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Rebecca Huntley

September 08th, 2022

“[T]he first thing we need to do, especially coming out of COVID, is show how the local can connect with national, regional and international approaches and how we have that join-up approach to solving social problems.’’

Rebecca Huntley, Independent Consultant

It’s been my great privilege to work with a range of philanthropic organisations throughout my career…. there’s lot of things you can do and lots of things you are doing. It’s wonderful to see the Federal government recognise the critical role that you play, and I think with more and more creative responses to our social problems we going to get rid of this problematic view that some people in the public have, which we’re all here for a tax break, and that continues to be said, so I think there’s a lot to be said about how we communicate the role of philanthropy plays in creating a better society. Let’s talk about the things you can do.

Like I said, the first thing we need to do, especially coming out of COVID is show how the local can connect with national, regional and international approaches and how we have that join-up approach to solving social problems. I think understanding is increasing of this very welcome approach that various governments are taking to this idea of wellbeing….I think that’s a fantastic development and one which philanthropy can find a way quite easily to slot in to, to support and augment that government focus on wellbeing and make sure it’s embedded….I think we also need to find a way – and I know this is also something Philanthropy Australia is really committed to – is to communicate the broad spectrum and reach of philanthropy. What’s obvious in my work with Australians is that people are the beneficiaries and engaged in various forms of philanthropy. They just don’t call it that. They just don’t see philanthropy affecting their day-to-day lives, making better or that they themselves are participants in. I think we still have this idea of the philanthropist as somebody in a suit and a cigar, saying: “Let’s give them a million dollars!’’I don’t know what people think a philanthropist is. I’ve no idea but I know it’s probably not the people in this room and I think there’s things are being done about that and I think more could be done, particularly in the context of the commitment of the Federal government to increase philanthropy.

And I think every organisation in this room has a role to play not just in addressing the climate crisis but the extraordinary opportunity for every community to thrive and to do well in a society that deals effectively with climate. And I think that in some ways the organisations that weren’t conceived as organisations or foundations addressing climate can play a more important role in thinking about how climate can be applied to the work that you do. There is going to be a new generation of people under 30 who might be employed by you or employed by large organisations that can contribute or indeed [will be] future philanthropists who will all care about climate change. It will be part of their DNA. 

This is an edited extract from a keynote address at the Philanthropy Australia national conference 2022.

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