A year of giving points to potential

For more philanthropy

Australian philanthropy has responded to the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic with only a slight downturn on the previous record for donations, according to the latest analysis of national giving.

Overall giving in the twelve months ending to June 30, 2021was calculated at $942 million, two per cent down on the previous year, the annual Australian Financial Review Philanthropy 50 list reveals. 

The list, which was released this week, identifies 13 new members joining a well-known group of names – including the Paul Ramsay Foundation, the Minderoo Foundation, the Yajilarra Trust, and the Lowy Foundation and family as the nation’s leading givers.

Last year’s giving total is only marginally below the previous year’s record total of $964 million. And this year’s total includes 20 donations worth more than $10 million, including Olga Tennison’s $45 million bequest to LaTrobe University to fund autism research and a $25 million bequest to JewishCare from the estate of Julianna Lowy.

At the top of the list was $143.1 million from the Paul Ramsay Foundation, reflecting a range of commitments to help break the cycle of disadvantage in Australia. The Minderoo Foundation gave $109.7 million to fire and flood resilience, cancer collaboration, environment, early childhood and ending slavery. The third-largest giver was the Yajilarra Trust with $104.1 million for First Nations, climate change and disability.

Completing the top 10 givers for the past financial year were: the Lowy Foundation and family ($69.8m); Estate of Olga Tennison ($45m); The Ian Potter Foundation and Cultural Trust ($28.8m); Pratt Philanthropies ($28.4m); Kinghorn Foundation ($26.2m); Estate of Julianna Lowy ($25) and Three Springs Foundation ($22m)

Philanthropy Australia Board member, compiler of the list and co-founder of JBWere Philanthropic Services John McLeod said that large-scale private and corporate giving had responded to the challenges of the bushfires and the pandemic.

“The doubling in giving since our first list six years ago and the 13 new names this year, including five large bequests, shows the growing spread of philanthropy and hints at the potential for much more,’’ he told the AFR magazine.

The minimum donation to be on the list is $4.4 million, up from $4 million last year. Although the list contains many established philanthropists, trusts, and foundations, it also includes notable one-off bequests.

Included is $19 million from the estate of Melbourne pharmacist John Perrett to the Royal Melbourne Hospital’s department of nephrology. Mr Perrett was born at Sunshine, in Melbourne’s western suburbs, and ran a pharmacy in Main Road West, St Albans. Mr Perrett’s donation reflected his long-held gratitude to the renal unit at the Royal Melbourne for his kidney transplant three decades ago.

Former University of Sydney classical archeology professor Alexander Cambitoglou’s left $6 million to the University’s Australian Archeological Institute of Athens.

Professor Cambitoglou AO was born in Thessaloniki in 1922 and became the first person of Greek background to be appointed to a university professorship in Australia. He was an antiquities collector who established the Australian Archeological Institute of Athens in 1980.

The list also included $7 million from the estate of Patricia McDonald, a former employee of the National Museum of Australia, who left the institution a legacy to help build a new interactive education centre, which will bring together First Nations knowledge systems with the Museum’s scientific research. It will also help support a separate grant program.

Ms McDonald had worked as the Australian Museum’s Education Officer for 35 years, earning a modest salary and living in house in Greenwich, on Sydney’s lower North Shore. She became an education pioneer, introducing school loans cases with real museum specimens (or ‘Museums in a Box’), helping to drive the first Education Centre in any natural history museum in the nation. Later, she oversaw the introduction of the Australian Museum Train, which travelled around NSW for more than a decade, sharing exhibitions and educational resources with new audiences. Nowadays, the Museum’s Education program reaches 150,000 students a year.

One of the new members on the list is Three Springs Foundation, established by Redbubble co-founder Martin Hosking and his wife Loreto. The Foundation donated $12 million to Monash University and $10 million to the University of Melbourne to establish Australia’s first contemplative studies centres. The Monash facility is called the Monash Centre for Consciousness and Contemplative Studies, and the University of Melbourne facility is called the Contemplative Studies Centre.

Another new entrant is the Allan and Gill Gray Foundation, which was established in 2015. The family had started their philanthropic journey in 1979 when they created a trust, to support organisations working in South Africa on the nation’s social and economic needs. More recently, the Foundation has helped support education initiatives across the globe.

For further coverage of the Top 50 List click here.

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