A Community Foundation
Eleanor Cook is an organic beef cattle producer and a strong community advocate for the Coolah district and for regional communities. She was instrumental in securing $1.5 million worth of community development funds for Coolah which provided for the Heritage Restoration Program, the Community Technology Centre and the Healthy Living Program.
Eleanor’s Award ambition was to establish a Community Foundation, to minimize the fund raising effort required by smaller rural communities, and provide a system where individuals, families and businesses could bequeath or donate funds to their chosen rural community or to a specific project within a community.
Eleanor undertook research into a number of different models, including the Macro Melbourne, the Buderim Border Trust and Tomorrow Today Benalla in Victoria and the de Le Hunte Shire model in South Australia. She also used the Bursary to attend the 2007 Philanthropy Australia Conference in Albury, the annual conference of executives of philanthropy foundations from across Australia.
Eleanor found the task of establishing a community foundation to be significantly more complex than first anticipated, in particular the intricacies of tax laws and the importance of setting up the correct structure initially for the long term success of the entity. She concluded that a feasibility study and a lot more research would be required to compare the structures and objectives of existing foundations; to determine which best fits the needs of isolated rural and regional communities.
On a personal level Eleanor was accepted as a participant into the Australian Rural Leadership Program, which she has found immensely challenging. The Award created the opportunity for her to work with the Graingrowers Association to engage more women in the grain industry. In addition the media and public speaking opportunities had were valuable to her personal and professional development and to the profile of the Award.