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Australia Ahead of UK in Gender-wise Philanthropy


Thursday, 1st May 2014 at 11:30 am
Lina Caneva, Editor
Australia is well ahead of the UK in forming civil-sector partnerships and placing a gender lens on philanthropy, visiting philanthropic campaigner Dame Julia Cleverdon said in an oration hosted by the Lord Mayor’s Charitable Foundation and Women Donors Network.

Thursday, 1st May 2014
at 11:30 am
Lina Caneva, Editor


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Australia Ahead of UK in Gender-wise Philanthropy
Thursday, 1st May 2014 at 11:30 am

Australia is well ahead of the UK in forming civil-sector partnerships and placing a gender lens on philanthropy, visiting philanthropic campaigner Dame Julia Cleverdon said in an oration hosted by the Lord Mayor’s Charitable Foundation and Women Donors Network.

Dame Julia Cleverdon speaking on the Community Impact of Investing in Women and Girls. Photo: Daniel Mendelbaum
Dame Julia Cleverdon with Lord Mayor's Charitable Foundation CEO Catherine Brown. Photo: Daniel Mendelbaum.

With a reputation for developing cross-sector partnerships and improving the quality of leadership and teaching in schools, Dame Julia was listed by The Times as one of the 50 Most Influential Women in Britain.

In the UK, she is the Vice President of the Business in the Community, Chair of Teach First, a Special Adviser to The Prince’s Charities and Chair of The National Literacy Trust.

In an oration entitled The Community Impact of Investing in Women and Girls, Dame Julia said one of the initiatives she was most looking forward to looking at when coming to Australia was the “energy network” between the Lord Mayor’s Charitable Foundation and the Women Donors Network.

“I have to say you are well ahead of us in managing to get together civil partnerships,” Dame Julia said in the oration.

“I am taking back [to the UK], on the creative sweeping basis, every single thing, absolutely everything, you’ve done on the gender lens network because I don’t think we’ve got that working nearly well enough.

“There are some things going on but I think the idea of putting the gender lens on our investment through giant foundations and corporates – I think that it is an idea that’s time has come in the UK.”

Speaking to Pro Bono Australia News after the oration, Dame Julia said she was very impressed by the Women Donors Network publication Gender-Wise Philanthropy: Strengthening Society by Investing in Women and Girls.

“I don’t think I have ever seen in the UK, philanthropists talking about a gender lens, in the way in which this partnership between the Charitable Foundation and the Women Donors Network is obviously now,” she said.

“I was very impressed by the publication and they are obviously going to go on and begin to see what the philanthropy world is doing with a gender lens…

“The stuff I have not seen in Britain, and maybe I am out of touch, is I haven’t seen a philanthropic lens or gender lens on philanthropy, given I spend a lot of my time dancing around schools I am pretty sure that if there was one I would have heard about it.”

However she said that although Australia was well ahead in some areas, she would like to see more collaboration between corporates in Australia.

“I’d love to see examples of corporates working together on common issues,” Dame Julia said.

“Some of the things that Andrew Forrest is doing – getting pledges or offerings for indigenous employment – that’s great. But I would like to see some other things. Corporate partnerships with each other and with charities, I think that is where we’ll see a major difference.

“I would like to see more corporates spend more time, working the streets, understanding the issues, sitting humbly in these situations that they don’t frequently know much about.

“One of the transformational things that I have seen in the UK is business leaders spending more quality time with frontline charities, really, not just there for lunch and a launch and a logo but there to really get to the bottom of this issue.

“I suspect we need to see more senior management come on board at local level.

“Not necessarily in the central business district of Melbourne. I’d like them to get into a car and drive for at least an hour and  a half, they can have their dictaphone with them, they can do all sorts of things, they can be on conference calls the entire drive but I think some of the head teachers I was speaking to in the rural communities yesterday, they desperately need more engagement… the more hands [corporates] can get, the more pro bono you can get, the more you build it into the leadership development of young managers.”

Dame Julia said she thinks the future of philanthropy would be about “cross-dressers”.

“It will be about people who have not lived their lives in just one sector,” she said.

“I think great civil servants who spent time in the commercial world, great corporates who spent time chairing charities or being charity runners… The moving around these sectors is what helps these changes to happen.”

To view the Women Donors Network publication Gender-Wise Philanthropy: Strengthening Society by Investing in Women and Girls, click here.


Lina Caneva  |  Editor |  @ProBonoNews

Lina Caneva has been a journalist for more than 35 years, and Editor of Pro Bono Australia News since it was founded in 2000.

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