Philanthropy, the Next Generation

The Australia Council’s Artsupport team held two private events last week in Sydney and Melbourne, to launch an initiative targeted at cultivating a new generation of giving in Australia. I went to the Melbourne event as an interested philanthrocrat, wanting to hear the stories of the three panellists (more about them below). But my interest was mainly sparked by a desire to know what’s being done to encourage greater giving in Australia, given the ongoing negative press about wealthy Australians’ meanness. It’s a common talking point, as our blog attests.

Artsupport’s purpose is to grow cultural philanthropy in Australia. It began in 2003 with just two staff members in Sydney but now has representatives in every state and territory (except Tasmania). It’s estimated that, so far, the initiative has facilitated more than $50 million of new philanthropic income to around 200 Australian artists and 600 arts organisations – as their page of the Aus Co website says, this is a strong outcome for a government investment of nearly $5.2 million: providing a return of nearly 1,000 per cent.

The two events last week are billed as stage one of a three-year ‘New generation of giving’ plan to build a community of young philanthropists, aged between 28-39 years, with inherited or self-generated wealth; through panel sessions, dinners and other networking events (a field trip to the US was mooted…..).   The younger generation, where better to start?

The Melbourne event was held at Comme, a swanky bar in Melbourne’s CBD and a favourite after-work haunt of the be-suited ladies and gentleman of the city. A smart choice given the invitees, if we’re to go purely on stereotypes that is. In fact the choice of venue called to mind my blog ’Giving is Sexy’ which explored UK research findings into why donors give and non donors don’t.

The three panellists were:

  • Dr Sam Prince, Founder of the Emagine Foundation and Zambrero Fresh Mex Grill Restaurants
  • Danielle Caruana, aka Mama Kin, co-Founder and director of The Seed (previously known as The JB Seed)
  • Thora Klein-Gibaud, Former Director, Jurlique International and someone whose passion for music is lived out through Ngaringa Farm Arts Foundation.

Each had a very individual story about what inspired them to give, how they chose the focus of their philanthropy, what they aim to achieve through their giving and, in a good reality check, some of the problems they experienced along the way. It was inspirational stuff and I hope the intended next gen philanthropists left the evening duly inspired, with a sense of what is possible, and a better understanding of the drive, determination, motivation and nous they will need if they decide to step up to the plate.

I was certainly inspired by Danielle’s story. To me it was the most accessible of the three (I am neither an entrepreneur, nor someone with inherited wealth). The Seed’s philanthropy was born on a very small scale, using collaborations which drew on Danielle and her co-Founder, John Butler’s, networks in the music industry to amass enough support to create a fund to “help Australian artists from any background, creating art and music across any genre, to establish themselves as self-sustained, professional artists”. It has since gone on to grow and grow, supporting more and more artists. In essence, it was a great idea which met (and still meets) a need and was able to galvanise people around it. Food for thought.  If you’re interested in knowing more about The Seed, this little youtube video will give you a great insight:  

The New Generation of Giving initiative has good potential and I’ll watch with interest to see how it develops, because it is of inestimable importance to encourage and nurture the next generation of philanthropists.

You can follow the musings of Claire Rimmer on Twitter via @ClaireMRimmer