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Philanthropy Australia unveils blueprint to enhance nation’s culture of giving

22 April 2021 at 5:30 pm
Luke Michael
“There's never been a more important time for philanthropy in Australia”      

Luke Michael | 22 April 2021 at 5:30 pm


Philanthropy Australia unveils blueprint to enhance nation’s culture of giving
22 April 2021 at 5:30 pm

“There’s never been a more important time for philanthropy in Australia”      

The nation’s peak philanthropy body has unveiled a blueprint it believes can help double the level of structured giving in Australia over the next decade, by encouraging action across the philanthropic, not-for-profit, business and government sectors.        

Philanthropy Australia (PA) launched the blueprint report during its national conference on Wednesday, looking to capitalise on the $2.6 trillion intergenerational wealth transfer expected to occur over the next few decades.

The report notes that structured giving – which involves using a vehicle such as private or public ancillary funds, sub-funds and giving circles – accounts for around 20 per cent of total annual donations in Australia and is vital because it encourages higher giving levels by donors.

PA aspires to grow Australia’s structured giving level to $5 billion in 2030 – double the $2.5 billion in structured giving estimated for 2020. 

A key strategic priority of the blueprint is engaging more of Australia’s high net worth (HNW) and ultra high net worth (UHNW) individuals.

A 2018 JBWere report found the proportion of wealthy Australians who donate was decreasing.

Australian tax data from 2017-18 revealed that 54.5 percent of people earning over $1 million a year claimed tax deductible donations, compared to 90 per cent in the United States.

PA CEO Jack Heath told Pro Bono News that boosting the percentage of wealthy donors will have a major impact on the nation’s giving levels.

“We think that there needs to be a lot more work done around communicating the joy that comes from giving,” Heath said.

“And looking at how we can target the ultra high net worth individuals, we believe it’s very much about a behind the scenes, peer-to-peer based model of engaging [people] in philanthropy.

“That’s a really critical issue to address.”   

The first stage of the Blueprint identifies ten key initiatives, including removing barriers to donating excess superannuation, introducing a bi-annual report on HNW giving to stimulate more donations, and pushing to give community foundations DGR1 status so they can distribute funding directly to beneficiaries in their local areas.

Heath said these changes would all help to grow structured giving in Australia.

“For example we want to enable more people to make a donation directly from their superannuation. At the moment, around about 90 per cent of super remains when people pass away,” he said.

“So we believe that there’s a critical opportunity to make it easy for people to make a binding death nomination in their superannuation and for there to be no tax on that.

“And we think that community foundations need to be afforded DGR1 status. Because we’ve seen the rising importance of place-based philanthropy – particularly over the course of the bushfires and COVID – with people increasingly turning their support to local [initiatives].”

Heath said the next stage of the blueprint was about looking at the best way to roll these initiatives out. 

He said an important part of this involved forming a “Coalition of the Giving”, bringing together a broad group of leaders from across the philanthropic, social, business and government sectors to collectively shape the blueprint’s execution and the design of specific initiatives.

“It’s one thing to have a blueprint and to have good ideas and goals. But really, [we need] a cross-sector group of leading Australians who will get behind the blueprint and help shape it,” he said.

“We’re also going to be going out and seeking partners who on top of the support we’ve got from the Paul Ramsay Foundation and Perpetual, will go with us in the next stage of the journey.” 

Heath added that a strong philanthropic sector was needed now more than ever, with Australians looking for greater leadership in the community.

“We’ve got diminishing trust across our institutions, we’ve currently got significant budget deficits and a government that is risk averse,” he said.

“So we believe there’s never been a more important time for philanthropy in Australia. 

“There’s a significant opportunity for philanthropy to play a really important and progressive role across the community that stretches down into our rural and regional areas.” 

You can see the full blueprint here.  

Luke Michael  |  Journalist  |  @luke_michael96

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

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