Philanthrophy is the planned giving of money or other resources for the purpose of developing community well being. It represents a potential alternative source of funding from government grants, fund raising, corporate sponsorship, earned income and memberships.   Philanthropic funding can be more discretionary than funds from other sources, and it can fund projects or organisations that are more risky than government might fund.  Securing philanthropic funding therefore enables a nonprofit organisation to diversify its support base.  Most charitable organisations receive less than 10% of their funding from the philanthropic sector.

How many philanthropic foundations are there in Australia, and how much do they give?

The size of the philanthropic sector in Australia is unknown, as there are currently no reporting requirements for grant making trusts and foundations.  However, chapter deven of the Productivity Commission’s 2010 report into the Contribution of the Not-for-Profit Sector, summarises what is known.

Philanthropy Australia estimates that there are approximately 5,000 foundations in Australia giving between half a billion and one billion dollars per annum.  This number includes 863 Private Ancillary Funds or PAFs (as at October 2010) and approximately 2,000 charitable trusts and foundations administered by trustee companies. 

Significant philanthropic foundations that make grants in Queensland include:

How can Philanthropy Australia assist you?

Philanthropy Australia (PA) is the national peak body for philanthropy and is a not-for-profit membership organisation.  Its members are trusts and foundations, families and individuals who want to make a difference through their own philanthropy and to encourage others to become philanthropists. Its mission is to represent, grow and inspire an effective and robust philanthropic sector for the community.

Philanthropy Australia provides a great range of resources, some freely available on its website and through the PhilanthropyWiki as well as a range of paid professional development

PA also offers a helpful section on its website called “Fast Facts and Statistics” which provides answers to some of the Frequently Asked Questions about Australian philanthropy.

Information for donors on getting started in philanthropy can be found in the “Guide to Giving”.  The Guide is written for people who are new to the idea of planned giving, and are looking for some basic information to guide their decision making.

What other useful organisations can I access?

Organisations exist to help grow giving in particular areas, for example:

What kinds of organisations are supported by philanthropy?

Charitable trusts and foundations can have different restrictions on what organisations they can fund.  In particular, charitable trusts established under a Will are legally bound by the terms of the Will or Trust Deed.    Very few charitable trusts and foundations can make grants directly to individuals.

In general, however, most grant-making trusts and foundations will require that organisations applying to them for funding are endorsed by the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) as a Tax Concession Charity (TCC) and/or as a Deductible Gift Recipient (DGR). You can find more information on the ATO website.

Free resources at the Queensland University of Technology

QUT is home to the Australian Centre for Philanthropy and Nonprofit Studies, or ACPNS.  The ACPNS brings together academics and researchers with expertise in philanthropy, nonprofit organisations, and the social economy.

ACPNS also offers teaching programs tailored for students interested in pursuing careers in the management of philanthropic and nonprofit organisations, or in public administration associated with nonprofit organisations.

Also at QUT, the Library provides free access to a rich resource of case studies, research, how-to guides and reports for nonprofits and philanthropists, called The QUT Community Collection for grantseekers, fundraisers and philanthropists.  This Collection was made possible by the QUT Library being granted “cooperating collection” status by the Foundation Center in New York.  It provides public access to:

  • Grantmaker directories (both for Australia and internationally)
  • Books on fundraising and nonprofit management
  • Foundation Center electronic databases (so it is possible to see which US foundations for instance support in Australia in the different cause areas and get their contact details, history of grants into this country and so on).

Please link to The QUT Community Collection for grantseekers, fundraisers and philanthropists, or visit in person at QUT’s Gardens Point Campus.

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