We spoke to Sue Salthouse to find out more about her giving journey and how she hopes to impact our communities through her philanthropy. Sue has worked in the area of social justice since 1996, playing an active role in the systemic advocacy for women with disabilities.

How long have you been involved in giving?

About 30 years, but I have only recently started a sub-fund with ACF, so this is the first time I have done something so structured.

Which causes and non-profit partners do you support? Why are these issues important to you?

I have a sub fund called Positive Futures. The aim of the fund, Positive Futures, is to support organisations that work to improve the sustainability of the environment and/or the well-being of those who live in it. It has particular focus on women’s issues, women with disabilities and other disadvantaged groups in society. As a paraplegic, but someone who has a privileged position in society, I am aware of the incremental positive change that can be achieved with relatively small injections of funding, and that those in the community services sector contribute far more than can ever be measured in dollar value.

What kind of impact do you hope to achieve or contribute to with your giving?

Positive Futures will select a charity to support each year and will give what I call top-up funding. That is the donation will be for the charity to use in whatever way aids their work, as I know that NGOs often need just that little bit extra funding – to pay for Auslan interpreters to make an event inclusive, or to print the resources that they have developed as part of another project, or just to finish off a project that didn’t quite have the amount of funding they needed. As a Director of several NGOs, I understand the value of funding that comes with no strings attached and that can be used at the discretion of the charity itself.

What’s been the most rewarding aspect of your philanthropic journey so far?

It has been so rewarding to see the first charity that I have selected, The Canberra Rape Crisis Centre, being able to immediately identify how a small amount of funding could be used. They will buy an iPad that can be used to communicate with non-verbal women they are counselling after an incident of sexual violence. I have also been thrilled that friends and family have responded so well to Positive Futures by supporting it, and also that it has prompted them to think about setting up something similar themselves.

Why did you choose to join the community of giving at Australian Communities Foundation?

I joined ACF to set up my sub-fund because it was the only organisation I was able to find that offered this type of charity vehicle suitable for an individual with a modest amount of money to invest. Then it was an absolute bonus to become part of a community and to have all the additional advice and resources, that are available to the ACF family. I am hopeful that one day I will be able to be in Melbourne at the same time as an ACF event and that I will meet some of the community in person.

What’s been the most valuable lesson you’ve learned so far as a funder?

I have learned that it is straightforward to set up a sub-fund, and I wish I had organised myself a decade ago, as this is a way in which I can structure my giving but still retain the ability to support a wide diversity of organisations.