John Phillips, Director of Advancement

According to the Webster Dictionary, philanthropy is defined, in part, as “goodwill to fellow members of the human race”. And in 2020, perhaps more than any other, we have seen this definition ring true on so many levels at Brighton Grammar School.

From the earliest days of the pandemic, the School rallied behind our community. From fee relief offered to our parents to support from our Bursary Fund, there were many examples of ‘goodwill’. Also, our Pink Angels Fund was called into action to help a number of families and Old Boys in need.

Whilst some in our community were doing it tough, there were others who were not as impacted and many BGS parents and Old Boys contacted the School to offer their financial assistance to those members of our community who were in need. And then there were parents who chose not to take the fee rebate but instead offered to direct this back to the School to support families requiring help. I am truly proud to be part of such a caring community.

The pandemic didn’t hamper our support of some very worthy causes either.  We remained a major sponsor of the RCD Foundation’s Connor’s Run and got behind this year’s event on an unprecedented level. I was delighted to note that the RCD Foundation was able to raise over $1.3M, the highest annual total to date. Our boys helped to raise much needed funds for Sleeping Bags for Homelessness in their goal to purchase 2020 sleeping bags for the homeless.  Another cause that we have assisted over many years, St Mark’s Fitzroy, received a significant amount of food donations via our Ute Full of Food initiative.

Friends of Music Piano Key Fundraiser was a sell-out with all 88 keys, foot pedal, and seat sold to generous members of our community?

This year, as you would expect, many of our mainstream philanthropic plans were put on hold. We decided not to hold a large-scale Annual Appeal, instead focusing on an Assistance Appeal, supporting current students who, due to their families’ significant change in financial circumstances, may not be able to continue their education at BGS.  We were humbled that many in our community chose to make a gift to this Appeal which supported our Bursary Fund.

Interestingly, this fund was established by Canon Wilson 80 years ago and was significantly augmented by ‘Sarge’ Brown in 1960 who endowed a gift in memory of his wife for ‘the purpose of enabling boys to remain at BGS despite their families’ financial difficulties’.  In recent years, the Bursary Fund has received a number of gifts including $200,000 from the estate of former staff member Keith Ferguson.

Our long-term goal is to ensure the capital of the Fund remains intact, using only the income earned to support families in need.  Although gifts into our Bursary Fund are not tax deductible, they all assist the School to deliver on this goal – and gifts are welcome at any time.

Did you know that 14 boys are now attending BGS because of the support of generous members in our community?

2020 also created an opportunity for the Development Office team to engage in new ways.  Many of our events went online including the annual Sequamur Society function which served as our opportunity to thank those who have chosen to leave a bequest to BGS in their wills. Our bequest program received significant attention during the year. Under the leadership of our former Head of the Junior School, Peter Toms, the bequest program booklet and website were reworked, making sure that we articulated our bequest program more effectively.

The Sequamur Society, which acknowledges those who have included BGS in their wills, has grown from strength to strength in recent years and now has 105 members – that’s 105 members of our community, Old Boys, past and current parents and Staff, who have made a commitment to leave a gift to BGS in their wills knowing that BGS boys of the future will benefit from their ‘goodwill’.

With 2020 now behind us, we certainly look forward to 2021 and beyond.  Whilst we remain committed to increasing the number of needs-based scholarships at BGS, we are also committed, perhaps even more so now that 2020 has progressed our thinking, to what the future might look like for our boys.  Soon you will hear about the most ambitious building project in the School’s history and we envisage that with the support of our community it won’t be too long before our boys enter the doors of our ‘Beyond Tomorrow’ Centre.

We are all extremely fortunate to be part of a community where ‘goodwill to fellow members of the human race’ is indeed embedded into our culture.

John Phillips
Director of Advancement


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