Helping build a stronger future for young Australians. Our 2024 Scholarship programs are now open.
Bringing together people who care about their communities
At Community Enterprise Foundation™ we offer communities and not-for-profit organisations across Australia the opportunity to raise and distribute tax-effective donations to benefit their own communities.
We’re committed to providing you with the expertise, tools and resources to respond to the current and future needs of your community.
Read our stories of people who are leading their communities through recovery towards a brighter and more resilient future.
Each year we award scholarships to community-minded students. You need to be studying at an Australian university, or TAFE campus for the first time.
Our 2024 Scholarship program is now open.
We’re here for your community and a local grant could make great things happen in your community.
A little about us
Profit for purpose
We are the heart of the Bendigo and Adelaide Bank
Our community-led approach enables organisations to better connect to communities to help build a prosperous nation.
Find out how we work with communities and ensure your donations are making an impact.
Community Enterprise Foundation | Profit for purpose
Fiona Beckwith, Appeal and Donor Manager, Community Enterprise Foundation:
The power of the Community Enterprise Foundation is that we're actually a part of Bendigo and Adelaide Bank. And Bendigo Bank is the most trusted bank in Australia.
David Impey, CEO Community Enterprise Foundation:
Our heritage started in the Bendigo goldfields, and that has been mission driven around feeding into the prosperity of communities. And 160 plus years on, we are still doing that with a profit for purpose focus.
Sharnie Curnow, Head of Social Purpose, Bendigo and Adelaide Bank:
I am a firm believer that organisations, particularly corporates, can and should be a force for good. Bendigo and Adelaide Bank is an organisation that is absolutely led by its purpose in supporting communities to both, you know, recover and build resilience.
Collin Brady, Community Bank Advisor, Bendigo and Adelaide Bank:
The growing movement of impact investing and social purpose is now language which permeates the private sector. And yet, the community bank model is an epitome of that. It just goes to show that profit and purpose can actually live very, very comfortable comfortably together, in fact, the model is, in its essence commercially focused, and community spirited.
Nan Caple, Director Community Bank East Ivanhoe, Community Bank National Council - Elected Member:
This is absolutely unique worldwide, and the beauty about this model is that it is based on broad local ownership, which gives the power to return profits back to the community that it's based in.
Fiona: The Community Enterprise Foundation is the philanthropic arm of the Bendigo and Adelaide Bank, but I think we are much more than that. I think that we are actually the heart of the organisation.
Sharnie: I think the power behind the Community Enterprise Foundation is absolutely huge. And I think it's probably the greatest untold story of, of Bendigo and Adelaide Bank.
David: Our role really is one of a facilitator to enable organisations to better connect with communities, under a community-led approach that'll allow self-determination. And what we are able to do through this vehicle is support communities to set their own agenda that ultimately builds a prosperous nation.
Fiona: Our focus as a foundation is around the outcome and the impact. It's about the projects, it's about making a difference.
Collin: It's like a rallying place, isn't it? It's a place where people can put their collective capital and have that utilised for the collective good of their local places.
Sharnie:E They absolutely operate under the ethos of outcome over ownership. And so they are focused on supporting others.
Gerard Kelly, Director Community Bank Surf Coast:
Effectively the foundation gives us the ability to generate or create a war chest of funds available to support the sort of projects that we wish to do in the community.
Fiona: Collaboration is how we partner with our local communities. It's really around listening and ensuring that we are really clear in the direction that the community wants to go with their fundraising.
David: So it's about creating connection between organisations and local communities. And as with our ability to work across hundreds of communities in Australia, it also allows us to provide on their behalf a collective voice around what that future looks like and the type of support they need.
Sharnie: It is fundamentally part of our DNA. It's just how we do business. So the opportunity to go and work with people that are purpose driven, deeply passionate, and, you know, we’re making great things happen, and we can see the evidence of that... the opportunity to live and breathe that, is really fantastic.
Collin: It's our purpose and the purpose of feeding into prosperity of communities, the opportunity to work with communities right around Australia, to be a part of their aspirations, to help them negotiate some of the programs and projects that they're looking to implement within their local places.
Gerard: So it's great to have the foundation there as that mediator in the middle to provide that strong partnership between the community bank and the broader community and they're an integral part of the way this whole thing will pull together.
Collin: There's programs big and small, but it's really the impact that it has on the individuals and the local community that really tells the story.
Nan: The Community Enterprise Foundation is an incredibly important robust organisation that has skills and expertise that they've garnered from the whole network.
David: What the Foundation and its trustee actually does is provide a really good governance structure. On the other side, it removes the administrative burden of local communities to focus on what they're really good at, and that is determining what those priorities are and where those funds should be spent.
Fiona: As well as listening to the communities, we also listen to our donors. We have really savvy donors that want to say in where the money goes. It's really important that we respect their wishes and that we make sure that the money goes to the causes that they want.
David: So when organisations or individuals actually provide donations to the foundation, there's always a sense of comfort and trust there that ensures there's an overlay of good governance to ensure correct use of funds.
Nan: They give a huge amount of transparency, And it's just the power of well-organised, well-structured, well-intended and well-governed partnerships that have benefited communities around Australia.
David: Our hope for the Foundation into the future is that our model, along with the community banks and the Bendigo Bank, is that we can take a unique approach to solving some of societal's largest challenges that we’re gonna face in the future.
Collin: Now what we need to do is to find a collective voice on opportunity. A collective voice on issues that matter for everybody, to give these communities an ability to impact, to have a say about how they continue to grow and develop.
Sharnie: What we want to create is an ecosystem that, supports one another. Our purpose is to feed into prosperity and not off it. What that really talks about is how do we collectively come together?
David: So my hope for the future is that we continue to build that community prosperity that empowers local communities to self-determine, and that in turn builds a prosperous nation.
Fiona: And that we are there for the future, that we continue to be the heart of Bendigo and Adelaide Bank, that we, we build, we build funds, we build a legacy, and that we are there for Australian communities.
Sharnie: It's also about how we connect with our people and, you know, hopefully create this really vibrant, amazing workplace where great things are happening every day.
Some of our stories
Mallacoota almost two years on ...
We all know about the devastating bushfires in Australia, and saw the scenes of Mallacoota locals on the beach waiting to be rescued. But do you ever wonder how they are going now?
This heart-warming video gives you a little insight into the wonderful work being done to give Mallacoota a great future.
And your donations are helping every step of the way.
Mallacoota after the fires
So Mallacoota is surrounded by Croajingolong National Park which is about 87,000 hectares. And it encompasses a range of vegetation communities and heaps of really unique flora and fauna species.
Leading up to the fires we’ve had a lot of drought, some moisture measurements were taken by DELWP before the fires came through, and the moisture content was about the same as in the Mallee.
That year was really bad for bushfires. And it was incredibly dry, we’d had drought for a few years and of course because of the dryness and the drought, we hadn’t been able to do a lot of fuel management. So the bush was ready to explode.
One of the things that impressed me straight after the fires, was the way the community embraced the idea of setting up MADRA, which is the community-based organisation. And one of the things that made us feel that we could go with that idea was the fact that the Bendigo Bank came behind us immediately, and offered its support, offered its financial advice.
That was a huge relief to us, that money that would come from donations and there had been a lot, would be in safe hands.
It’s really important to support local communities in crisis because we’re there for the local community. We’re part of it, and it’s part of our DNA.
So we’re there both after the immediate crisis and through the long-term to help and support the community grow out.
We’ve donated 4.3 million dollars into the local community and for the solar farm that is yet to be built.
Prior to the bushfires, Mallacoota was powered by a single line over 240 kilometres long. We have had many issues with outages. Our power went out over 24 hours prior to the fire actually arriving.
The solar farm is being built on East Gippsland Waterwaste Treatment plant, to provide sustainable energy to this community. So the solar farm with directly contribute to the length of time that our microgrid will sustain itself.
Without the contribution of the Mallacoota Community Bank, so many organisations in this town would be unable to do what they are doing. And without their support, our lives would not be what they are.
So nearly two years on after those catastrophic Black Summer bushfires the bush is regenerating really nicely. You just go for a stroll anywhere around town or the national park, and you’re seeing amazing regrowth. The wildflowers are absolutely incredible now. And it’s really awesome to see those species that we were a little bit worried about that may not recover after the fire are starting to recover.
We have people here who’ve retired, we have people here who are trying to set up businesses, we have people here who just want to to go fishing.
Mallacoota is a really unusual place. It’s a very beautiful place. That’s one of the reasons why people are here. That hasn’t changed. People want to be here.
People love to be here.
I’m very optimistic about the future. We want to stay living in a healthy, thriving, safe, community for the rest of all of our lives. And we are working to make that happen.
There’s a couple of really positive things that have come out of the community, as a result of the bushfires. One is a real resilience. There’s a growing optimism about those we reshape from here, given what’s happen to us. A tremendously positive community spirit has arisen, even though we’ve been through tragedy.
The dedicated volunteers at the Bega Showgrounds tell their emotional story.
During the devastating bushfires, they provided emergency evacuation assistance to their community. From this they have been driven to upgrade their facilities to provide an even safer haven in the future.
This video shows how a Community Enterprise Foundation Bushfire Recovery Grant can make a big difference. Our assistance is helping local volunteers and community provide ongoing natural disaster preparation.
We're helping communities making a real difference.
Stories of Social Impact | Bega Showgrounds
Charlie speaking: If we go back to the Tathra bushfires, it was a, a blustery Sunday afternoon and next thing I get this phone call saying, “There’s all these people flocking to the Bega Showground.”
John speaking: And they rolled up here not knowing what to expect, needing help. And it became a place where they got information, they got safety, and they got some comfort.
Charlie speaking: We fed them, for those who wanted to be fed. And they came in here to talk to the services, find accommodation, how to get compensation, if, if their, uh, if their house got burnt down.
JOHN At times there was even a strange sort of calmness. People felt safe but the big unknown was what were they going back to.
John speaking: What we saw with the Black Summer fires was, for a lot of people, completely unexpected.
Charlie: On the first of January, 2020, the smoke was so dense, you couldn’t see the hand in front of your face. This was made an evacuation centre. Our arena was full of caravans. People would come in with their small animals and we'd house them up in our animal nursery. Horses, we'd put in our horse stalls. Cos we were feeding, you know, hundreds of people every day. And we relied on these volunteers, including the campers here to help, uh, feed to all these hundreds of people everyday. So the whole community came together, to help those in need.
John: And it was very obvious that, while we helped a lot of people, the facilities just weren't good enough to do the job we needed to do.
Charlie: This was the heart of the community cuz everyone could come here and, um, they knew they'd come here and they, and they'd be safe.
Phil: We're at the Bega Showgrounds and for 150 years we've been having agricultural shows.
Charlie: The building behind me, that was built as the pavilion for the Bega Showground. There was a number of other buildings here then, but this structure is the only one to, uh, to be still standing.
Phil: And I can remember when I was a kid, the show was the biggest thing every year. We’ve had different animal events where things are judged, a lot of show jumping horses, kids’ events, a lot of entertainment, you know, give our crowd something to look for. My generation didn't travel. This was the area that we all headed to, you know, and it only came once a year.
Charlie: After the bush fires, the, the Federal and State government, decided they, they would like to fund those communities affected by the bushfire.
John: And that's what prompted the application for the, uh, Bushfire Recovery funds. And luckily enough, we got them.
Charlie: And because we were, uh, an evacuation centre, uh, twice, we got a grant of nearly $16 million to construct a new multifunction community centre. The pavilion, which is heritage listed, is not gonna be touched, but we're gonna demolish all the buildings above that and, and reconstruct it.
John: But once we get the building, we have to equip it, because in the blur funding, there is no facility for buying furniture and fittings.
Phil: When we started talking about this facility, something that was on my heart all the way through was making sure that we do the best job we can for those people who are living with disabilities.
Charlie: So that, that's why we've gone to the Bendigo Bank. It's been great that a local bank, the Bendigo Bank, has been able to come in here and, and help, uh, help, help funding some of those things we, we need to put in this new centre.
John: If we ever have to do it again, let's have a place where we can really make sure that those people who need help the most get exactly what they need.
Charlie: And even though this new development is functionally for an evacuation centre - it's a purpose-built structure, most of the time it's gonna be used, uh, by, by local groups.
It'll be a better facility, for the local community.
Phil: This will mean a lot to the Bega community. It will provide a meeting place for lots of organisations. And we are indebted to Bendigo Bank for making this grant available to us. And we are deeply appreciative of what you've done.
John: I'm really delighted to make this little contribution to our community. It’s nice to put a little bit back.
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