Connected Giving | March 2019 edition

Giving in Australia, moving beyond stereotypes, and the rise of mega-donors.

Welcome to Connected Giving, Australian Executor Trustees monthly update on current trends and news in philanthropy. This month’s industry news summary looks at the 2019 Australian Communities Trends report, revealing the patterns inherent in Australia’s giving habits. Bill and Melinda Gates defend philanthropy against criticisms of tax evasion, while in a similar vein, AET’s Ben Clark discusses his observations of the underlying motivations that drive people to engage with philanthropy. The Barefoot Investor talks about family finances, and we also look at different grantmaking models, the rise of the mega-donor, and tips on sourcing gift prospects.

Jump to any one of the edition’s articles by clicking the links below:

Giving in Australia: why and how Australians support not for profits

The 2019 Australian Communities Trends Report reveals that five in six Australians give to charities. Much of Australia’s social infrastructure relies on the not for profit sector and charities, and this value is demonstrated by the $143 billion given by the community in the last year. This Report builds on past research and offers insights to help Australia’s not for profit leaders to remain and grow as a force for positive change. Among many things, this Report shows that Australian givers are increasingly ‘needs responders’, responding to issues when they arise, rather than giving consistently on an ongoing basis. Giving in goods and time is also prominent among many Australians. The Communities Trends Report also highlights how crucial organisational trust and transparency is. Read the full article here (5 mins).

Not a charade: Bill, Melinda Gates defend billionaire philanthropists

Bill and Melinda Gates are speaking out against a wave of criticisms about whether billionaire philanthropy is a force for good. The criticism comes as shifting political conversation focuses on taxes and policy in the US, and as the book calling high-dollar giving an ‘elite charade’ – “Winners Take All” –  becomes a best seller. This division around wealth and philanthropy was present in the World Economic Forum this year, where Bill Gates was a sponsor and a speaker. On one panel, historian Rutger Bregman suggested such billionaire-funded giving amounted to tax avoidance that exacerbates the problems it seeks to tackle. Melinda Gates followed this incident by taking the other side, seeing a responsibility for herself to help others to be doing good with their wealth. Similarly, AET’s Ben Clark discusses his observations of the underlying motivations that drive people to engage with philanthropy. Read the full article here (3 mins).

“One of the worst things you can do is leave your kids large amounts of money”: The Barefoot Investor

More than a million people own a copy of the book “The Only Money Guide You’ll Ever Need”, by Scott Pape, aka The Barefoot Investor. He has since turned his focus on family finance, and giving, proposing that “what matters is that you embed the values of giving in your children because that’s how you raise decent humans”. Scott Pape discusses the issues with inheritance, and how he himself instills the giving values he wants to see in his own family life. Read the full article (2 mins).

Multiyear and unrestricted: the grants of nonprofit dreams come to life

As revenue source for ongoing work, foundation grants can be exasperating for multiple reasons. This article looks at how grantmaking with the intention to build power and sustainability for grantees who reflect the ideals of the foundations. The Ford Foundation embodies this in its BUILD program, and the Edna McConnell Clark Foundation. Both foundations defy the ‘short term’ philanthropic norm in their grant form, to focus on building longer term capacity for grantees. The Whitman Institute calls the form “Trust-Based Philanthropy”Read the full article here (7 mins).

Power shift: how will nonprofits respond to the rise of the mega-donor?

Is a donation a gift, or an investment? These kinds of questions have become increasingly critical as a new wave of mega-donors has emerged, intensifying the power dynamic between donor and organisation. Large donors do have more resources to deal with larger and more complex philanthropic pursuits, however there are dangers that must be considered alongside this. Concerns such as how larger donors have the ability to set societal priorities that reflect personal interests. Individual organisations will try to balance these concerns to suit their fundraising strategies, yet it is an important conversation that we should be ready to have. Read the full article (4 mins).

Top tips for finding your top major gift prospects

Often major gift prospects are hidden in plain sight, but how do you find them and prioritise your approaches? This article advises you to take a look at those that are currently giving at a mid-range level, and talk to them. Understanding why these people are giving and asking for connections or bigger donations is key to unlocking prospects. Look into current donors, your board and executive, for other connections and ideas, supporters in your database and network for an engaged and resourceful audience. Read the full article here (2 mins).

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