Australian Philanthropy and the Economy
20 October 2008 at 3:29 pm
Philanthropy Australia held its annual conference in Sydney last week and President, Bruce Bonyhady spoke about the current economic crisis and its effect on Australian philanthropy.
Here’s part of what he said in his plenary speech entitled: The Future of Australian Philanthropy: New Uncertainties and Opportunities
The recent turmoil in the banking system and in financial market has created new uncertainties, but there is cause for optimism because the Australian economy is well placed, the growth in philanthropy in recent years creates a higher base from which to give, and there will be many new opportunities for philanthropy.
For trustees, it will be essential to refocus portfolios on sustainable growth assets and there will be new opportunities and threats from some of the flow on effects from the recent events and climate change.
Trustees will also need to understand changes in the boundaries between governments, the corporate sector and the Not for Profit sector.
The trend towards new regulation will need to be tempered by a recognition that regulation itself has costs, and must be purposeful and not burdensome.
There should be new opportunities for partnerships between government and philanthropy, especially for foundations with the self-confidence and the desire to maximise their impact in the long-term.
Inter-generational transfers and community values rather than economic growth will be the driving force behind the growth in philanthropy, and we will all have the opportunity to inspire new philanthropists.
Corporate leadership will be tested as the profit outlook weakens and there are simultaneous demands for increased corporate community investment.
All foundations will have need to continue to improve their effectiveness, and technology will be an important enabler.
Indicators of well-being are likely to grow in stature in the future and, as in financial markets, social policy is likely to focus more on managing risks.
Asian economic leadership will eventually be reflected in Asian leadership in philanthropy. It is vital that we recognise, listen to and learn from the Asian experiences and are open to external traditions and innovations.
Finally, although this may not be a time when we can rejoice in unbounded and unlimited growth, we can recognise the opportunities it presents. While giving in times of prosperity is rewarding, philanthropy in lean times is even more vital.
We have the chance to harness our passion and purpose and to make this the opening of a new chapter in Australia’s philanthropic history, one in which our response to crisis is not to hold back or to stifle innovation but to find new and creative ways to navigate through difficult economic and social circumstances with courage, wisdom, passion and purpose.