US Private Giving Field Trip 2014: Overview

Philanthropy Australia’s 2014 Private Giving US Field Trip to New York City and Washington took place over seven days from Sunday 26 October.

Louise Walsh, Philanthropy Australia CEO, and Louise Burton, State Manager - NSW & ACT, and Field Trip Project Manager, led an eager group of 24 Members to New York and Washington for the first study trip of its kind for Family or Private Foundations.

Our members immersed themselves in the experience, embracing the packed schedule which involved intensive meetings and site visits to gain insights into some of the world’s most successful foundations.

We learnt best-practice and thought-leadership from some of the most progressive foundations in the world, including:

  • Rockefeller Brothers Fund
  • Ford Foundation
  • FB Heron Foundation
  • Einhorn Charitable Trust
  • Edna McConnell Clark Foundation
  • Andrea and Charles Bronfman Philanthropies
  • Peter Buffet & NoVo Foundation
  • Non-Profit Finance Fund
  • Clinton Foundation

Our evenings were action-packed as well. We were hosted by the Deputy Consul General Richard Leather for drinks at the Consul –General’s residence and spent Halloween at the residence of Australian Ambassador, Kim Beazley AC with his wife Susie Annus in Washington DC – where we were treated to a viewing of an outstanding Indigenous art collection.

We had the privilege of enjoying an intimate dinner with Sir James Wolfensohn KBE, AO, an Australian-American lawyer, investment banker and economist, who served as the ninth president of the World Bank Group. Sir James shared his career success, commitment to philanthropy with his children and the glue that philanthropy provides to his family.

During the final day of the tour in New York members reflected on the implications of their learnings:

  • thinking bigger & more globally
  • potentially narrowing the focus of cause-areas they support
  • thinking more about the investment strategy for all their philanthropy
  • greater focus on impact investing and its potential
  • expanding the size and length of grants
  • thinking about loans more than just grants
  • aligning more strongly with the values of the foundation
  • succession planning
  • greater focus on ‘convening’ meetings of grant-seekers, potential funders and other foundations.
  • thinking more about ‘spending down’ as opposed to foundations in perpetuity

It’s inevitable we will see some or all of the Australian foundations collaborate or partner on initiatives together in the future. There will also be new exchanges of ideas and friendships between the New York based foundations and some Australian foundations.

Overall, we anticipate a new level of energy and inspiration from the Members who attended the Field Trip, which will serve to inspire others.

Philanthropy Australia has also identified some amazing talent to bring here for the benefit of the wider membership in years to come, including the 2016 Conference in Sydney.

Day One

Jenny Wheatley from the Vincent Fairfax Family Foundation​ reflects on what it means to be in the goose bump business of philanthropy in the country which gave away $335 billion in 2013.
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Day Two

Rachel Kerry from CAGES Foundation discusses the humility, insight and courage shown by the aristocracy of American philanthropy.
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Jenny Wheatley from the Vincent Fairfax Family Foundation admires the way the Rockefeller Brothers Foundation maintains the founding family’s values while tackling the big issues of Peace, Democracy and Climate Change. 
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Day Three

David Allen from Yajilarra Trust shares his thoughts on another influential day meeting leading US foundations.
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Jenny Wheatley from the Vincent Fairfax Family Foundation is reminded that all things in the USA are bigger and meets a unique Australian businessmen, Olympic fencer and cello player who understands the glue family philanthropy provides. Happily too, it seems working in philanthropy keeps you looking young…

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Day Four

Jenny Wheatley from the Vincent Fairfax Family Foundation talks about being encouraged to dream big and be bold as the Harlem Children’s Zone and The Clinton Foundation demonstrate what high expectations will deliver with the right leadership - and a handy rolodex …
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Kerry deLome of the James and Diana Ramsay Foundation reflects on the last day of the tour which started with a bang - visiting an incredibly impressive place based initiative, the Harlem Children's Zone (HCZ) program.
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Day Five

Jenny Wheatley from the Vincent Fairfax Family Foundation explores key learnings from the Exponent Philanthropy 2014 National Conference.
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Nov. 28, 2014

 Tags: us private giving field trip 2014

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