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Former Olympian leading the way for Australian Community Foundations, Ian Bird

We are delighted to welcome Ian Bird, the new CEO of Community Foundations Australia (CFA), to the Purposely Podcast.

In this episode, Ian shares his vision for the future of Australian community foundations, drawing from his extensive experience as the former CEO of Community Foundations of Canada and his remarkable career as an Olympic hockey player. Interestingly, Ian represented Canada in field hockey at the Australian-hosted Olympics in 2000 in Sydney, as well as in South Korea. Having played hockey from a young age, Ian speaks passionately about his love for the sport and the camaraderie it fosters.

A natural leader, Ian began his career in Vancouver and later founded the first youth Field Hockey club in Quebec, called Chelsea Phoenix Field Hockey, where he also served as the head coach. Under his guidance, the Quebec team achieved multiple national championships.

During his tenure as the CEO of Community Foundations of Canada from 2011 to 2020, Ian Bird proved to be a transformational leader. He oversaw the organization's evolution into a "network of purpose" by fostering collaboration with various sectors and addressing diverse priorities, including reconciliation with Indigenous communities, gender equity, social finance, and evolving patterns in giving.

Ian's primary goal as the CEO of CFA is to expand the reach of community foundations across Australia. Currently, only slightly over half of the Australian population has access to a local community foundation. With more than 40 community foundations already established, Ian aims to build upon the existing strength and vision within the network. He firmly believes that Australian community foundations have the potential to leapfrog ahead in development by incorporating Indigenous peoples' experiences from the start and drawing on the Australian ethos of directness and openness.

Ian Bird is a champion for inclusivity in Australian community foundations. His vision revolves around creating opportunities for those who may not typically participate. He aims to develop a network that ensures all Australians have access to a community foundation, fostering self-determination and empowering communities to generate funding and solutions on the ground. By building a strong network of purpose, community foundations can address local issues and collaborate on challenges that transcend any one community, such as climate change and housing challenges.

Ian draws inspiration from the success of the community foundation movement in Canada, which has a rich history spanning 100 years. He highlights the importance of highly trusted local institutions that allow neighbors to witness and participate in giving. The Canadian experience has shown that having a tangible place to make a gift accelerates the pace of giving and creates a social messaging that encourages more philanthropy. Ian aims to replicate this success in Australia by leveraging existing infrastructure and fostering partnerships with private funders, universities, health authorities, and other civil organizations.

Ian believes that the current moment presents an opportunity for Australians to create a different future by sharing resources and building a true community support infrastructure. By fostering grassroots-driven change and community-based self-determination, Australia can become more resilient and effectively address pressing issues with a fresh perspective. Ian's vision aligns with the shared agenda of political leaders across parliamentary parties, emphasizing the power of collaboration and collective action.

Out Monday 22 April 2024


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