The purpose of this policy is to ensure schools plan for, manage and administer philanthropic partnerships in accordance with Department requirements and principles relating to philanthropic partnerships.


  • Schools must refer any philanthropic offer over the amount of $250,000 to the Regional Director for management and decision making.
  • Philanthropic offers below $250,000 may be determined and managed by the principal.
  • School staff and school councillors are advised to manage all philanthropic engagements and partnerships in accordance with the Principles of Collaborative Behaviour outlined in this Policy.
  • This Policy is consistent with the Department-wide Policy Statement on Public-Philanthropic Partnerships (Word)External Link .


Philanthropists and not-for-profit organisations are playing an increasingly important role in supporting Victorian students and young people. They can enhance the Department’s service provisions by bringing extra funding and expertise and acting as broker to expand the Department’s access to donors and networks. Offers for philanthropic engagements and partnerships for schools can take a variety of forms. They may come at a low level of contact through networking and information sharing or they may be formal and highly structured proposals requiring agreements to reflect significant commitments from key parties.

A monetary threshold of $250,000, which covers both financial and in-kind contributions proposed to be made by the philanthropist, has been set for schools.

Above the threshold

Schools must refer the offer for a philanthropic engagement or partnership to their respective Regional Director, who will assume decision making responsibility.

Typically, offers for philanthropic engagements and partnerships which could be expected to exceed the monetary threshold of $250,000 include:

  • school infrastructure
  • professional development programs
  • scholarship programs.

Below the threshold

Schools may decide for themselves whether or not they wish accept the offer for a philanthropic engagement or partnership.

Offers for philanthropic engagements and partnerships made directly to a school typically fall below the monetary threshold of $250,000. The general principles of the Policy, to the extent to which they are relevant and applicable, should be applied to philanthropic partnerships and engagements even if they do not reach the Policy’s threshold value for progression to the Regional Director.

Examples of such offers include:

  • bespoke programs (for example, speech pathologist or counsellor)
  • monetary contributions
  • school maintenance
  • ‘in-kind’ contributions of goods and services
  • individual scholarships
  • contributions to building and, or library funds

When considering whether or not to accept an offer for a philanthropic engagement and, or partnership, the following questions should be considered:

  • is the offer consistent with the Department’s values and goals?
  • who is making the philanthropic offer to the school?
  • what type of contribution is being offered to the school?
  • what would be the role of the school?
  • would accepting the offer require an inordinate commitment of time and resources from the school?

Principles of collaborative behaviour

School staff and school councillors are advised to adopt the following engagement practices for building effective and sustainable partnerships.

Create the right environment — engage early and act openly

  • Engage early when the potential idea or interest is first being considered.
  • Explain the Government’s policy environment and how the Department or government school works.
  • Agree on the problem to be addressed through the partnership.
  • Consider how solving the problem contributes to shared values or objectives.
  • Move beyond seeing partners as donor or service operator, and appreciate other possibilities they may bring.

Shape partnerships and build relationships — understand the sector

  • Understand the philanthropic and not‑for‑profit sectors, their roles, policies, priorities, practices and limitations.
  • Communicate any operating differences between the school and other partners.
  • Be clear about expectations, roles and responsibilities while remaining flexible in making adjustments to accommodate changing circumstances and opportunities as they arise.
  • Convene the right people to the table, especially those with the seniority or authority to make decisions at critical junctures of the partnership.

Set out clear protocols for decision making

  • Agree on an appropriate decision making process, having regard to the requirements for transparency and accountability.
  • Communicate openly and frequently throughout the partnership.
  • Document the history, context and development of the partnership.
  • Put in place a robust handover process to achieve seamless transition whenever staffing or structure changes occur during the partnership.

Agree to an evaluation approach

  • Agree to a set of measures for success and the evidence required.
  • Agree to an evaluation framework and provide for the necessary resources needed for the evaluation.
  • Consider sustainability issues early and develop a funding plan or exit strategy as appropriate for the partnership.

Criteria for maximum value from partnership agreements

Deriving value from partnerships goes beyond simply building positive relationships with external partners, and is central to the Department’s and government school councils’ legislative obligations to maximise benefits for Victorians through their disposition of public resources. Achieving this objective depends on a disciplined approach to weighing the costs, benefits and risks associated with partnership agreements.

School councils must follow these negotiation and collaboration criteria for deriving value from a partnership agreement with a philanthropist or not‑for-profit.

The partnership must have the underpinning of a clear value proposition

  • Make outcomes for the school’s students a focal point of the agreement.
  • Shape the agreement to align with the school’s strategic focuses and priorities.
  • Shape the agreement for solving a well-defined problem or achieving well-specified outcomes.
  • Shape the agreement to provide mutual benefits for partners where the added value to the school is over and above what it could achieve on its own.
  • Shape the agreement to deliver greater benefits than costs to the school, where costs include all contributions or resourcing requirements, committed and contingent over the life of the agreement.

The partnership must include adequate management of risk

  • Consider and manage any strategic risk that the agreement may, or may appear to, influence or divert the school council’s effort away from school, departmental and Government priorities and directions.
  • Do not commit the school council beyond their budget.
  • Do not cause the school council or school staff to breach, or appear to breach, their legal and regulatory responsibilities.
  • Manage probity and reputational risks that may expose the Department or the school to unnecessary public outcry.

The partnership must demonstrate procedural transparency and openness

  • Apply a rigorous process to assess, justify and record key considerations and decisions.
  • Set out terms and conditions of any significant agreement in writing to be duly signed by the principal or school council president, or both.
  • Undertake proportionate, evidence-based evaluation of costs, benefits and risks associated with the proposal to justify its progression or acceptance.
  • Secure proper authorisation of any significant agreement.
  • Apply a vetting process to verify the satisfaction of any relevant policies, directives and due diligence requirements (refer to Related policies below).


For the purpose of this Policy, philanthropy means to donate money or in-kind support for a particular purpose or cause. It differs from a sponsorship arrangement because there is no exchange of benefits between the parties involved.

Department policy on planning, managing and administering philanthropic partnerships

Reviewed 13 April 2023

Policy last updated

15 June 2020


  • Schools
  • School councils


Manager, Targeted School Services Unit Statewide programs and Tech Schools

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