We are a national network of philanthropists, united by our vision for a future where our climate is stable, and people and nature thrive.
In 2008, a small group of Australian philanthropists founded the Australian Environmental Grantmakers Network (AEGN) to create a safe, trusted space to share environmental funding opportunities, insights and experiences.
Today, we are Australia’s peak membership organisation for environmental and climate philanthropy. Our 180+ members are trusts, foundations and individual donors, including long-standing and well-known philanthropic institutions like The Myer Foundation and The Ian Potter Foundation, community foundations and many private philanthropic funds and donors.
In Australia, we’re on the frontline. Droughts, bushfires, heatwaves, floods — we all know they are becoming more frequent and more severe. We can see it; we can feel it. The damage is already in plain view. At the same time, nature is under extreme pressure, with habitat loss and species extinction all increasing at a frightening rate.
To ward off the worst of the climate and biodiversity crises — to create a future worth living — environmental philanthropy has a critical role to play. But it urgently needs more resources. Environmental giving is small for Australian private ancillary funds, and environmental charities continue to receive only 0.5 per cent of revenue acquired by the wider charitable sector.
Considering the scale and complexity of the environmental challenges we face, this is simply not enough.
At the AEGN, it’s our mission to change that, by growing effective funding to the environment and climate so that it’s commensurate with the challenges we face. We do this by supporting our members to give as much as they can, as well as they can, while encouraging others to do the same.
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.
Our strategy, Giving Our All, charts a course to make this vision a reality — and there’s no time to lose. We are living through the most critical decade for the planet, and what we do now matters more than at any other time in history.
Philanthropy has a critical role to play. Since our establishment in 2008, we have seen the powerful impact like-minded environmental and climate 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.
What we do
To achieve change, we work to grow effective funding to the environment and climate in five key ways.
- We work with and inspire philanthropists to build their capacity to give more and give effectively 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 environmental and climate issues.
How we work
Our work is underpinned by our belief that philanthropy combined with excellent science and powerful changemakers can catalyse real and lasting positive change.
We work with the country’s 900-strong network of community organisations and changemakers — the powerhouse behind the change we seek. 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.
We also 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.
- 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
- Respectful and acknowledging of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples
Our strategic plan
We act to protect our land, restore a safe climate and support the natural world to sustain our children and the generations to come. Our vision is a world where people and nature thrive.
Our new three-year strategy, Giving Our All, charts a course to make this vision a reality — and there’s no time to lose. We are living through the most critical decade for the planet, and what we do now matters more than at any other time in history.
Escalating challenges, rising ambition
Our strategic plan details ambitious goals commensurate with the threats we face, and a series of bold initiatives to realise our vision. Our ultimate purpose? To avert catastrophe and create a better world.
As Australia’s peak membership organisation for environmental and climate philanthropy, we are uniquely positioned to channel our members’ energy and commitment into a positive force for the planet.
Source: AEGN member survey April 2023 (n = 73)
Findings from this year’s member survey confirm the AEGN is continuing to make a strong and positive contribution to environmental and climate philanthropy in Australia, helping members to give more, and more effectively.
- Of the 73 respondents, 59 had an aggregated corpus of $3.6 billion in 2021/22 compared to a total of $2 billion in the previous financial year.
- 63 members — representing around a third of the membership — collectively gave $137 million to environmental issues in 2021/22. Even without the full membership’s giving accounted for, this result far exceeds our goal of $122 million for 2021/22, as we work towards a cumulative giving goal of $2.5 billion by 2030.
- 97 per cent of survey respondents told us that their AEGN membership contributed to the effectiveness of their giving.
The AEGN makes us more efficient philanthropists, scaling up our individual capacities so that we can collectively make more of a difference. — Craig Winkler
Our strategic plan Giving Our All — one year on
We are now one year in to the AEGN’s three-year strategy Giving Our All. This plan details ambitious goals commensurate with the environmental challenges we face, plus a series of bold initiatives to realise our vision for the future where our climate is stable, and people and nature thrive.
Integral to this plan is enhanced support for AEGN members to deeply understand and effectively act on these challenges using the full power of the network. To this end, our members achieved some phenomenal wins over the past year, including:
- influencing AGL’s unprecedented board renewal and accelerated exit out of coal;
- combining forces to fund the establishment of the Biodiversity Council;
- influencing the decision to end native forest logging in Victoria ten years earlier than previously planned;
- significantly improving national residential energy efficiency standards;
- helping to secure meaningful changes to the Australian Government’s emissions safeguard mechanism;
- playing a catalytic role in the establishment of the Australian Government’s national Net Zero Authority that will help communities transition away from fossil fuels to clean industries; and
- funding reforestation and other large-scale nature protection and restoration projects in partnership with Traditional Owners across the country.
Following is a summary of how we’re tracking more broadly against our strategic plan’s three main goals (as of June 2023).
Growing our impact
We are growing the amount and impact of giving to climate and the environment.
- We hosted 30 events on critical issues, designed to inform and inspire effective action among the membership.
- We updated the “opportunities and gaps” section of the Climate Change Funding Framework.
- We launched Australia’s first-ever Climate Lens tool in partnership with Philanthropy Australia.
- We began work on a nature funding framework (now published) and effective giving guide.
- We optimised the Project Clearinghouse and Showcase — including by facilitating roundtable discussions between members and peer-approved strategic organisations. Sixty-four projects worth $36.8 million proceeded with member funding support. AEGN members raised at least $6 million towards these projects.
- We held what many members described as our “best conference yet”.
- We set up a First Nations Wisdom Group to help guide our activities and programming for greater impact.
Growing our influence
We are growing our profile and influence to be the go-to organisation for environmental giving.
- We leveraged the Climate Lens to boost our exposure to philanthropists beyond the AEGN’s membership and strengthen our role as a respected thought leader on environmental giving.
- We secured coverage in national and sector publications and newsletters.
- We developed an outreach strategy and hired a staff member (Katerina Gaita) to lead recruitment efforts, resulting in 24 new members joining the AEGN this financial year.
- We recruited an advocacy manager (Jess Feehely) to lead a strategic advocacy program.
- We launched a podcast focused on effective giving for climate and environment.
- We hosted a regular corporate philanthropy community of practice to build relationships with potential corporate members and understand their specific needs and challenges.
- We strengthened relationships with philanthropic intermediaries and other aligned organisations and peaks bodies including Philanthropy Australia; Australian Land Conservation Alliance; Climate Action Network Australia; Groundswell Giving; Australia Philanthropic Services; Equity Trustees; Mutual Trust; Perpetual; and international grantmaker networks.
Strengthening our organisation
We are strengthening our trusted, connected and respected organisation.
- We hired nine new staff members with outstanding skills and experience.
- We implemented new technology and internal systems to improve our efficiency and effectiveness.
- We surveyed our membership and began work on a comprehensive measurement and evaluation framework.
- We achieved a 91.85% member renewal rate.
- We recruited outstanding First Nations leaders to a Wisdom Group.
- We developed annual giving and member targets.
- We recruited fantastic members to a range of steering committees, ensuring a member voice through key activities and projects.
- We secured funding from AEGN members to meet our financial goals for the year.
The inspiring members of the AEGN, the work they are all connected with, and the way they are making a difference by sharing their knowledge, talents and money gives me hope for the future.”
— Sophie Chamberlain, Spinifex Trust
Our operation is entirely funded by our members. Thanks to their incredible generosity, we have the financial resources and the right people to get the job done.
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 2023, we would like to thank:
Ambassador supporters $50,000 or more
- Anna Josephson Foundation
- Blue Sky Environmental Trust
- Gum Tree Foundation
- Lord Mayor’s Charitable Foundation
- Mat Whittingham
- Morris Family Foundation
- Perpetual Foundation
- Rendere Trust
- Spinifex Trust
- The Water Dragon Endowment
- TREE Fund
- +3 other Ambassador supporters
Leading supporters $15,000 to $49,999
- Diversicon Environmental Foundation
- Ferris Family Foundation
- FWH Foundation
- Isaacson Davis Foundation
- Melliodora Fund, Australian Communities Foundation
- Oranges and Sardines Foundation
- Purves Environmental Fund
- Robert Hicks Foundation
- The Ian Potter Foundation
- The Jaramas Foundation
- The Myer Foundation
- The NC & AG Youngman Trust
- +6 other Leading supporters
Sustaining supporters $5,000 to $14,999
- 5point Foundation
- 6A Foundation
- Australian Communities Foundation
- Chris Grubb
- Dawn Wade Foundation
- Ethinvest Foundation
- Grant Mathews
- Josette Wunder
- Lenko Family Foundation
- Marg Henderson
- McLeod Family Foundation
- Nick Fairfax
- Norman Family
- Purryburry Trust
- Rose Gilder
- The Duggan Foundation
- The Garry White Foundation
- The Graeme Wood Foundation
- The Horizon Foundation
- The Keith & Jeannette Ince Fund
- The Mullum Trust
- The William Buckland Foundation
- Trawalla Foundation
- Upotipotpon Foundation
- Vicki Olsson
- +7 other Sustaining supporters
+28 other supporters
Our pro bono partners
Arnold Bloch Leibler Lawyers and advisors
The AEGN uses BoardOutlook to conduct an annual board evaluation and performance activities. We have benefited from a pro-bono grant under the BoardOutlook not-for-profit program.
Supporting our work
To ensure 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. We also encourage you to consider including the AEGN in your will.
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.
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
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.
To find out more about making a three-year pledge to either our ongoing operations or to our sustaining fund , contact the AEGN’s CEO Amanda Martin OAM at firstname.lastname@example.org
You can also contribute directly to our gift fund:
Account details for deposits
AEGN Gift Fund
BSB: 313 140
Account: 1200 6345
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.
— Josette Wunder
Including the AEGN in your will
A truly lasting legacy can be made to the conservation of Australia’s environment by including the AEGN in your will. Your gift will continue the AEGN’s important work of inspiring and growing effective funding to the environment to ensure a future where our climate is stable, and people and nature thrive. The objects and purposes which bind the AEGN provide a framework for the use of all gifts we receive.
Suggested wording to leave a bequest for the AEGN:
“I give to the Australian Environmental Grantmakers Network (AEGN) ABN 75 129 986 116, the sum of (insert dollar amount / percentage of my residuary estate) for its general purposes free of all duties and taxes payable upon or in consequence of my death and I declare that the receipt of its Chief Executive Officer, Treasurer or other authorised officer shall be sufficient discharge to my executors.”
You may wish to express in a way which does not bind the AEGN to your preference for the gift to be directed to the Sustaining Fund:
“I give to the Australian Environmental Grantmakers Network (AEGN) ABN 75 129 986 116, the sum of (insert dollar amount / percentage of my residuary estate). I express the wish but without creating any trust or imposing any binding obligation that my gift be used to support the Australian Environmental Grantmakers Network’s Sustaining Fund free of all duties and taxes payable upon or in consequence of my death and I declare that the receipt of its Chief Executive Officer, Treasurer or other authorised officer shall be sufficient discharge to my executors.”
We invite members to discuss their intentions with us and to seek advice from a solicitor when drafting a last will and testament. If you have already included the AEGN in your will, please let us know so we can extend our thanks for your extraordinary trust in and commitment to our work.
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.