Universities Don’t Just Need Biggest Givers
Tuesday, 2nd September 2014 at 12:25 pm
One of Australia's highest profile philanthropists, Andrew Forrest has called on Universities to get better at dealing with small and medium financial donors, rather than focusing all their time to the biggest givers, in his speech to the national Philanthropy Australia Conference in Melbourne.
Forrest, who is the founder of the Minderoo Foundation and the first Australian to sign the Giving Pledge that will see him give away half of his $5.86 billion wealth, told an audience of more than 700 people that Universities were not doing enough to set up relationships with philanthropists.
“I think that Universities aren’t that great at dealing with smaller donors,” Forrest said.
“The message for large institutions is that from little things big things grow and they need to nurture young philanthropists that are out there having a crack because you never know where they are going to turn out.
“If I was running a University I would set up, with confidence, departments or small groups that can deal with the community.
“Dealing with the Government is going to be a little bit shaky and we are going to need to rely on the community.”
The mining magnate shared the stage with Graham Tuckwell who in February 2013 made the largest ever donation to education in Australia – $50 million to fund a scholarship program at the Australian National University.
Forrest also said that he would not be harassing fellow mining bosses Gina Rinehart and Clive Palmer to become as philanthropic as he is.
“If you browbeat people into becoming philanthropists then you might get $500,000, but if you leave the gate open… you might get $50 million because they are giving of their own volition,” he said.
Tuckwell revealed that he was reluctant about going public with his charitable donations and only did so to encourage other wealthy people to become philanthropists too.
“From our point of view there was almost no blueprint for this,” Tuckwell said.
“There were hardly any precedents because people weren’t being public at all.
“When it came to this we would much rather have kept it quiet. But suddenly the rich list gets published and that sort of blows your cover.”
Tuckwell admitted that financial circumstances almost stopped him from even becoming a philanthropist in the first place.
“Five or six years ago we were selling assets just to keep the business afloat. Six more months of that and we would have been gone,” he said.
“We didn’t have any thought of philanthropy because we didn’t have the capacity for it.”
Tuckwell said more than 70 people were involved in helping him give away his wealth and that weekly meetings were held to make sure it was done effectively.
He said that the number of philanthropists in Australia would only continue to grow if wealthy people were able to find their own issues to be involved in.
“The only thing that gets people giving any amount of money is if they have a passion or a cause,” he said.
“It’s got to come from them. The idea has got to come from them.
“They’ve got to identify their own passion and once they’ve done that they need people to give them help and advice.”
The two-day Philanthropy Australia Conference will see more than 50 philanthropists discuss the future of charitable donations in Australia.
Philanthropy Australia Chief Executive Officer Louise Walsh said it was the largest conference of its type in the Southern Hemisphere.