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Record amount of dollars donated by Australia’s wealthiest


6 May 2019 at 5:19 pm
Maggie Coggan
Australia’s top philanthropists are donating more than ever before, with $3.6 million the smallest gift to make it on this year’s Philanthropy 50 list, sitting at over half a million dollars more than the lowest donation in 2017.  


Maggie Coggan | 6 May 2019 at 5:19 pm


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Record amount of dollars donated by Australia’s wealthiest
6 May 2019 at 5:19 pm

Australia’s top philanthropists are donating more than ever before, with $3.6 million the smallest gift to make it on this year’s Philanthropy 50 list, sitting at over half a million dollars more than the lowest donation in 2017.  

The annual list, released by the Australian Financial Review on Thursday, was compiled by John McLeod, the co-founder of JBWere Philanthropic Services, for the third year in a row.     

McLeod told Pro Bono News that the increased size of the gifts was one of the more interesting trends, especially when compared to the decreased rates of mass-market giving.  

“The mass market’s fall [in giving] is due to things like a lack of natural disasters, and cost of living pressures, but at the other end we’ve seen pretty strong growth,” McLeod said.  

“We’ve seen some new names and we’ve seen some pretty big increases from existing names.”

The Paul Ramsay Foundation topped the list once again at $85.8 million, followed by the Minderoo Foundation, established by Andrew and Nicola Forrest, which gave $60.4 million, a huge leap up from the $19 million it donated last year.   

Other major increases were Gandel Philanthropy, which jumped to $16.7 million from $10 million, and the Stan Perron Charitable Trust, up from $4 million to $12.8 million.              

New additions to the list included Andrew and Paula Liveris, who came in at number 11 with a donation of $13.5 million for an academy in engineering, architecture and IT at the University of Queensland; the Cory Charitable Foundation ($5.2 million); Springfield Land Corporation chairman Maha Sinnathamby; and Blackmores health supplements company chairman Marcus Blackmore (both with gifts of $5 million).

The Ian Potter Foundation fell to third place this year ($25.8 million) from second place in 2017 ($35.4 million).     

McLeod said while the donations were predominantly directed at tertiary education, the arts, and health, money for environmental and conservation causes emerged as the fourth major cause in this year’s list.

“While the environment has always been mentioned by a few philanthropists there’s just been some large gifts [this year],” McLeod said.    

“Whether that’s for pre-election campaigns or something else I’m not sure but certainly [the donations] are a little bit more widespread and a little bit larger.”   

He also said a number of Private Ancillary Funds (PAFs) had started to grow strongly since their introduction in 2001, and that more PAFs would appear in the top 50 lists over the coming years.

“People are choosing to structure their giving when they’ve got the ability to make very large donations, and they’re using that opportunity to establish their giving for a long period of time,” he said.  

“It wouldn’t surprise me at all to see the structure of PAFs being very common on that list in another five or 10 years time.”


Maggie Coggan  |  Journalist  |  @MaggieCoggan

Maggie Coggan is a journalist at Pro Bono News covering the social sector.

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