Key Points

This article investigates understandings of publicness in the context of public foundations in Australia by examining how perceptions of publicness inform and influence the practice and conduct of those grantmaking foundations. As part of a broader study on perceptions of accountability and identity in Australian foundations, the article provides empirical evidence from interviews with managers and trustees from a diverse group of public foundations suggesting that understandings and applications of two dimensions of publicness were significant: donations, or public money; and grantmaking, or public benefit. Further elements of publicness were expressed around foundations’ visibility and the transparency of their operations. In sharing learnings from foundation representatives and discussing perceptions and dimensions of publicness in public foundations from an internal perspective, this article also provides valuable insights for external stakeholders, including donors, beneficiaries, and regulators.

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Open Access