Investing in Rural Community Futures

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Investing in Rural Community Futures is a place-based program focused on strengthening the capacity and capability of grassroots not-for-profit organisations in rural, regional and remote New South Wales. The Vincent Fairfax Family Foundation (VFFF) and FRRR will partner to provide grants, capacity and capability development support to at least three communities or regions.

Investing in Rural Community Futures recognises the fundamental role that local NFP organisations play in building and sustaining the social and economic fabric of their communities. It responds to the challenges these groups experience in managing their sustainability and viability, and subsequently the contribution they make to addressing local challenges and opportunities.

The program will work with three rural communities in New South Wales over a five-year period, offering a toolbox of support including access to grant funding, planning and facilitation support, skill development, knowledge and experience sharing, and resources to strengthen the capacity, capability and ultimately, effectiveness of the local not-for-profit sector in supporting the vibrancy and wellbeing of their communities.

The program has four key priority areas:

1. People – leadership, succession planning, volunteer recruitment and retention, training and development.

2. Not-for-profit structure and internal systems - legal compliance and capability, human resources, finance, policy and procedures, small scale infrastructure.

3. Strategy - developing organisational plans and strategies, fundraising and revenue, accessing opportunities that are fit-for-purpose to that organisation or group of organisations, implementing key capacity building initiatives identified in NFP's strategy.

4. Efficiencies – coordination and collaboration of activities, networking, creativity and responsiveness, collaboration within the NFP sector, sharing of resources.

The program will be formally evaluated and lessons shared with philanthropic, rural, and not-for-profit audiences to support leading practice and thought leadership. This partnership and program align directly with FRRR’s belief that local leaders are best placed to know what is going to make the biggest difference in their community. By supporting local solutions and using a multi-faceted approach focused on enhancing people, place and prosperity, the Investing in Rural Community Futures program aims to build resilient and vibrant communities.

Selecting the partner communities

The IRCF program ultimately seeks to work with communities over a five-year period, offering a toolbox of support. This could include access to a facilitator, grants, skill development, knowledge and experience sharing, and resources to strengthen community networks and foster social capital through community-led initiatives.

The diagram below outlines the process through which the final partner communities will be selected. Following comprehensive research and scoping of the project, FRRR developed criteria to build community profiles, which allowed us to shortlist the potential sites down to five. FRRR used a range of criteria, including previous information on unmet demand from communities, key targeted demographic data, and a desktop analysis of the NFP sector in each region.

FRRR has held a series of roadshows in the towns of Tumut, Leeton, Junee, Nambucca Heads, and Moree to learn about the not-for-profit sector in those communities, their challenges and opportunities, and interest in and readiness for this program. We are now ready to provide Start-Up grants to the five short-listed communities to fund key foundational activities that assist in preparing their expression of interest to participate in the five-year program or address key not-for profit organisational capacity needs.

IRCF Program States

Start-Up grants

FRRR and VFFF seek to invest in projects that support a strong community sector within these communities to make a shift from surviving to thriving across the community.

The following five short-listed communities are invited to apply for IRCF Start-Up grants:

1. Tumut
2. Junee
3. Nambucca Heads
4. Leeton
5. Moree

FRRR is currently working with these communities to scope projects and identify how they can collectively maximise the use of these funds. The projects should fund key foundational activities that support their expression of interest to participate in the five-year program and key not-for-profit capacity needs. 

This program is tailored to each of the five roadshow communities, recognising that a single approach may not work for all. The geographic boundary of communities is being self-determined by each local not-for-profit community sector. The table below outlines the types of initiatives IRCF Start-Up grants could focus on, which align to the priority focus areas. These are indicative only.

IRCF Strategic Priorities

A total pool of $60,000 is available to local not-for-profit organisations in each of these communities for projects that align to the priority focus areas detailed in the table above.

Only community organisations from the Tumut, Junee, Nambucca Heads, Leeton and Moree regions are eligible to apply for grants under this program.

  • Investing in Rural Community Futures Start-Up Grant Program Guidelines (May 2019)

After reading these guidelines, applicants should speak with the IRCF Program Manager Alli Mudford at FRRR prior to submitting an application:
free call 1800 170 020 /

For more information on submitting your application via FRRR's online application portal Grants Gateway, please refer to the following documents:

Next steps

Grants will be awarded in September 2019. We will then call for an expressions of interest from these five shortlisted communities to select the three final locations that will partner with FRRR for the five-year period. Once these communities have been determined, FRRR will co-design the delivery of the program with these communities. This will involve developing a community capacity plan and associated resourcing and delivery needs.

If you have questions at any time, email the Program Manager, Alli Mudford.

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