By Harrison Bain
Online production by Joseph Lam
The Founder of the fourth largest iron ore company in the world Fortescue Metals, Andrew Forrest and his wife Nicola have pledged $400 million to a number of causes including cancer research, higher education and eradication of slavery.
The donation broke records as the biggest single philanthropic gift by a living individual in Australian history with Prime Minstier Malcolm Turnbull describing it as a “game changer”.
Director of the Australian centre for philanthropy and non-profit studies at the Queensland University of Technology Wendy Scaife says wealthy corporate entities are demonstrating a new willingness to give big.
“Corporately, our recent study giving Australia would tell us Australia is booming is terms of giving from companies, particularly at the larger end of the sector, the large corporations,” said Scaife.
She says while in the past philanthropy has been discrete, Forrest’s donation represents a modern more public style of giving.
“It tended to be that people were fairly quiet and modest about their giving, but I think people realise that sometimes you need a bit of role modeling happening out their so sometimes we see things like yesterday’s announcement of Twiggy Forrest,” said Scaife.
Philanthropy Manager of the Queensland Community Foundation Jane Anderson says this new willingness for companies and individuals to give publicly is driving the encouragement for others to follow suit.
“To do philanthropy in private is great, but by coming out and saying Andrew Forrest gave that money, it gets a lot more air time and a lot more wealthy people thinking I could do the same thing,” says Anderson.
However she says Australia still has a long way to go compared with other countries such as the US which have long histories of philanthropic giving.
“We compare very badly to the US who have a very generous corporate giving structure.
“We don’t have such a generous tax incentive in Australia as the Americans and I think the Americans have just got a culture of giving,” she says.
Although Philanthropy is catching on with the wealthy Judith Fiander from the Australian Philanthropic Services says public philanthropy helps individuals give back to the community.
“There are lots of people who have been successful and made wealth of various sizes who see it very much as part of their lives to establish values for their kids around giving back to the community,” says Fiander.