Australia’s Top 50 Philanthropic Gifts of All Time

The Top 50 Philanthropic Gifts of All Time have been announced in Melbourne revealing a rich history of ‘giving’ in Australia and the public can now vote online to decide Australia’s Top 10 Gifts.

Peter Winneke (Myer Family Company), Karen Mahlab (Pro Bono Australia), Louise Walsh (Philanthropy Australia) and Federal Social Services Minister Kevin Andrews at the launch of Top 50 Philanthropic Gifts of All Time. 

Representatives of the Myer Family Company, The Myer Foundation and Sidney Myer Fund, Pro Bono Australia, Swinburne University and Philanthropy Australia joined together to showcase Australia’s top philanthropic gifts following an exhaustive public nomination process.

The Coalition Minister for Social Services Kevin Andrews was a guest at the event which was one of his first major Not for Profit events since the Federal Election. Representatives of the organisations named in theTop 50 Gifts also attended.

“The Top 50 Gifts celebrates Australia’s most significant philanthropic achievements from the 1800s until today,” Head of Philanthropic Services for the Myer Family Company, Peter Winneke, said.

“Each gift has been responsible for shaping Australian society, culture and public policy in areas including the arts, environment, health, housing, science and education.”

Many of the gifts celebrated are from well-known names such as The Ian Potter Foundation, Dame Elisabeth Murdoch AC DBE, Vincent Fairfax Family Foundation, Sidney Myer and former Greens leader Dr Bob Brown, while others are from lesser known names, including a gift of $150 from three friends to set up the Tasmanian Land Conservancy.

"We are proud to bring together the top 50 most inspirational philanthropic gifts made in Australia and showcase them to the community,” Winneke said.

“By sharing and celebrating the unique gifts and achievements, we hope to inspire all Australians to give. The Top 50 list highlights the fact that philanthropy is not about the dollar amount of the gift, but the long-lasting impact the gift can have. Philanthropy can be a powerful change agent, and a family foundation can be an extraordinary educational tool for the next generation.”

Projects funded by the gifts include the Heart Foundation, the Walkley Awards, the Parkes Telescope, St Vincent's Institute of Medical Research, the Australian Indigenous Mentoring Experience, the No Interest Loan Scheme (NILS) and the establishment of the Royal Botanic Gardens in Melbourne.

“The Australian philanthropic sector, and the organisations supported, have delivered amazing public benefits to the community,” CEO of Philanthropy Australia, Louise Walsh said.

“We hope that today will inspire many more Australians to support the projects they’re passionate about. Whether you start with $150 or $150,000, you can make a difference.”

Recipients of the Top 50 Philanthropic Gifts of All Time were acknowledged at the launch event at the Wheeler Centre in Melbourne.  

The Australia’s Top 50 Philanthropic Gifts project was established to increase the awareness of Australia’s philanthropic achievements and to capture and promote Australia’s best philanthropic success stories.

The aims include:

  • Demonstrate the difference philanthropy can and has made in the Australian landscape;

  • Create a repository of the most influential grants in Australian history across all sectors;

  • Provide an opportunity for the philanthropic sector to reflect on the generosity of past and  present organisations and individuals;

  • Inform others of impressive historical acts of philanthropy they may not be aware of;

  • Inspire potential donors to take action;

  • Show that giving is accessible to all;

  • Inspire existing donors to do more; and most importantly

  • Generate discussion about philanthropy.

The public can view the full list of the Top 50 and vote for their favourite gift at http://www.probonoaustralia.com.au/top50

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