The Geelong Community Foundation was established in 2000.
The idea of establishing a Community Foundation in Geelong was first considered in 1997 through United Way Geelong (now Give Where You Live). The United Way Board felt that there could be support in Geelong to develop a significant fund with a permanent capital base, which if invested well, would grow substantially. A portion of the annual income could then be used to make charitable grants. It was felt that a fund would be of great benefit to the Geelong Region.
Geoff Neilson, who at that time was a partner of Day Neilson, was requested to head up a committee to investigate the Community Foundation concept both in Melbourne at the Melbourne Community Foundation and overseas in North America and Europe. After due consideration and community discussion it was decided to proceed and form the Geelong Community Foundation to cover the City of Greater Geelong, the Surf Coast and Golden Plains Shires and the Borough of Queenscliffe.
The Foundation was publicly launched in December 2000 and a number of those on that initial Committee became board members with Geoff Neilson being the founding Chairman. Andrew Lawson, previously a campaign chairman for United Way and a Past Chairman of the United Way Board, was asked to assist with starting the foundation as Executive Officer.
In those early years, it was known that Ken Stott, a local, wished to ensure that his assets stayed in the Geelong community. He wanted his money to be able to give people a hand when they needed help. Geoff Neilson offered Ken Stott the opportunity to become a donor to the fledgling Foundation and Ken responded by making an initial donation of $2 million. Following that first donation he made further gifts and since that time his fund with capital growth has increased to around $11 million. Ken passed away in October 2005 and his name will live on forever as the inaugural and a major named fund donor in the Foundation. The Foundation, and the community generally, are very thankful for Ken’s great initiative.
The Geelong Community Foundation was one of the first community foundations established in Australia and is now one of the top three in terms of funds held.