By Bill Jolley
The purpose of this article is to give readers information about the Jeffrey Blyth Foundation, and to seek your consideration of making a donation or leaving a bequest to the Foundation to support the long-term sustainability of Blind Citizens Australia.
When Blind Citizens Australia was founded 45 years ago by David Blyth, Hugh Jeffrey and others, they worked hard to build the organisation and create change. They grew the membership and formed local branches; they challenged the existing norms and cultures that pervaded services and societal attitudes towards blind people; they advocated for new services and a more accessible environment; and eventually their cogent arguments for the very right to exist and speak for ourselves as a national consumer-based organisation prevailed.
As BCA consolidated internally, gained wide-spread acceptance and recognition, and took its place in the mainstream of organisations for people with disabilities, attention turned to ensuring the long-term sustainability of the organisation through a mix of recurrent funding from government, members and the broader community.
It was the long-held dream of Hugh Jeffrey that BCA should have the support of a perpetual endowment to enable it to give attention to priority issues determined by its board with the maximum possible autonomy; rather than operating subject to the constraints imposed by government contracts or grants from other sources. He and David Blyth formed a strong partnership to get something done about it.
Accordingly, the Jeffrey Blyth Foundation was established in 1995 by to create a capital base to support BCA’s work and independence. The Foundation makes regular contributions to BCA, with grants this year totalling $154,000.
In November 2017, the Association of Blind Citizens of New South Wales made a substantial contribution to the Foundation, on the condition that a sub-fund, to be known as the Shirley fund, be established. Dispersements from the Shirley fund were to be given in support of the work of the Association, or its successors in NSW and the ACT, or to other projects benefitting people who are blind or vision impaired in NSW or the ACT.
Later that year, the Association merged with BCA, which therefore became the successor-in-law to the Association.
The Foundation therefore has two funds:
- The General fund which may be spent for the benefit of blind or vision impaired people throughout Australia; and
- The Shirley fund which may be spent for the benefit of blind or vision impaired people in NSW or the ACT.
It is currently the policy of the Jeffrey Blyth Foundation that dispersements from these two sub-funds are confined to Blind Citizens Australia.
The Jeffrey Blyth Foundation is a public ancillary fund. As such:
- Gifts to the Foundation are tax deductible;
- The Foundation is required to regularly solicit donations from the public; and
- The Foundation must disperse a minimum of 4 per cent of its net assets to its beneficiaries each year. As chair of the Foundation, I am supported by fellow directors David Blyth, Ashley Blyth, Michael Simpson, Maryanne Diamond and Graeme Innes. Our funds manager is Shaw and Partners.
A donation or bequest to the Jeffrey Blyth Foundation is a great way to give long-term support to Blind Citizens Australia. The critical importance of the foundation’s grants to BCA is that they allow the BCA board full autonomy in setting its expenditure priorities. It lets BCA give attention to areas of need—be they membership support and development, critical infrastructure or policy campaigns.
Please think about the information shared in this article, and the ideas I have raised. I do hope that those of you able to do so will look favourably on donating to the Jeffrey Blyth Foundation, or remembering the Foundation in your will to continue BCA’s vital work when you are no longer able to do so.
For more information please contact us.