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The People’s Choice Top 10 Gifts Announced

29 October 2013 at 10:16 am
Staff Reporter
A small donation to establish an “intermediate hospital” for low income patients in the Melbourne suburb of Richmond last century has won the People's Choice vote for the top philanthropic gifts of all time.

Staff Reporter | 29 October 2013 at 10:16 am


The People’s Choice Top 10 Gifts Announced
29 October 2013 at 10:16 am
A small donation to establish an “intermediate hospital” for low income patients in the Melbourne suburb of Richmond last century has won the Peoples’ Choice vote for the top philanthropic gifts of all time.
The establishment of the Epworth Hospital in the Melbourne suburb of Richmond has won the People's Choice Award.

The gift enabled the establishment of the original Epworth Hospital. The vote followed the announcement of the Top 50 Philanthropic Gifts of All Time launched in Melbourne earlier this month revealing a rich history of ‘giving’ in Australia.

The public was asked to vote online for their favourite gift from the Top 50 line-up. Almost 8000 votes were cast to decide the People’s Choice Top 10 gifts on the Pro Bono Australia-hosted website.
Back in 1920, a donation of £6,000 by Sir Aaron Danks led to the purchase of the palatial 13-room mansion in Erin Street, Richmond. Renovations to convert the mansion into a Methodist hospital cost £3,324, part of which was donated by a local GP, Dr Georgina Sweet and her father, in memory of their mother and wife Dr Margaret Sweet who died during the 1919 influenza epidemic.
The establishment of the Epworth Hospital was the popular winner followed in second place by a turn-of-the-century philanthropic gift to South Australians via the Wyatt Trust. 
English Surgeon Dr William Wyatt was motivated by witnessing some of the early South Australian settlers struggle through hardship and poverty, as well as overcoming his own personal adversity.
For the past 126 years the Wyatt Trust has supported South Australians in need by providing tens of thousands of grants ranging from £5 to more than $2 million.  
Third place went to the more modern day establishment of the Human Rights Law Centre in January 2006. The HRLC became the first legal centre in Australia dedicated to human rights law. 
It was funded from a combination of donations from the R E Ross Trust $15,000, Victoria Law Foundation $80,000, PILCH $70,000 (using funds provided by National Australia Bank), Helen Macpherson Smith Trust $35,000, National Australia Bank $25,000, Allens Arthur Robinson $10,000, Mallesons Stephen Jaques $10,000.
Representatives of the Myer Family Company, The Myer Foundation and Sidney Myer Fund, Pro Bono Australia, Swinburne University and Philanthropy Australia joined together to showcase Australia’s top philanthropic gifts following an exhaustive public nomination process.
“The Top 50 Gifts celebrates Australia’s most significant philanthropic achievements from the 1800s until today,” Head of Philanthropic Services for the Myer Family Company, Peter Winneke, said.
“Each gift has been responsible for shaping Australian society, culture and public policy in areas including the arts, environment, health, housing, science and education.”
Many of the gifts celebrated are from well-known names such as The Ian Potter Foundation, Dame Elisabeth Murdoch AC DBE, Vincent Fairfax Family Foundation, Sidney Myer and former Greens leader Dr Bob Brown, while others are from lesser known names, including a gift of $150 from three friends to set up the Tasmanian Land Conservancy.
“By sharing and celebrating the unique gifts and achievements, we hope to inspire all Australians to give,” Winneke said.
“The Top 50 list highlights the fact that philanthropy is not about the dollar amount of the gift, but the long-lasting impact the gift can have. Philanthropy can be a powerful change agent, and a family foundation can be an extraordinary educational tool for the next generation.”
Projects funded by the gifts include the Heart Foundation, the Walkley Awards, the Parkes Telescope, St Vincent's Institute of Medical Research, the Australian Indigenous Mentoring Experience, the No Interest Loan Scheme (NILS) and the establishment of the Royal Botanic Gardens in Melbourne.
“Hosting this voting process delivered some wonderful discussion around philanthropy in Australia,” Pro Bono Australia Founder Karen Mahlab said. 
“The Top 10 is a popular vote and we know that many organisations mobilised their social media and contact networks to generate the great support for their causes.
“You dont have to be a Myer or a Murdoch to give. Anyone can do it – as the legacies of these pioneering givers have shown. You just need passion for a cause and a dose of risk-taking to start something worthwhile and innovative.
“Pro Bono Australia’s annual Guide to Giving allows those who want to give, timely access to organisations at the coalface of the Not for Profit sector doing good work.”
Here’s the Top 10 People’s Choice Philanthropic Gifts of All Time:

Staff Reporter  |  Journalist  |  @ProBonoNews


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