Why a Foundation for Sydney?

Creating change together since 2004

In 2003, Sydney philanthropists, local government and business leaders posed a question: How can we best give back to our city, supporting the health and wellbeing of its communities into the future?

The power of collective philanthropic action was increasingly clear. Other major cities nationally and globally had established community foundations. Sydney lacked the ability to support its local organisations and changemakers working hard for community cohesion.

So, following 12 months of wide-ranging consultation, Sydney Community Foundation was formed – a place for individuals, corporates, major foundations and Private Ancillary Fund (PAF) holders to give together to effect real change in our city. Over the past two decades, Sydney Community Foundation has evolved into an influential agent of localchange.

Our history

Since 2004, Sydney Community Foundation has dedicated itself to reducing inequities across our city. Collective goodwill and collaboration are at the heart of what we do. We tackle problems together with charity partners, and involve donors, corporates and governments.

For two decades, Sydney Community Foundation has guided philanthropic giving and advocated for change important to Sydneysiders.

We have raised and connected over $25 million for impactful community projects, big and small.

We work with grassroots charities, social innovators, philanthropists, donors, corporates, and governments to improve the lives of individuals and communities across Greater Sydney.

Collaboration is at the heart of what we do, because a strong, fair Sydney matters to us all. We believe that those closest to the issues are closest to the solutions and work with not-for-profits across Greater Sydney to make a difference where it matters most.

Our Foundation’s journey


  • Sydney Community Foundation founded with support from NSW Government, City of Sydney, Myer Foundation & Vincent Fairfax Family Foundation (VFFF)


  • Sydney Women’s Fund co-founded by Wendy McCarthy AO and Lucy Brogden AM to improve the lives of Sydney women and families.


  • Establishment of Sydney Community Foundation place-based philanthropy program focusing on Western and South Western Sydney

  • Twenty Years, Twenty Stories Project highlights the diversity and complexity of Sydney’s vulnerable communities in partnership with the Australian Human Rights Commission

  • The first Sydney Women’s Fund Portrait Research Report identifies under-investment in Western and South-Western Sydney women and families, and catalyses place-based program development

  • Inaugural Maybanke Fund Lecture ‘From Suffragettes to CyberFems’ delivered


  • The Marrickville community launches its place-based sub fund

  • First-of-its-kind NSW Government challenge grant secured to initiate place-based community-driven change in Western Sydney and South-Western Sydney

  • Community road mapping and launch of the Foundation’s place-based philanthropy program in Warwick Farm with local partner Liverpool Neighbourhood Connections

  • 2015 – RISE program developed to reduce school refusal in Claymore expands to 24 schools across Western Sydney and engages 150+ youth

  • Sydney Women’s Fund Portrait II Research focuses on the pressing issue of women’s safety


  • First Saluting Sydney Women Luncheon for Sydney Women’s Fund 


  • Parent’s Café refugee project in Fairfield recognised by UN as best practice in re-settling families displaced by Syrian war

  • Sydney Women’s Fund Sewing Circles support migrant and refugee women to heal from trauma, learn English and create employment pathways

  • Abel Dunn basketball court opens in Warwick Farm; a successful public, private partnership supported by Sydney Community Foundation

  • Baroness Corsten invited to present the first Empowering Women Changing Lives Breakfast and highlights the need to keep women out of prison


  • Keeping Women Out Of Prison (KWOOP) coalition launches and leads advocacy to improve outcomes for women and families affected by the NSW criminal justice system

  • DGR1 subsidiary establishment recognises the Sydney Community Foundation’s transformative place-based program achievements

  • IMPACT100 Sydney giving circle starts, making philanthropy accessible for everyone in our city

  • Sydney Airport partners with Sydney Community Foundation on annual Lost Property Auction, distributing proceeds to local charities


  • Sydney Women’s Fund Portrait III begins as a survey and captures the hopes, dreams and fears of Sydney women


  • Rapid response COVID-19 appeal delivers critical funds to keep grassroots charity doors open, and food on the table for families, during the pandemic


  • Be Kind Sydney Appeal empowers Sydney’s grassroots charities to fundraise alongside the Sydney Community Foundation during the extended lockdowns

  • Sydney Women’s Fund Portrait IV Research takes the pulse of Sydney women at the height of the pandemic

  • Launch of Sydney Women’s Fund ‘Women’s Work’ mini-doco series, highlights the financial inequities Sydney women face


  • Ukrainian Helping Hand Project, co-designed with Sydney’s Ukrainian community, helps resettle more than 3000 displaced women and children across Greater Sydney


  • Sydney Women’s Fund Portrait V presents longitudinal insights on women’s lives in Sydney

  • Sydney Women’s Fund Urgent Domestic and Sexual Violence Appeal launches, raising critical funds to support essential frontline services

  • Sydney Community Foundation celebrates its 20th anniversary

We’ve raised and connected over $25 million to benefit people in local neighbourhoods in Sydney

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