs and maps the field, with data from online databases and reports, PubAF websites, and interviews with PubAF managers and trustees providing extensive and useful insights. Seven taxonomic categories of PubAFs are described, and an accountability typology is proposed at a conceptual level to better understand this sector. Perceptions from PubAF managers and trustees detail how visibility and accountability within this charitable sub -sector might be enhanced, and implications for practice are noted. The eight framing questions around accountability revealed complex and inter-related patterns and practices of accountability. Most notable and novel among these findings were when PubAFs are accountable, why PubAFs are accountable, the dominance of peer-benchmarking as the standard by which PubAFs are accountable, and the emergence of organisational qualities as a way in which PubAFs are accountable. Findings also highlight a link between identity and accountability in PubAFs. There is a relationship between who we are, and how we give an account, such that the identity of an actor influences the account given. Notable emergent findings included the importance of geographic boundaries for PubAFs in shaping their giving and reflecting their mission, the varying interpretations of publicness, the importance and prominence of dyadic relationships, and PubAFs' strong future focus around sustainability and growth. For those PubAFs (typically community foundations and wealth management foundations) that have sub-funds or donor-advised funds, particular accountability issues were noted. Co-funding, or a funding arrangement whereby two or more funders combine to support a project or organisation, was common between sub -funds within a PubAF, achieving synergies and supporting and linking both their identity and accountability.
Examining accountability: Perceptions within public ancillary funds
by Alexandra Williamson
Jul 9, 2019