2018 was another landmark year for Australian philanthropy, continuing the transformation that we have seen in the Australian giving landscape over the last half-dozen years.
The biggest philanthropic news came at the end of the year - the loss of Stan Perron, already an extraordinarily important donor in WA, will not mean the end of his philanthropic legacy, with the bulk of his $4 billion fortune going to his foundation.
This bequest will make a big difference in several ways. Firstly, from a giving perspective it means we now have another very large foundation on a similar scale to the $4bn+ Paul Ramsay Foundation. Secondly, of the three Australians who have now given or pledged over $1bn (Paul Ramsay, Andrew Forrest, and Stan Perron), two are from WA - a rebalancing of philanthropy's centre of gravity away from the eastern states.
The two biggest gift announcements of the year were both for $100m:
• Judith Neilson announced a $100m gift to support the Judith Neilson Institute for Journalism and Ideas.
• Andrew and Nicola Forrest's Minderoo Foundation announced a $100m commitment to their Minderoo Ocean Research (MOR) Initiative, with a range of partner organisations.
Early in 2019, we also saw Australia's biggest ever fundraising campaign meet its target, as the University of Sydney announced it had reached its $1 billion objective, an unprecedented landmark in Australian philanthropy.
Big gifts in higher education in 2018 included:
• $30m to LaTrobe University from an anonymous donor, helping the University to reach its $50m campaign goal, and set a new target of $100m
• $30m to the University of Melbourne from Jane Hansen and Paul Little
• $16.4m from the Paul Ramsay Foundation to the University of Newcastle
• $13.5m from Andrew and Paula Liveris to the University of Queensland
• $10m from Marcus Blackmore and Caroline Furlong to Southern Cross University
• $10m from Len and Margarete Ainsworth to Western Sydney University
• $10m from the Kinghorn Foundation to the Australian-American Fulbright Commission to support Fulbright Future Scholarships.
In other higher education news, Monash University launched its largest ever fundraising campaign, with a target of $500m.
The Ramsay Centre for Western Civilisation was much in the news - while ANU withdrew mid-year from negotiations to establish a Ramsay-funded degree in Western Civilisation Studies, the University of Wollongong reached an agreement to establish a degree, worth a reported $50m in funding over eight years.
The Ramsay Foundation itself announced a major change with the appointment of a new CEO, Professor Glyn Davis, taking over from inaugural CEO Simon Freeman.
In the arts, we saw another landmark project meet its target as the Art Gallery of NSW successfully concluded the capital campaign for its Sydney Modern project, exceeding its $100m target, and foreshadowing an intended art acquisition campaign to be launched in 2019.
With one major arts project coming to fruition, another was being announced, with Victorian premier Daniel Andrews signalling a major redevelopment of Melbourne's arts precinct, with ambitious philanthropic support needed to see the project through.
In the health sector, big gifts included:
• The Paul Ramsay Foundation's gift of $11.33m to the Burnet Institute's Eliminate Hepatitis C Australia Partnership
• The late Geoffrey Carrick's bequest of $9.85m to the Royal Flying Doctor Service and Children's Hospital Foundation
• A $5m gift by Carl and Wendy Dowd to the Florey Institute, matched by another $5m from Florey Chairman Harold Mitchell
• $2.5m from Neil Balnaves and the Balnaves Foundation to the Menzies School of Health Research's Hearing for Learning initiative
In sport, Hawthorn FC major donor Geoff Harris made a lead gift of $10m in support of the club's move to Dingley.
Finally, 2018 was notable not just for the financial contributions made by Australia's philanthropists, but also by their involvement in public advocacy. Perpetual's Caitriona Fay summed up 2018 as 'the year philanthropy fought for democracy.' And Philanthropy Australia's Sarah Wickham noted the support given by The Myer Foundation, The Snow Foundation, The Fay Fuller Foundation and The Wyatt Trust to the Australian Council of Social Services (ACOSS) Raise the Rate Campaign to reduce poverty in Australia.
In total, we counted more than 80 publicly announced gifts of between $1m and $100m in Australia last year, and FR&C's updated list of Australian $1m+ donors can be found here.
When we started this list in 2011, there were 100 $1m+ donors, and Australia's biggest giver was an Irish-American, Chuck Feeney (still near the top with US$368m in Australian giving).
That list now contains 350 donors, two of whom have established foundations with assets in the billions, and two more who have pledged to give away at least half their wealth.
Expect more changes in the years ahead!