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Not for Profits Must Engage With Australia’s ‘New Wealth’


19 October 2011 at 10:48 am
Staff Reporter
New wealth, created by the resources boom or by information technology, is the changing face of philanthropy in Australia according to Australian of the Year Simon McKeon.


Staff Reporter | 19 October 2011 at 10:48 am


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Not for Profits Must Engage With Australia’s ‘New Wealth’
19 October 2011 at 10:48 am
Above: Australian of the Year Simon McKeon. (Image: Asha Griffith)

New wealth, created by the resources boom or by information technology, is the changing face of philanthropy in Australia according to Australian of the Year Simon McKeon.

Speaking yesterday at the 2011 Not for Profit Summit in Bendigo – McKeon told 300 Not for Profit sector delegates that this ‘new wealth’ created by Australia’s resources boom offers great opportunities for Not for Profit organisations – but first they need to learn and understand this wealth and the people that have it.

McKeon said a high percentage of Australia’s multi-millionaires and billionaires are self made: “they have done it themselves, and they have done it very quickly.”

McKeon told more than 300 people at the forum that many traditional sources of philanthropy (such trusts and foundations) were established during another Australian resources boom – the Victorian gold rush. He said these organisations are guided by rules and guidelines, and their patterns of giving are highly-developed.

McKeon said Australia’s new wealth is just starting “the giving journey – their giving is more emotional and less developed. These people are yet to align themselves with causes and they need approaches from the community sector that work for them.”

He says there is enormous wealth in Australia and most of it is tied up in private families, who want to keep a low profile. He said the Not for Profit sector needs to learn and understand about this new wealth and the people that have it.

He said they are new to the ‘joy of giving’, and it is up to the sector to find ways to introduce them to it.

Limits to Corporate Philanthropy

The prominent Macquarie investment banker said there are limits to the amount of money the Not for Profit sector can expect to get from corporations. “After all corporations are there to return dollars to the shareholders,” he said.

Q and A panel at the Not for Profit Forum (l-r): Lynne Wannan, Director, Office for the Community Sector; Suzanne Teace, CEO, Great Connections; Cath Smith, CEO, VCOSS; Simon McKeon, Australian of the Year.

He said it is very difficult for corporates to justify giving more than 1% of their after-tax earnings to Not for Profit organisations, no matter how worthy the cause.

“High profile businesses in Australia are picked over by the community sector, with some organisations only able to fund one out of every 400 applications. Big corporates are a tough place for a NFP to go looking for money unless they have a reason to excite the corporate,” he said.

McKeon said the NFP sector need to think differently about the way they engage with the business world, and move beyond just looking for cash. They need to think about skilled volunteering and partnerships, and what they can offer the corporates, to turn the relationship into a two-way street.

McKeon says there is a lot that businesses can get from the NFP sector – not the least of which is a big dose of passion.



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