Australian Philanthropists Urged to Conserve the Country’s Natural Wonders
16 January 2018 at 4:28 pm
The Nature Conservancy has called on Australian philanthropists to “step up” and give generously, after the charity received its single-largest philanthropic gift ever of US$165 million (A$210 million) from a couple in California.
This donation from Jack and Laura Dangermond has allowed The Nature Conservancy (TNC) to acquire the Bixby Ranch – an “ecologically important piece of wild Californian coastline and neighbouring hinterland” located near Santa Barbara.
“This historic gift inspired a wave of support from our donors, allowing us to complete this land purchase entirely with private funding,” Mark Tercek, TNC CEO and president said.
“The generosity of all these donors will not only preserve this valuable part of California, but also set an example for what it means to invest in the future of our planet.”
Rich Gilmore, the country director for TNC in Australia, invited Australian philanthropists to follow the lead of their US counterparts.
“Australians are every bit as successful and generous as their US counterparts, and we hope philanthropists in Australia will be inspired by this gift and step forward to play their part in conserving Australia’s incredible natural wonders,” Gilmore said.
“[This gift is notable] for its size and for its overt aspiration to trigger similar gifts from other entrepreneurs. It’s also evidence that, despite the perceptions of some to the contrary, nature conservation can inspire people to make very large gifts, just as education and health do.”
Gilmore told Pro Bono News that Australians had a philanthropic culture that perhaps was not as recognised as it deserved to be.
“I think one of the prevailing perceptions is that we don’t have the established culture of philanthropy that exists in the US. I don’t think that’s true actually,” he said.
“In our experience, there are a lot of self-made entrepreneurs who have established philanthropic foundations that give generously to a range of causes including the environment.
“And it’s increasing, philanthropists are getting younger as well, as tech entrepreneurs start to come through and share their wealth. So we think that Australians have the capacity to and are starting to give increasingly generously.”
TNC notes that local philanthropists and donors have supported the acquisition of 22 properties for conservation totalling almost 2.5 million hectares across Australia, including the 180,000 hectare Fish River Station in the Northern Territory, and the expansion of the Adelaide International Bird Sanctuary.
Gilmore said that conservation philanthropy was gaining traction as a popular source of philanthropic funds in Australia.
“I think [areas like] health and education often inspire people to give because of a person’s lived experience. It might be that education directly contributed to their success. It could be a traumatic life event in the case of health, like the death or illness of a loved one,” he said.
“But I increasingly think people are recognising the importance of nature and the time that they spend in nature as important to their lived experience and particularly to their kids.
“As people get older, they think back to the times they enjoyed in nature and we see the degradation of those places around the world and people want to preserve that experience of spending time in a healthy environment.”
Gilmore’s message to Australian philanthropists was that it was “absolutely not too late” to give.
“You can make a huge difference to the health of the Australian environment and all the places you love for the benefits of your kids and grandkids,” he said.
“Australia is an incredibly blessed place and those who have been fortunate enough to be successful in life and business [can] share that success and ensure we can enjoy those places for the rest of our lifetimes and our kids’ and grandkids’ lifetimes.”