Yesterday was a significant point in history for Philanthropy in Australia; with Andrew and Nicola Forrest, billionaire founder of Fortescue Metals, publicly announcing the largest single donation in Australian history by a living person of $400 million.
Besides being an incredible act of generosity, what is so interesting about this donation?
1. It was public - Andrew deliberately engaged bipartisan government support and the national media to make the announcement. His aim was to lead by example and to help break down the misconceptions about what motivates he and Nicola to be philanthropic. While some negative criticism claim they were only motivated by tax, most of the community and the public genuinely see the donation for what is it – a very generous act of giving.
2. They were not motivated by tax – As Andrew discussed on ABC Radio, the catalyst to give the donation now was because he believes it was a critical tipping point for many of the charitable causes they support and they believe a significant injection of funds were needed to ensure these areas advanced forward and not backwards – this is particularly relevant for childhood education, cancer research and indigenous initiatives.
3. Their children are their “mentors” in their philanthropic journey - Andrew and Nicola find philanthropy incredibly rewarding and benefit most by engaging their children in their giving. Andrew credits his children as being their mentors, and their support in donating the family wealth has made the journey that much more rewarding. Andrew and Nicola want their kids to work hard and they don’t want them to expect significant wealth in the future, so philanthropy has worked really well to balance future financial support and teaching them important values such as empathy, hard work and forging their own journeys.
4. Time and money both matter – in all of Andrew’s public interviews, he continuously reminds us that any Australian can give - "I would just simply say to all Australians give what you can, and if it isn't money, time is just as valuable”. While Andrew and Nicola Forrest have the money to give, they also give significant time and voice to the causes they care about. They understand, that the only way to genuinely make cancer into a non-lethal disease or to stop modern slavery, is through the small and large collective efforts of individual, governments and companies.
So if you have had good fortunes and you are passionate about certain charities or community causes, think about what level of giving you can commit to – whether it be money, time or talent or a combination of each. It doesn’t have to be significant.
Many of our clients are unaware that they can set up their own philanthropic fund with as little of $50,000 in capital (with the full contribution being tax deductible).
Charitable giving is becoming more accessible and having more thought and planning in how you give can provide a better outcome to the causes you want to support, as well as enabling you to enjoy the generous act of giving and involve others, should you want to.