Newman’s Own Grants $1.3M to Aus Charities
12 April 2016 at 11:24 am
US philanthropic organisation Newman’s Own Foundation has opened grants applications to Australian children’s charities, and has pledged to donate more than $1.3 million in 2016 through a range of giving programs.
The foundation’s CEO and president, Robert Forrester, is in Australia to kick off the grants program, and recently presented $130,000 to both Children’s First Foundation and Hummingbird House.
Forrester told Pro Bono Australia News that the program aimed to “remove the barriers that circumstances might create around an individual being able to achieve his or her potential”.
“This year we’re going to start a program focused on children with life-limiting conditions, both medically based and other conditions outside of medical where a child has had their childhood disrupted by external circumstances,” Forrester said.
Another funding round was announced on Tuesday, with applications opening on 14 April. Charities can apply for a grant of up to $50,000.
Forrester said that US foundation, funded through the profits of Newman’s Own products, has an important connection to Australia.
“It goes hand-in-hand with our total concept of who we are, Australia was actually the first venture of Newman’s Own outside of the United States, the company was started in 1982 and we started our business in Australia in 1983,” he said.
“We had a philosophy that we donate 100 per cent of the money we make, we donate it back into the communities we have our businesses in, so it was quite natural for us to really focus in on Australia early on.
“The first year of giving was the year after in 1984, and it was US$20,000 (A$26,345). We’re now up to US$22 million (A$28.98 million) of total contributions just in Australia.”
He said that Newman’s Own Foundation had built strong relationships with Australian charities over the past two decades.
“Australia has a great, in my experience, charitable sector. The people, they’re wonderful – they’re very much committed to the best practices and the highest ethical standards,” he said.
“To come back and meet with the charities that we’ve been supporting and watch their progress in a very tangible way – it doesn’t get any better than that.
“We’ve participated when there’s been natural disasters, like the fires and flooding, and while it’s terrible that those things happen it’s been such a privilege to be able to come in and be a small part of helping people and their communities recover.”
Forrester was a close friend of the late Hollywood actor Paul Newman, serving first as a business advisor, and eventually being appointed president of Newman’s Own Foundation when it launched in 2005.
He said their relationship had helped him ensure that Newman’s wishes are still carried out.
“He’s a very interesting guy in that he did not leave a book or manual on the kinds of things you should do or support, he left simply some principles, and said if he wasn’t going to be here in the future he couldn’t tell anyone how to respond to that future,” he said.
“We try our very best, and since I think I knew him so well… I think we’re doing as good as we can do.”
He also said that Newman had a revolutionary approach to philanthropy in his time.
“Paul Newman had two principles for the company, one was equality trumps profits and the other was if we have any profits we’ll donate it to charity,” he said.
“Paul was a man who had really, truly profound humility, he was a celebrity and was very successful in so many ways, but he never thought of himself as being special, and therefore he did not think of himself as starting a movement.
“But in his simple way he did create a whole new model and way of thinking in the United States, and it’s beginning to reach out in other parts of the world.
“That is, a regular commercial business – and we are a business in a very, very difficult competitive area, food and beverage – can do very well as a business while doing good as a citizen at the same time.
“While Paul did not set out and say we’re going to prove a point, he felt it was the right thing to do, it has changed a lot of thinking. I guess in a way that would be revolutionary, but he wouldn’t have accepted the title.”