We are a network of trusts, foundations and individual donors who share a goal of a world in which people and nature thrive.
We offer events, field trips, collaborative funding opportunities, grantmaking tools and networking with over 160 grantmakers from across Australia.
Our mission is to grow effective funding to the environment. As a membership-based organisation, we work with philanthropic funders who want to become more effective in their giving to address environment and climate change issues.
We are one of a core group of funding networks around the world addressing global sustainability. We work with grantmakers to achieve a goal of a world in which people and nature thrive.
Our vision for the future is one where the power of science converges with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people’s millennia of experience to guide the wellbeing of our land. Wildlife is rich and abundant. We act to protect and restore this land. We are proud of our relationship with our land, air, wildlife and water.
We power our country with clean, renewable energy. We have stopped extracting and burning fossil fuels and supported the transition to meaningful jobs in the clean energy economy. We have sustainable community infrastructure such as public transport, public parks and collective gardens. We have access to nature for our wellbeing.
We have a national strategy to protect our environment and it is well supported by strong institutions, laws and resources.
We all have access to clean air and water. We enjoy good food and land that is well cared for. We support our farmers to grow fresh food in ways that regenerate the soil and promote the health of our land and waterways.
We know that our community will be free to enjoy this beautiful country for generations to come.
We are proud of our Australia and proud of our role as guardians of our environment.
A strong and vibrant network
Philanthropy has a unique role to play in helping to make this vision a reality. The AEGN brings funders together to learn about the issues and solutions and share networks and funding opportunities. We provide a supportive, collective space where members can share openly and explore possibilities to enable the most effective giving.
Since our establishment in 2008, we have seen the powerful impact like-minded environment funders can make by collaborating to ensure projects receive the funding they need to succeed, but also by advocating on behalf of the change agents they support. We have built a trusted place where our members learn and share, are inspired and informed, and come together to fund some of the greatest challenges of our times.
It is with thanks to the passion, determination, and vision of our members that we are well and truly more than the sum of our parts. From a hardy band of committed funders who wanted a forum to share and learn about environmental giving to today’s vibrant network of over 165 (as of 2020) donors, large and small, individuals and foundations spread across the country, our network is effective and powerful because of our members. Join us and help protect Australia’s unique natural environment for generations to come.
Our core beliefs
Our work is underpinned by our belief that philanthropy combined with excellent science and powerful changemakers can catalyse real and lasting positive change. We know that lasting change may not happen quickly and that at times we need to stay with this work over many years.
This strategic partnering with other sectors enables us to innovate, scale up our collective impact and find new ways to address increasingly complex environmental challenges.
The powerhouse behind positive action
We work with the country’s 900-strong network of community organisations and changemakers — the powerhouse behind the change we seek. This builds on philanthropy’s long track record of empowering leaders of community organisations and movements for change.
These organisations are the voice of our natural environment. They can show Australians how to personally contribute to sustainability. They can advocate for better policy and legislation to protect our environment. And they can demonstrate how change can happen — fast. With funding behind them, these organisations can achieve a world where people and nature thrive.
Science and experts
We partner with Australia’s scientific and academic experts, many of whom are recognised globally for their contribution to research and practice in conservation and sustainability. And we ensure all of our work is based on latest national and international scientific data, including Australia’s State of the Environment reports.
The fuel for transformative change
Funding is critical — without it, we simply cannot achieve the scale and scope of change needed to reverse global warming and protect nature.
Philanthropy is not beholden to electoral cycles or shareholders, so the sector can take a nimble, long-term view in funding and incubating bold ideas and smart action. While it cannot match government in terms of total resources available, philanthropy can achieve game-changing impact by being strategic, taking risks and piloting and scaling up workable solutions.
Our research shows that environmental charities are a tiny part of the charitable sector by total revenue (revenue from all sources) and by giving revenue (revenue from individual and philanthropic donations). In 2016, environmental charities in Australia only received 2.3 per cent ($187 million) of all charitable sector donations and we estimate that around $34 million of this came from structured giving. Of total revenue for all charities including government grants and fees for service, the environment received just 0.59 per cent or $729 million. Considering the scale and complexity of the environmental challenges we face, this is simply not enough.
Time for strategic, super-charged giving
We need a new level of investment in practical environmental projects and in the advocacy that underpins them to accelerate the momentum for change.
Our values guide how we work, partner, hold events and develop our strategy. We are:
- Ethical in all we do
- Respectful of our partners, practitioners, experts and each other
- Collaborative in the way we work and recognise outcomes
- Inspiring in our activities and outreach
- Sustainable in our day-to-day work
- Ambitious in our programming
- Focused in our strategy
- Innovative in our thinking
What we do
To achieve change, we work to grow effective funding to the environment and sustainability in five key ways.
- We work with and inspire philanthropists to build their capacity to give more and give powerfully by providing a safe space to explore their approach to giving and develop potential collaborations.
- We strengthen the philanthropic sector’s skills and knowledge in environmental giving by connecting funders with trusted experts and information, and opportunities to network and learn.
- We build the profile of environmental giving in philanthropic and other sectors.
- We focus on growing philanthropy and investment for a sustainable Australia.
- We showcase innovative approaches to giving, collaborating and addressing environment issues.
Our origin story
The AEGN was an idea whose time had come. Ironically, the initial impetus came from an American and an Englishman.
In the early 2000s visiting American Gary Tabor, then a staffer working for the Wilburforce Foundation, found himself unable to locate any Australian environmental philanthropists. He produced a booklet titled Australia’s Conservation Paradox: A Report for the International Conservation Community outlining opportunities for US funders to consider giving to conservation issues in Australia. This booklet was noticed by Martin Copley, an Englishman-turned-West Australian and a major funder of nature conservation in Australia as founder and chair of Australian Wildlife Conservancy, who contacted Gary to let him know that environmental funders did exist in Australia.
Gary urged Martin to attend the next US Environmental Grantmakers Association (EGA) annual retreat and in 2003 Martin went along, accompanied by a trustee from each of the Poola and Ian Potter Foundations, the CEO of The Myer Foundation and a staff member from the Pratt Foundation. Enormously impressed by the collaborative spirit and energy of funders in the EGA, this group of five resolved to explore setting up a similar organisation in Australia.
2004 saw Martin back at the EGA retreat, this time in Hawaii and this time accompanied by the Poola Foundation staffer Amanda Martin and Myer Foundation adviser Dr Barry (BJ) Traill. Again they all came back excited by the possibility they could see for a similar coming together of environmental philanthropists in Australia.
The travellers identified several aspects to what made the EGA gatherings so inclusive, vibrant and inspiring:
- It was a funders-only event: there was no hassling from NGOs or businesses and no pitching of projects, creating a safe space for open discussion and dialogue.
- The discussions were informed by presentations from the top experts in the field, generating strategic insights into both environmental problems and solutions.
- There was a long history of cooperation among foundations with shared objectives and approaches, and a spirit of sharing and collaboration.
Convinced of the potential value of an Australian version, Poola trustees Eve Kantor and Mark Wootton asked Amanda Martin to convene a gathering of Australian environmental funders and hold a field trip with funders to Cape York.
Meanwhile, back in Melbourne, two other foundations had already joined forces to bring funders together to fund some big environmental problems that could not be solved by any of them alone. The Reichstein Foundation and the Mullum Trust had formed an informal environmental donors circle, whose biggest success was funding a campaign that stopped the catastrophic land clearing then happening in Queensland back in 2004, with major contributions coming from the Poola and The Myer Foundations and, from Sydney, the Purves Environmental Fund.
In July 2006 Amanda coordinated a symposium at the beautiful Myer family home, Cranlana. It was attended by all the foundations already mentioned plus a whole range of other funders interested in environmental giving – a total of 80 people. They heard from Bruce Lourie from the Canadian Environmental Grantmakers Network, Professors Tim Flannery and Ian Lowe, then President of the Australian Conservation Foundation. They workshopped how an Australian Environmental Grantmakers Network could function, and by the end of the day the AEGN was born, founded on similar principles to its North American colleagues: A safe space for funders, access to expert information, and opportunities to collaborate. These principles, along with the collegial relationship with overseas ‘siblings’, have remained fundamental to our mission and practice.
Two years later the legal and administrative arrangements for the organisation were in place, and in 2018 we celebrated 10 years of operation. As of March 2019 there have been 12 conferences and symposia, 10 field trips and too many brilliant speakers to count talking about the critical environmental issues of our time. Membership has grown from 0 to 165 (in 2020), and research suggests that $120 million of additional funding to the environment has been generated, between June 2017 and October 2020. A considerable portion of those funds have combine from collaborations between members or inspired by the AEGN network.
Sadly, though, the environmental challenges have continued to grow, with climate change, habitat loss and species extinction all increasing at a frightening rate. Our work is far from done, as it ramps up its work with its members to turn these trajectories around.
Resourcing our work
Donations and grants: Our operation is entirely funded by our members. Thanks to their incredible generosity, over the years, we have had the financial resources and the right people to get the job done.
Support our work
If you would like to ensure that we continue our important catalytic work to grow environmental philanthropy, we encourage you to consider making a three-year pledge to either our ongoing operations or to our Sustaining Fund.
To find out more contact AEGN’s Amanda Martin OAM, CEO at email@example.com
You can also contribute directly to our gift fund:
Account details for deposits
AEGN Gift Fund
BSB: 313 140
Account: 1200 6345
We completely rely on our members for funding for our operations. We are deeply grateful to the many donors who have supported us over the years. In 2020, we would like to thank:
Ambassador supporters $49,500 or more
- Lord Mayor’s Charitable Foundation
- Morris Family Foundation
- Perpetual Foundation
- The Ian Potter Foundation
- The Ross Trust
- 1 other ambassador supporter
Leading supporters $15,000 to $49,499
- Diversicon Environmental Foundation
- FWH Foundation
- Josette Wunder
- The Wiggs Foundation
- 13 other leading supporters
Sustaining supporters $4500 to $14,499
- Alexander Gosling
- Norman Family
- Paul and Michelle Gilding
- Rose Gilder
- Ross Knowles Foundation
- Ryan Cooper Family Foundation
- Spinifex Trust
- The Duggan Foundation
- The Garry White Foundation
- The Horizon Foundation
- The Jaramas Foundation
- The Myer Foundation
- The William Buckland Foundation
- The Yulgilbar Foundation
- 14 other sustaining supporters
+114 other supporters
Security of income allows organisations to confidently make long term plans. We are supporting the sustaining fund to help give the AEGN this confidence.
Robin Craig and Mick Boyle, The Jaramas Foundation
The sustaining fund
The sustaining fund has been established to help build a stable and predictable income base for the AEGN. Donations to the sustaining fund are invested using ethical and environmental guidelines, and the fund is independently managed with a high level of commercial and financial prudence.
Generally, each year 10 per cent of the fund value will be contributed toward our annual operating budget. If you are thinking about spending down the funds in your foundation or you believe in building the capacity of the organisations you trust, we invite you to donate to the sustaining fund.
Donations of $50,000 or more are most welcome.
If you too have benefited from the AEGN’s hard work and you share their goal of rapidly growing support to the environment from philanthropy, please follow my lead in contributing to the sustaining fund.
The $1 million sustaining fund challenge
In April 2018, a very generous, anonymous Australian philanthropist offered to match contributions to the sustaining fund of $50,000 or more, up to a total of $1 million. These contributions had to be pledged or made before 25 June 2019.
Thanks to 16 generous members we exceeded our $1 million fundraising goal. All 16 contributions of $50,000 or more have been matched by our generous philanthropist and in 2019, the sustaining fund was officially established with a healthy balance of just over $2 million. This is providing an invaluable financial contribution to our operating costs for the next 10 years.
Contributors to the sustaining fund
Our heartfelt thanks to the following generous contributors to our sustaining fund:
- ACME Foundation
- Bindy Gross
- Garry White Foundation
- John Sevior and Rebecca Gorman
- Josette Wunder
- Limb Family Foundation
- Lord Mayor’s Charitable Foundation through ADP, ME and LA Martin Charitable Fund
- Myer family members – Yulgilbar Foundation, Kate & Stephen Shelmerdine Family Foundation, The Myer Foundation
- The Duggan Foundation
- The Ross Trust
- Rose Gilder
- Sue Mathews and Mark Burford
- The Jaramas Foundation
- Vicki Olsson
- Several anonymous contributors including the instigator of the $1 million sustaining fund challenge.
Our Board are members who bring a broad and extensive range of philanthropic, environmental and business knowledge to our governance.
Voted in by membership, the Board steers our course with an understanding of the urgency of our mission, the role of philanthropy, and the requirements for a strong and sustainable network.
Our team are professionals from various backgrounds who support members in all aspects of their environmental giving, including solutions, networking and organisational effectiveness.
As a team, we aim to help you address environmental issues, implement solutions and advocate for positive change.
Level 6, 126 Wellington Parade East Melbourne, Victoria 3002
We share office space with the Community of Giving. Ask one of the team to help you.
Level 1, 1 Smail Street Ultimo, New South Wales 2007
We share office space with WWF-Australia. Ask reception to call an AEGN team member.