Celebrating 30 Years: Issue 1

2007 marks the 30 year anniversary of Philanthropy Australia. Throughout 2007, we’ll be marking the occasion by sharing snapshots of philanthropy in Australia that encompass both its present state and its history.

This page will be updated regularly, with a new issue each fortnight including the sections:

  • Important Moments in Philanthropy Australia’s History Including our achievements and growth over the years.
  • Recognising Philanthropists Recognising the importance of individual donors and personal acknowledgement of their achievements in the philanthropic sector.
  • Foundation Focus Profiling philanthropic foundations past and present.
  • Great Grants Profiling groundbreaking or simply inspiring philanthropic grants that have been made throughout the years.

We look forward to working with our Members on producing this celebration throughout the year, and encourage Members to contact us if they have any particular items in mind that would fit well in the sections listed above.

Please email Emily on e.turner@philanthropy.org.au if you’d like to contribute!

Pat Feilman and Meriel Wilmot on the cover of Issue 3 of Australian Philanthropy Journal

The Beginning of Philanthropy Australia

On December 1, 1977, The Australian Association of Philanthropy was established. Its creation was spurred on by two seminars in 1971 and 1975 sponsored by The Myer Foundation and The Ian Potter Foundation, with figureheads Pat Feilman (Executive Secretary of The Ian Potter Foundation 1964-2001) and Meriel Wilmot (Executive Officer of The Myer Foundation 1961-1982) leading the drive and subsequently coming to be known as “The Godmothers” of the AAP.

According to Ms Feilman, “The Association rose out of disappointment that there was little interaction between philanthropic trusts… So many trusts were buried within trustee companies.” At the time, three or four trusts were meeting on a regular basis, considering applications, and Ms Wilmot felt that this was very beneficial, leading to more “professional philanthropy”.

The aim to “increase the level of professionalism” in philanthropy became a key role of the Association. In 1989 Ms Wilmot was discussing the tendency of Australian philanthropic trusts and foundations to “play their cards extremely close to their chests… They all wanted to do their own thing, believing they knew exactly how it was done.” One of the solutions to this, Ms Wilmot said, was to encourage these organisations to “look at philanthropy as a profession as well as an industry”.

In addition to these goals to encourage philanthropic giving to become more pro-active and professional, the main reason cited for the establishment of the Association was for trusts to support each other and share knowledge garnered through experiences in “the difficult art of giving”. It was also recognised that the community itself would benefit from cooperation between philanthropic trusts.

In 1980 the membership of the Australian Association of Philanthropy included 47 organisations. In 2007 our memberships now number over 300 organisations, businesses and individuals.

A part-time secretariat for the Association was set up in 1988, moving to full-time in 1996. Between 1997 and 2007, the number of staff at Philanthropy Australia grew to 10, and our permanent presence expanded to Sydney.

In 1997, The Australian Association of Philanthropy was renamed the more streamlined Philanthropy Australia.

While the mission and values of the organisation – to promote and encourage effective giving – essentially remain the same, the bar has been raised. The implementation of information and communications technologies and the increasing profile of philanthropy have contributed to Philanthropy Australia becoming a dynamic, responsive, influential and growing association.

Jan. 24, 2007

 Tags: general, 30 year celebration

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