The Importance of The Readings Foundation

Helen Garner, author and trustee of The Readings Foundation and Ingrid Josephine, grants committee member, reflect on the importance of The Readings Foundation, and talk on why you should apply for funding if you have a ground-breaking project based in Victoria that supports literacy, community and the arts.

helen_garnerHelen Garner says:

‘What I like best about being one of the Readings Foundation trustees is the new sense it gives me of an invisible, teeming, communal world out there – of people striving to be useful, to focus their energy in the form of highly practical projects. Each year, at our funding meeting, the applications show us a fresh map of a world where reading, writing and verbal expression are not things that can be taken for granted.

But rather than losing heart in the face of it, we’re excited each time to see how people bring their most imaginative and creative selves into this area of great need.

There’s a chasm between the quiet, benevolent space of a great bookshop and the harsh world that struggles outside its doors. Customers come to a bookshop to fill their own intellectual and emotional tanks, but sometimes, on their way out, they hesitate on the threshold. In its modest way, The Foundation is an antidote for the helplessness of that moment.’

Ingrid_JosephineIngrid Josephine says:

‘My friends are envious of my job at Readings. I’m surrounded each day by books, I work with people who love books (and music and film) and so it is a very inspiring environment to be in. Without sounding too crass, the main focus of my job as a marketing person is to turn books into money – and one reason why that is important is because Readings donates 10% of its profits each year to The Readings Foundation.

I’m very fortunate that my job allows me to help people and I am grateful that my job is not only about the business of marketing in a retail environment. I can isolate three clear days in the past three years that I can say without question have been the best days in my working life - I am the person who makes the telephone calls to the successful grant recipients.

Since the Foundation was established, it has made grants and donations totalling $395,756 to various projects and organisations and there is no greater sense of achievement and satisfaction in a days’ work than to be able to tell a person or an organisation that yes, they can run the project they have always wanted to, but never had the funds to make happen.

At Readings we are ever-grateful to our customers for supporting our bookshops so we can continue to contribute part of our profits to support The Foundation and give some much-needed funding to many organisations, groups and individuals who are doing great and important work in our community. We thank our customers for their contribution, through buying from our shops and donating for gift-wrapping, as well as accommodation window notices.

I think I can speak on behalf of the Committee and Trustees and say that we always wish we could do more; we read so many deserving project applications each year and sadly there is a finite amount of funding. If you were on the other end of the phone to the successful grant recipients each year as I am, your heart would swell with joy to know the real significance of that support.’

If you are an organisation or individual with deductible gift recipient (DGR) status and an idea for a ground-breaking project based in Victoria that furthers the development of literacy, community work and the arts, The Readings Foundation 2014 grand round is open now, and closes Friday 8 November at 5pm.

Find out more about previous projects and download an application form here.