CEO Maree Sidey shared her thoughts with Generosity Magazine about the recent events in the US and the importance of philanthropy as an expression of democracy in action.

It has been an interesting week to reflect on what makes a country ‘great’. 

Watching the US wrestle with this question over the past few months has been compelling. As the hubbub dies down I have been wondering what the takeout is for Australia?

Does being a ‘great’ country mean wielding power on the world stage, or is it about the opportunities afforded to its citizens to achieve their full potential?

It appears Americans have decided that greatness is about living in a country that prioritises individual achievement.

That being great is about getting to the top and accumulating personal wealth.

Despite flirting with some systemic changes that offered greater support to the majority, it looks as though America will return to its comfort zone, where the aspiration of the individual ‘dream’ is prioritised over investing in the wellbeing of the collective.

Watching events unfurl has been a stark reminder that democracy is not an abstract concept. We can be as engaged or disengaged in the political process as we choose.

We can use our voice, we can blog, we can tweet, we can write, petition, protest, lobby and advocate. Alternatively, we can use our time, we can volunteer, organise, socialise, network, work or care.

And we can also use our resources—we can give.

Giving is an essential part of a healthy democracy. When you decide to give, you are making a choice about how you would like something to be, you are also making a decision to use means within your disposal to help achieve that vision.

Australian Communities Foundation (ACF) is home to people who have a vision for a more equal, more just, fairer and less divided Australia. As active and engaged citizens we believe in social, economic, environmental and cultural justice for all Australians.

This means that we care about ensuring that Australia has a strong and healthy democracy. We are concerned about policies that impact on who can and who can’t come into this country.

We are disturbed about the huge gap that remains in access and equity for Indigenous Australians.

We are alarmed at the increasing divide between rich and poor in such a privileged nation and we want to ensure that our environment is not further deteriorated.

Since we opened our doors 20 years ago, ACF has distributed $56 million on behalf of our donors to thousands of causes working to improve outcomes for all Australians.

In December, we’re proudly launching our Impact Fund, which will focus on issues of national concern such as Empowering Indigenous Communities, Strengthening Democracy, Tackling Poverty and Addressing Climate Change.

This is democracy in action and we invite you to join us in that journey.

You don’t have to be rich, you don’t have to have all the answers, you just need to commit to building a greater Australia through philanthropy.