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5 min read

Making a different difference: donkey wheel

Australian Communities Foundation’s Advisory services provide additional support for trusts and foundations, including tailored packages for private foundation clients, such as donkey wheel.

A prescribed private fund and charitable trust, donkey wheel was established by the Brunner family in 2004, with a view to supporting and nurturing the changemakers who have the potential to create a new world.

“The thing I value most about working with Australian Communities Foundation is that it’s full of people who have a deep understanding of the for-purpose space,” says Paul Steele, CEO of donkey wheel Foundation.

“I’m grateful that I don’t have to explain things over and over – they understand this space because it’s their core business, whereas a lot of accountants and lawyers don’t understand the nuances.”

Paul has been at the helm of donkey wheel since 2010, and admits he is passionate about “making a different difference that leads to systemic change”.

We’ve always been agnostic about which areas we work in, but at heart is the knowledge that if we want to make the world a better place, we need great changemakers to do it.

Supporting the changemakers

Since its inception, donkey wheel has played the long game, taking a systems view of change with a particular interest in initiatives that have the capacity for scale or replication.

“We’re more focused on the environmental conditions that facilitate success, rather than the successes of single projects or organisations,” Paul explains.

With this in mind, donkey wheel regularly supports intermediary organisations that work with the changemakers on the frontlines. This has included organisations such as The Difference Incubator, The Australian Centre for Social Innovation, Foundation for Young Australians, Australian Progress and Ethical Property Australia.

Providing bespoke support to established trusts and foundations is an area of expertise for Australian Communities Foundation’s Director of Engagement & Advisory, Olivia Clark-Moffatt.

“All our ACF Advisory services are designed to be of maximum benefit to our clients,” Olivia says.

“Whether they need support with compliance issues, grantmaking or administration, we offer options from light touch to full-service packages to fulfill their needs.”

Olivia says donkey wheel occupies a unique space in Australia as a profound changemaker and supporter of changemakers.

“There are very few organisations that take such an open-minded and creative approach as donkey wheel to supporting the potential to create a better world,” she says.

“One of the ways we’re able to support that approach is by providing compliance support that lifts the administrative burden off the donkey wheel team so that all their energy can stay in the creative and liminal spaces where they’re able to get results.”

That support has helped donkey wheel stay focused on “the slow, hard work” of ecosystem building rather than “quick wins”.

“We’re not under any illusion that everything we try will work,” says Paul.

“But if we don’t think different and act different, we won’t be able to make a different difference.”

Find more information about ACF Advisory services here or contact Olivia Clark-Moffatt, Director of Engagement & Advisory, to find how this support can help your trust or foundation.