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David Thomas sets new record on environmental philanthropy

July 18th, 2016

In an Australian first, entrepreneur and philanthropist David Thomas, has pledged the bulk of his wealth to philanthropic causes, the majority of which will go to environmental not-for-profit groups.

With donations made during his lifetime, David's total giving to the Australian environment will exceed $60 million, making him Australia’s largest environmental philanthropist.

Following the successful sale of Cellarmasters, his mail-order wine business, to the Foster’s Group in 1998, David and his late wife Barbara established The Thomas Foundation in support of conservation, education, medical research and the arts. 

David said he hoped that his contribution would stir change in the collective Australian mindset to support not-for-profits.

He had always planned to give away half the Foundation’s wealth through grants and the remaining half through bequests.

Leading conservation organisations including The Nature Conservancy and The Pew Charitable Trusts have worked hand-in-hand with The Thomas Foundation to achieve the Foundation’s goal to stop the decline of biodiversity in Australia. 

David has also worked closely with the AEGN and has been a great supporter of our work.

AEGN CEO Amanda Martin, said “The environment receives less than 5 percent of all philanthropy in Australia, which does not reflect the high level of importance that people place on nature for their well-being, for fresh air, food and water, and for our economic prosperity. We believe that David’s wonderful commitment to solving major environmental issues facing Australia will be a clarion call for others to look more closely at what can be achieved.”

The story behind David’s passion for environmental grantmaking is told in this video.

“A donation to environmental care is an investment for eternity," he says. 

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In conversation with Daniel Lee of the Levi Strauss Foundation

In conversation with Nicole Richards at the Philanthropy Meets Parliament Summit, Daniel Lee shared his insights on topics including the role of philanthropy as a driver of systems change which addresses root causes of social challenges, the relationship between philanthropy and government and what the new political environment in the United States means for philanthropy.

Watch video