Philanthropy Australia launches Women’s Giving and Philanthropy initiative   

Patricia Burke OAM, Senior Advisor, Engagement & Philanthropy, Philanthropy Australia Fri, 8 Mar 2024 Estimated reading times: 4 minutes

As people across Australia gather to mark International Women’s Day, Philanthropy Australia celebrates by launching our Women’s Giving and Philanthropy initiative. Women’s philanthropy has emerged as a distinct area using innovative and creative methods to improve local, national and global communities. Pat Burke OAM, Senior Advisor at Philanthropy Australia and a key driver of this initiative, explains how it aims to grow and support women’s philanthropy with resources, research and inspiring stories as a key part of our mission to support ‘more and better’ giving.

Visit our new Women’s Giving and Philanthropy webpage

We know that women’s giving is important through the positive impact women make in their communities and to the many causes they support. So why now? Women’s giving is at an exciting point in history with the rise of women’s wealth, through the increase in women’s philanthropy and giving, and through the growth of community-based giving groups made up of committed women donors and volunteers. 

The Australian Financial Review (AFR) reports that in the year prior to March 2024, the wealth of the country’s top 75 richest women has increased by 30%. It is deeply inspiring to note that a good number of women on that list are engaged in philanthropy and giving – and are leading the sector in many areas already. It is heartening to see that several are also members of Philanthropy Australia. We know that a rise in wealth often leads to an extension of philanthropic efforts, engagement and impact.

Patricia Burke OAM, Senior Advisor, Engagement & Philanthropy, Philanthropy Australia

We also know that giving is not contingent on being wealthy and that is one of the reasons why the reach of women’s philanthropy goes far and wide. Research shows that women like to focus on giving at the grassroots level. They also like to collaborate and learn at a connected level about causes to which they give, in order to address them effectively. The rise of financially accessible structures, such as giving circles, highlight that high wealth is not the driver of women’s desire to change society for the better.

Outside of considerations of whatever we consider as wealthy, we know that women give a higher proportion of their salary than men and volunteer at a greater rate. Despite many women struggling to see themselves as philanthropists – something we hope to change – it is clear that women are giving their treasures, time and talents in a highly significant measure.

“Women’s philanthropy is on the move in Australia, as it is around the world. And we are committed to supporting women’s giving – helping to connect and grow women’s giving is a key element in our mission to inspire ‘more and better’ giving.” This is the message from our CEO Jack Heath AM, delivered at the Sydney Women’s Fund International Women’s Day Breakfast earlier this week.

The energy and enthusiasm of this movement will be supported via our Women’s Giving and Philanthropy webpages with resources, research, inspiring stories and blogs, and links to organisations supporting women, their giving and philanthropy. It’s a start, and we will continue to build the suite of resources as we gather more information. So come inside, click around, connect and learn, and help us contribute to the growth of women’s giving.

As a women’s giving circle founder and a long-term Philanthropy Australia staffer with giving in my DNA, I bring a deep commitment to the advancement of women and girls – and women’s philanthropy. Through this initiative, I hope we can create opportunities for women to grow their giving, to join networks to connect and learn from each other. And that through their giving, we create a better Australia for all.