Our Story (why we exist)

The need in Canberra 

The ACT is generally perceived as a relatively well-off community; however there are some concerning hidden realities about those with real need:

  • 1  in 200 people  are homeless, soaring 70% in the past five years to now be the second highest in Australia
  • 1 in 7 households struggle to survive on a minimum income
  • 1 in 4 young people will experience a mental health problem in any 12-month period
  • 1 in 6 young people have caring responsibilities
  • 1 in 25 people have severe or profound disabilities

While the government provides a range of services to these parts of our community, much of the assistance comes from Community Services Organisations.  These organisations need continued financial assistance to maintain and increase their capacity to address increasing demand.  This is where Hands Across Canberra makes a difference; providing donated community funds to those organisations supporting Canberrans in need.

Why create another organisation?

The Canberra community is generous and caring.  In times of crisis, such as after the 2003 bushfires, Canberrans have provided significant support to those in need, through both donations and volunteering their time.  However, many Canberrans who need our support remain hidden and organisations that provide day to day support to the community find it difficult to raise on-going financial support.

Hands Across Canberra is not a layer of bureaucracy or another cause competing for donations with established charities. Hands Across Canberra value adds to existing community service organisations by providing opportunities for collaborative marketing, building connections with the local philanthropic community, and providing hands on web-based infrastructure for organisations who can't currently process online donations.

Hands Across Canberra was established in part in response to a report commissioned by the ACT Directorate of Community Services in 2008.  This report (conducted by Urbis) showed that the ACT could do better at attracting local philanthropic donations to local organisations.  It concluded that:

  • There is great interest in philanthropy in the ACT
  • The majority of CSOs have received or are receiving philanthropic giving (mostly volunteering, small donations, grants, pro-bono)
  • There is a lack of awareness, skills and knowledge about philanthropy
  • Concern over the cost of seeking support involves a lot of money, time and energy from organisations which already do not have enough of any of that
  • Some have strategies in place, but most lack the resources to implement them
  • Current resources, tools and people in the broader community are available yet underutilised

Over the past decade, there has been a significant increase in the number of community foundations started, with now more than 30 in Australia