Grattan Institute is an independent, non-partisan public policy think tank. It researches and advocates for policy changes to improve the lives of Australians. This year Grattan celebrates its 15th year. Third Link spoke with Danielle Wood, Grattan Institute CEO to discuss its work and why philanthropic support like Third Link’s is important.

Of Grattan’s work, what are you most proud of?

I am hugely proud of the quality, rigour and impact of our research. Given our size, we pack a big punch.

Last year, our team of 20 researchers produced 15 reports, which were downloaded almost 45,000 times. We held more than 1,200 stakeholder meetings, including almost 200 with politicians and political offices. Our work was cited more than 100 times by politicians and government agencies.

We also channelled our resources into selling our message to the broader public. Our staff gave 263 speeches, published more than 150 opinion pieces in major newspapers, and our work was mentioned more than 40,000 times in the media.

We emphasise public advocacy in our work for two reasons.

The first is that there is an inherent value in adding facts and context to the public debate. In a media landscape that is increasingly shouty and riddled with mis- and disinformation, expert, research-based commentary on topical issues – presented in a way that people can engage with – is extremely important to rational policy debate.

Second is that publicly making the case for specific policy changes helps to shift hearts and minds. Major policy change is hard and often involves difficult trade-offs. People are much more receptive to change when the case has been publicly explained.

This leads me to the thing I am most proud of: Grattan’s capacity to positively influence public policy.

While successful policy changes have many ‘mothers’, there are so many policy initiatives and changes where Grattan played a key role in galvanising action. A couple of my favourites:

  • The NSW and Victorian Governments have so far allocated just over $2 billion in small group tutoring over the past three years to help school students who are struggling with reading and maths, in line with recommendations from Grattan reports.
  • This July, the federal government delivered major reductions in out-of-pocket childcare costs. They are also supporting an increase to 26 weeks of government-paid parental leave, including time set aside for dads and partners. Both changes improve choice for families and will catalyse the social and economic benefits associated with higher women’s workforce participation. Grattan has done a lot of research and advocacy to support these changes.

But these are just a couple of many examples. Policy enthusiasts can find a more comprehensive list at

How do you see philanthropic investment in policy research as unique from more traditional service delivery support?

Investing in policy research and advocacy requires a way of thinking about success and failure that is very different from the traditional philanthropic interventions such as service delivery.

Policy research is more uncertain and less linear in its payoffs. But on the flip side, if you can shift the dial on government policy your impact will be many, many times greater than philanthropy can achieve alone.

In mid-November, I will leave my role as Grattan Institute CEO, and I will do so with immense pride in an organisation that has achieved an oversized impact in improving the lives of Australians.

To find out how support from Third Link is helping Grattan Institute shape the Australian policy conversation, reach out to Grattan Institute’s Head of Philanthropy, Ant Clark, at or 0422 939 200.

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