Exploring Christian Faith and Values
Overview of Year One
“Nearly every young person before reaching adulthood comes to a point of decision about religion. When he faces up to it, he solves it in one of several ways: – by avoiding a decision and accepting a state of drift, by positively deciding to set it aside, by continuing formal observance and remaining in doubt, by consciously continuing his “search”, or by finding his own terms for accepting a duty to God and endeavouring to expand a spiritual understanding through faith.”
– Sir Vincent Fairfax, “Along the Scouting Trail” in Scouting New South Wales newsletter, August 1968.
The Christian faith was a central pillar of Sir Vincent Fairfax’s life and character, providing purpose, a robust ethical framework and the basis of care for others. VFFF continues to honour this aspect of Sir Vincent’s legacy through the Exploring Christian Faith and Values focus area.
VFFF’s potential impact in this focus area is high given the small number of foundations who publicly fund in this area. Sector consultation undertaken in 2019 informed a more targeted funding approach, with a clear focus on our two funding outcomes:
- Young people gain knowledge of and interest in Christian faith
- Young people have positive, engaging experiences that encourage their participation in Christianity.
In FY22, VFFF conducted a review of our recent Christianity funding to ensure our approach remained relevant to young people. This process identified common characteristics amongst those grantees consistently delivering the strongest faith exploration outcomes for young people. These organisations all have:
- Strong demand from young people with sustained high levels of youth participation
- Strong governance, sound processes and organisational capacity to work at scale
- Growth mindsets with a breadth of activities supporting young people’s faith journey.
Over many years, VFFF has seen the value of providing organisations with funding towards their core operations. This type of flexible funding covers organisational and administrative costs such as salaries and overheads that maintain the everyday operation of an organisation.
Looking forward, we envisage that our annual Christianity funding will be characterised by a small number of large, multi-year core operations grants. Supporting the core operations of those organisations with the identified characteristics for success is a recipe for high impact granting, enabling more young people to make life choices informed by an understanding of Christian faith and values.
Alpha Australia, $830,000 over three years
Building the capacity of the Alpha Youth team to support faith exploration by Australian young people
Core operations funding to support the continued growth of Alpha Youth.
Australian Fellowship of Evangelical Students (AFES), $450,000 over three years
A new approach to reaching young people with the Gospel at university
Building AFES capacity to engage in fellowship and grow students’ Christian knowledge and faith at university.
VFFF Grants Committee
NET Ministries, $50,000
NET Ministries marketing refresh & content creation
The development of digital content to promote NET Ministries and enhance their service delivery in Catholic high schools.
Questioning Christianity, $50,000
Building the capacity of Questioning Christianity
Towards the employment of an additional speaker, digital resources and administrative assistance.
Highlight: Peer to peer faith exploration
The Alpha team’s strengths in digital reach, social media and online marketing came to the fore throughout the COVID period, supporting Alpha’s continued growth throughout 2020 and 2021. This provides a solid base for further online growth and effective hybrid delivery models. Building on this, Alpha sought VFFF’s support to further increase the capacity of the Alpha Australia youth team with an ultimate goal of seeing over 100,000 Australian young people gain knowledge of and interest in Christian faith from 2022-2024. Additional to the overall outcome of participant growth, VFFF’s multi-year $830,000 core operations grant will back Alpha to improve the quality and sustainability of their youth program, by:
- Increasing the capacity of the Alpha Youth team and organisational systems
- Continuing to develop strategic partnerships to further the work of Alpha Youth
- Increasing the quantity and quality of student-led Alphas and expanding Alpha in Schools
- Improving coaching, training and developing new content for Australian audiences
- Elevating Australian youth voices to further centre the voices of young people in program design and delivery.
With a high quality team of young people and a commendable organisational focus on strategy and tracking and reporting outcomes, the Alpha team is well placed to facilitate young people’s exploration of the basics of Christian belief.