Australian Philanthropist Joins Giving Pledge
31 May 2017 at 5:03 pm
An Australian philanthropist is the latest to sign up to an international forum of the world’s wealthiest individuals and families committed to donating a large proportion of their wealth to charitable causes.
Leonard Ainsworth will join Andrew and Nicola Forrest as the third Australian to sign up to the Giving Pledge, pledging to give at least half of his wealth to charitable causes.
Ainsworth, known as Australia’s pokies king, is Australia’s 11th wealthiest person and made his billionaire fortune in the gaming industry manufacturing pokie machines.
Ainsworth has been involved in philanthropy for more than 50 years and his foundation, Ainsworth Family Foundation, was listed as 23rd in The Financial Review’s Philanthropy’s 50 Biggest Private Givers.
He said he had been fortunate in being able to increase philanthropic giving over the years.
“As a private person, I prefer to minimise publicity of my philanthropic activities but at the same time realise that setting a positive example is the best way to encourage others to give back,” Ainsworth said in his pledge.
Ainsworth’s past philanthropic support has gone towards medicine and medical research and universities.
“I am particularly interested in design as it relates to engineering, as the economies introduced by clever and innovative design far outweigh production volume savings,” he said.
Created by Bill and Melinda Gates in 2010 The Giving Pledge encourages the wealthiest individuals and families to give the majority of their wealth towards charitable causes.
Ainsworth, along with 14 philanthropists from the United States, Tanzania, the People’s Republic of China, Norway, Cyprus, Slovenia and Norway, will bring the number of signatories up to 168.
In a statement from the Giving Pledge, the global forum said it aimed “to shift the social norms of philanthropy toward giving more, giving sooner and giving smarter”.
Melinda Gates, co-chair of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, said she was excited to welcome and learn from a new group of of philanthropists joining the Giving Pledge.
“Philanthropy is different around the world, but almost every culture has a long-standing tradition of giving back,” she said.
Philanthropy Australia CEO Sarah Davies said she hoped to see more Australians answer the call to give generously.
“The Giving Pledge is a call to action to grow philanthropy from the world’s most wealthy, we hope to see more Australians answering this call,” Davies said.
“We also recognise that in growing philanthropy in Australia, we will confront broader questions around wealth creation and distribution – for example about its source and the appropriate tax frameworks.
“We shouldn’t shy away from these questions, but be confident to openly talk about them, as we strive towards achieving more and better philanthropy in Australia.”