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Australian philanthropy over 20 years: A timeline

4 June 2020 at 7:45 am
Wendy Williams
A lot can happen in two decades. Here we look back through 20 years of Pro Bono News’ philanthropy coverage and share some of the sector’s key moments.

Wendy Williams | 4 June 2020 at 7:45 am


Australian philanthropy over 20 years: A timeline
4 June 2020 at 7:45 am

A lot can happen in two decades. Here we look back through 20 years of Pro Bono News’ philanthropy coverage and share some of the sector’s key moments.

From 2000 to now: The key events of Australia’s philanthropy sector


Philanthropy Australia and The Myer Foundation host the sector’s first technology conference

With presentations from international guest speakers Sharon Burns and Gregory Lanier, the conference – Putting the dot in philanthropy – focuses on how the sector can understand and make best use of the World Wide Web and database development. 


The former head of Microsoft, Daniel Petre takes aim at Australia’s “stingy rich”

He claims: “We have a pretty pathetic record in Australia of rich people giving money!”


Prime Minister John Howard announces details of two new tax initiatives to encourage greater corporate and personal philanthropy in Australia

This includes guidelines for Prescribed Private Funds which are set to become a new form of charitable trust.


Philanthropy Australia produces the first Australian directory of corporate philanthropy

The directory, which lists 170 companies, documents the contribution of Australian business to the community. 


ACOSS is given substantial federal government funds for a major research project on giving and philanthropy in Australia

The research team includes Professor Mark Lyons and Professor Myles McGregor-Lowndes.


The Giving Australia report is released

The most comprehensive research on philanthropy in Australia to date, it finds Australians and businesses are giving and volunteering more than ever before, contributing more than $11 billion in 2004.


The wealthiest individuals in the world give more than $285 billion to charity in 2006

The 2007 World Wealth Report says high-net worth individuals are increasing the financial resources, time and thought that they donate to philanthropic causes. 


The Rudd government introduces the Tax Law Amendments Bill

It makes changes to Private Prescribed Funds, including some changes recommended by the sector. PPFs are now known as Private Ancillary Funds (PAFs).


The PPF turns 10

To mark the 10th birthday, philanthropist and executive chair of HSC & Company, Phil Hayes-St Clair, shares his thoughts on what the next 10 years will hold.


Australia has big givers

Fundraising Research and Consulting (FR&C) updates its list of Australian donors who have given over $1 million to include more than 200 individuals and families –  including eight who donated more than $100 million.


The Charities Act 2013 comes into effect

The new legislation expands “charitable purpose” and sets out the legal meaning of charity in a language everyone can understand.


JBWere publishes the PAF Report, revealing record growth in private ancillary funds

“Their introduction over 13 years ago, combined with the more recent jump in large and public gifts, has provided philanthropy in Australia its biggest leap forward in many decades,” says report author, John McLeod.


2014 is declared the year of the “mega gifts”, with some of the biggest philanthropic donations ever seen in Australia being made

It was the year Paul Ramsay left his $3 billion fortune – the largest single charitable donation ever in Australia – to his personal foundation.


Giving Australia 2016 report is released

It’s the largest ever national research effort into giving and volunteering. It finds the rise of crowdfunding and other technologies has allowed a “charity bypass” in Australia with more donors directly engaging with their causes often leaving charities in their wake.


Andrew and Nicola Forrest make philanthropic history with a $400 million donation

It’s the largest philanthropic donation to date from a living Australian.


There is a growing impetus for philanthropy to fund policy advocacy

The Power of Advocacy, produced by Philanthropy Australia, makes the case for philanthropic support for advocacy and argues that funding policy advocacy can be an effective way to address complex social and environmental challenges. 


Australians are giving less

The value of tax-deductible donations drops for the first time since the global financial crisis, with fewer Australians giving, and giving lower amounts.


COVID-19 hits giving

A new report reveals the coronavirus pandemic could see giving in Australia fall by almost 20 per cent by the end of next year.


Philanthropists step up

Nearly 90 per cent of Australian grantmakers step up in support of charities during COVID-19, with a new survey showing the country’s top trusts and foundations are giving more than ever.   

For an in-depth look at how the philanthropy sector has evolved over the past two decades, see our article: Look how far we’ve come – Philanthropy 


Wendy Williams  |  Editor  |  @WendyAnWilliams

Wendy Williams is a journalist specialising in the not-for-profit sector and broader social economy. She has been the editor of Pro Bono News since 2018.

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