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Forrests set Australian donation record… again

7 May 2019 at 4:51 pm
Luke Michael
Australian philanthropists Andrew and Nicola Forrest hope a record $655 million donation to their Minderoo Foundation will help inspire a culture of philanthropy in the Asia-Pacific region.

Luke Michael | 7 May 2019 at 4:51 pm


Forrests set Australian donation record… again
7 May 2019 at 4:51 pm

Australian philanthropists Andrew and Nicola Forrest hope a record $655 million donation to their Minderoo Foundation will help inspire a culture of philanthropy in the Asia-Pacific region.

The Forrest’s gift is the largest ever living donation by any Australian philanthropist – surpassing the couple’s previous record donation of $400 million in 2017 ­– and takes their total contribution to the foundation to $1.5 billion.

Andrew Forrest announced the donation in Singapore on Monday, and said the Asia-Pacific region was the couple’s home and had given them so much. But he said it faced tremendous challenges.

“Our oceans are under threat from plastic pollution and overfishing, forced labour exists at a higher rate than anywhere else in the world, and cancer continues to be one of our biggest killers,” Forrest said.

“I believe that through innovative research, authentic collaboration and significant pooled capital we can find solutions to these challenges.”

The Forrest’s donation will be used on new initiatives and also to expand the existing work of the Minderoo Foundation in areas including cancer research, early childhood development, ocean health, and eliminating modern slavery.

Forrest said while the Minderoo Foundation was committed to driving new solutions, it could not do it alone.

He called on other high-net-worth individuals in the region to show leadership with their giving.

“The Asia-Pacific region is home to more high-net-worth individuals than anywhere else in the world. I call on them to join us in committing the same leadership, enthusiasm and purpose that created their wealth, to the causes they are passionate about,” he said.

“It is time we came together humbly and courageously to build a culture of philanthropy in the Asia-Pacific region and collaborate for change.”

Asia Philanthropy Circle CEO Laurence Lien said he was very encouraged by the Forrest’s commitment to philanthropy.

“The Forrests not only inspire with their generosity but serve as role models, in a region where there are few, with their strategic approach to achieve impact and desire to collaborate to multiply efforts,” Lien said.

“I especially hope more will learn and replicate their systems approach to tackling complex issues, like human trafficking.”

This call to action comes as recent research found the Chinese philanthropy sector has quadrupled in value over the last decade.

The study found total giving in China had grown to US$23.4 billion (A$32.8 billion) in 2017, with registered foundations increasing by 17 per cent since 2009.

It also said the opportunity for the sector to further grow was highlighted by the fact China has 819 billionaires – the highest number in the world.

The Minderoo Foundation was founded by the Forrests in 2001 and has since supported more than 280 projects globally.

Nicola Forrest said this number would only continue to grow with this latest funding injection.

“[It] will bolster the foundation’s existing work, allow it to continue to grow under the leadership of chief executive Andrew Hagger and see us collaborate on more projects that hopefully leave the world in a better place,” she said.

Sarah Davies, the CEO of Philanthropy Australia, told Pro Bono News the Forrest’s willingness to be public about their giving and their desire to set an example to other wealthy Australians was vital to building a culture of giving in Australia.

But she said what she found particularly exciting about their giving was not just the volume, but their approach to change.

“Their work focuses on understanding and addressing the root causes and system failures across their focus areas,” Davies said.

“This approach, coupled with the scale of their giving and the partnerships they create, gives us great optimism for what can be achieved. It will be really exciting to see the impact of this significant contribution over the years.”

Luke Michael  |  Journalist  |  @luke_michael96

Luke Michael is a journalist at Pro Bono News covering the social sector.

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