Give a little love
Australia’s philanthropists are giving more than ever. So what motivates an individual to donate to charity, and how has our nation’s culture evolved as a result?
According to the Giving Australia 2016 report1, an estimated 14.9 million Australian adults (80.8%) gave a staggering $12.5 billion to charities and non-profit organisations over 12 months in 2015-16. While the research revealed that fewer people are giving, those who are donating are giving more — an average of $210.16 more.
Who are Australia’s most generous philanthropists?
The list includes some big business names such as James Packer and Andrew ‘Twiggy’ Forrest — who was recently in the media for making a record-breaking $400 million donation to his selected charities and cancer research.
Then there are those who prefer to steer clear of the limelight, quietly handing over millions. Greg Poche has donated over $100 million to cancer research and indigenous health centres since selling his company Star Track Express in 2003.
The similarly low profile Alex Waislitz recently pledged over $50 million to social venture capital projects. Multi-generation domestic philanthropic families, such as the Myers, the Gandels and the Fairfax family have also been flying under the radar for decades.
The Giving Australia report lists ‘alignment with values and cultural identity’ and ‘caring about doing the right thing’ as the top two motivations for people to give. Philanthropy Australia CEO Sarah Davies agrees, saying that “generally speaking, the motivations for giving come from an intellectual or emotional experience, and being human. We’re tribal — we want to be part of a community. We want to be active agents in building our own experiences and those of others. It’s the power to create positive change. And once you realise that — it becomes addictive. ”
The Giving Australia report found that most of the country’s philanthropists view social services (63.7%), education and research (62.7%), and health (52.9%) as the most worthy causes.
Sharing is caring
Australia’s philanthropists are giving more than ever. What’s more, in recent years people have become far more open and celebratory about their giving — triggering a cultural shift and leading people to question how they could better use their resources for a more fulfilling outcome.
“There’s almost been a global shout-out: if you have wealth, then give. But more importantly, we’ve seen an increased celebration and acknowledgement about what can be achieved through philanthropy, which is just extraordinary,” Davies says.
The Giving Pledge
In August 2010, Bill and Melinda Gates and Warren Buffett created a group called ‘The Giving Pledge’for the world’s wealthiest individuals and couples to join together and commit to give more than half of their wealth away. It came about with philanthropists discussing how they could set a new standard of generosity among the ultra-wealthy. And some of Australia’s wealthiest, including Leonard Ainsworth and Andrew Forrest have made the pledge. So far, there have been 170 pledges across 21 countries.
“It is my great pleasure to provide this Giving Pledge commitment wherein I pledge to give at least 50 per cent of my wealth to charitable causes both during my present life and beyond. As a private person, I prefer to minimise publicity of my philanthropic activities but at the same time realise that setting a positive example is the best way to encourage others to give back.”
Leonard H. Ainswoth - the Giving Pledge website
Is sharing your wealth an important part of your financial plan? Then make sure you discuss your aspiration to give with your financial adviser.
1 Giving Australia 2016 philanthropy and philanthropists report — Commonwealth of Australia (Department of Social Services) April 2017.