Giving Close to Home

March 29, 2018

Giving Close to Home

They encourage simply to give where you live, and when it comes to community philanthropy, the Buderim Foundation is leading the charge. With a goal to reach $2 million by the end of 2018, they are proving when it comes to charity, every dollar counts.

On the books of the Buderim Foundation charity is a donation for $23.50. The amount was gifted by two young boys, Charlie and Jack, who, armed with a basket of hand-picked limes set out to raise funds for the community group on Australia Day.

“You could say that’s just as valuable as $10,000, every bit helps,” says Buderim Foundation chair Russell Stitz.

“No amount is small if you’re giving it to someone else.”

And that’s exactly what the Buderim Foundation does. Since its launch in 2004, the organisation has donated a staggering $383,000 to 66 different charity organisations and not-for-profits that benefit the people of Buderim and surrounding 4556 postcode.

This year the foundation aims to raise $600,000 in 12 months through the 2018 Community Challenge, and with $30,000 donated in one week alone, that goal is well within reach.

Russell says what sets the foundation apart is how they manage their finances. Every donation is placed in a fund, with these funds then invested to generate income which is given as grants. With the administration costs covered by sponsors, all donated funds are never actually spent and the charity can continue to give forever.

At the moment, the corpus stands at $1.46 million, and the Community Challenge is about trying to increase that over $2 million so we can give out more grants,” Russell explains.

“The whole concept is to promote the 4556 community and its wellbeing.”

Russell, who started his role as chair of the foundation in September 2017, explains the concept as “money in, money managed and money out”.

“We have money in as part of donations or bequests; then we have money managed, which is our investment committee doing their best to create revenue as a result of investing that money; then we have money out, which is obviously the grants process and distribution,” he says.

The benefit these grants have on the community is widespread. For example, children at the Buderim kindergarten are learning about edible gardening through their own vegetable patch, while eagle-eyed visitors of the Buderim War Memorial Community Association hall would notice a newly renovated floor.

But just as important are the less obvious differences – the smile on a child’s face who was able to go to school in a new uniform, or the sense of belonging people get from attending the Alzheimer’s Australia support group.

In 2017, the foundation distributed more than $64,000 in community grants to the Suncoast Youth Orchestra, Buderim Horse and Pony Club, Fusion Sunshine Coast and Team Adem, to name a few.

“Although it’s called the Buderim Foundation, it’s actually the whole 4556 postcode,” Russell explains. “And from a philanthropic point of view, that doesn’t mean somebody can’t be given a grant from outside that, it’s just got to benefit the people in that postcode.”

An example is the Hear and Say Centre, while having headquarters in Brisbane and centres in Nambour, it still benefits the people from Buderim and surrounds.

Another key initiative of the foundation is their Back to School Program, which sees money donated by the Foundation for Rural and Regional Renewal (FRRR) put in to vouchers for families.

“They’re for people struggling to get school uniforms and books, and we either let the school itself or the chaplins identify the people in need,” says Russell.

While the foundation works tirelessly for the community, just as much effort is put in behind the scenes. Foundation members, including 12 members of the board, give their time voluntarily to better their local community.

“We have a number of different committees to achieve what the foundation does,” he says.

“In addition to that we appoint working groups, for example the 2018 Community Challenge has a working group chaired by Simon Whittle, a long-standing identity in Buderim.”

Russell himself is a relatively new face to the foundation, having recently relocated to Buderim from Brisbane, where he worked as a leading colorectal surgeon.

Throughout his career, Russell has held a number of esteemed roles including president of the Colorectal Surgical Society of Australia and New Zealand, president of the Australian Medical

Association in Queensland and he served on the board of the Wesley Hospital in Brisbane and Wesley Research Institute.

These positions, Russell says, helped equip him with the skills needed to spearhead the foundation’s projects.

“I don’t think the concept of philanthropy is as well developed in this country, but a lot of ordinary people give money which nobody hears about,” he says.

“I think here, philanthropy is more in the community, and we want to make that culture permeate the whole of society. If you donate one dollar a week, that’s $50 a year, and if every family on the Sunshine Coast donated that amount a year, imagine how much you’d have.”

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