Proctor : May 2018
50 PROCTOR | May 2018 QCF – What’s that? The gift that keeps giving to those in need Since my departure from the Court of Appeal, kind and curious lawyers and erstwhile judicial colleagues often inquire how I am filling my time. A complete answer would require a lengthy monologue. My activities include the occasional speech, French lessons, keeping fit, reading (not law-related subjects), patronage of three organisations, perfecting the soufflé, travelling, day-time attendance at movies, plays and concerts, two university law school appointments and more. Mention any of these newfound pleasures and there is always lively conversation. But when I say how much I am enjoying my role as chair of the board of governors of Queensland Community Foundation (QCF), all too often even senior lawyers and judges respond, “QCF – what’s that?”. This Proctor article is needed, I reckon. After all, QCF turns 21 this year. Time for it to be taken seriously now it is a grown-up! I often tell QCF patron Mike Ahern AO that he did two great things for Queensland. The first was his commitment to implementing the Fitzgerald Inquiry recommendations, “lock, stock and barrel”. The second was establishing QCF, a public charitable trust. Every student of equity knows what that means: tax deductible donations from the public become part of a permanent capital fund, the income from which is used for charitable purposes forever. QCF only requires that the recipient charity have Deductible Gift Recipient (DGR) status. The fund is prudently invested and managed by the trustee, the Public Trustee of Queensland, presently Peter Carne, a former president and CEO of the Queensland Law Society (QLS). The trustee is advised on investment matters by Queensland Investment Corporation (QIC), one of Australia’s leading investment advisers. One especially attractive feature for donors is that, since QCF’s inception, generous sponsors (presently QIC and the Public Trustee, and until recently Anglo-American) have covered all QCF administrative and marketing costs. This means that every cent of every dollar donated goes to the charitable capital fund. Another special feature of the QCF model is that, while it has a substantial general fund of over $9 million which last year gave almost $300,000 in grants to charities in Queensland, QCF is also an umbrella organisation for other funds. These sub-funds, usually with minimum seed capital of $50,000, may be established by charities; through bequests in wills; or by any philanthropic individual, family or organisation, including law firms. Funds are often named after the donor or in memory of a loved one. Income from sub-funds may be designated for a specific charity or type of charity, for charities to be determined by the trustee, or for charities chosen each year by the donors. QCF has more than 200 sub-funds. They include the Cancer Council Queensland Fund which began with $10,000. It has grown to more than $5 million and is still growing. Another is the Patrick and Dorothy Woolcock Medical Research Fund which was established in 2001 with $2.7 million and has already provided $2.2 million for ground-breaking research. A favourite of mine is LawRight’s Civil Justice Fund (CJF), of which I am patron. Imagine if lawyers, judges and community members left enough bequests to CJF so that, in time, LawRight could ensure access to justice for disadvantaged Queenslanders, independent of the fickle whims of government. As QCF’s generosity is aimed at making the whole of this vast state a more cohesive society, we have regional sub-funds to encourage Queenslanders to give where they live. QCF takes on the substantial administrative burdens of establishing and maintaining the sub-funds and that income is also used to ensure the true value of their capital, and that of the general fund, is not diminished by inflation. QCF’s original capital seed funding of $300,000 in 1997 has grown to over $86 million today. Last financial year, QCF distributed more than $2 million to a wide range of charitable organisations across this vast state. Over the past 20 years, QCF has shepherded more than $20 million to charities from the Gold Coast to Cape York Indigenous communities. No wonder it is the envy of other states which are now trying to emulate it. The trustee is assisted in his duties by a skilful board of governors which I am honoured to chair. It is presently made up of Inspiring Cities Pty Ltd managing director and former Brisbane Marketing Pty Ltd CEO John Aitken, Rowland managing director Helen Besly, former QUT Vice-Chancellor Professor Peter Coaldrake AO, BDO business services partner and Prince Charles Hospital Foundation chair Bernard Curran, former QLS president and former QCF board of governors chair Dr John de Groot, former Governor of Queensland the Hon. Leneen Forde AC, Queensland Investment Corporation (QIC) CEO Damien Frawley, QIC portfolio manager – retail partnerships Melissa Impiazzi, and former Crime and Misconduct Commission Commissioner Dr Margaret Steinberg AM. The board has established regional committees to promote QCF and its regional sub-funds and grants. QCF encourages philanthropy in the Queensland community generally, not just those who give through QCF. At its annual lunch during Philanthropy Week, in partnership with the QUT Business School and Australian Centre for Philanthropy and Nonprofit Studies, QCF presents awards to those who have made an outstanding philanthropic community contribution. These are known to many in the sector as the Philanthropy Oscars! Categories include Corporate, Small-Medium Enterprise, Community, Emerging, and Higher Education. Embracing the need for creativity to inspire philanthropy, QCF has an annual Philanthropy in Focus Photo Challenge for the professional or amateur photographer who best uses the medium to capture the positive impact of philanthropy on Queenslanders.