AEGN

About us

The Australian Environmental Grantmakers Network harnesses the power of philanthropy to help protect our environment and build a sustainable future.

About us

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

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

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. 

Community organisations

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. 

Philanthropic funding

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.

Revenue sources of Australian Charitable sector.

Our values

Our values guide how we work, partner, hold events and develop our strategy. We are:

  1. Ethical in all we do
  2. Respectful of our partners, practitioners, experts and each other
  3. Collaborative in the way we work and recognise outcomes
  4. Inspiring in our activities and outreach
  5. Sustainable in our day-to-day work
  6. Ambitious in our programming
  7. Focused in our strategy
  8. 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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. We build the profile of environmental giving in philanthropic and other sectors.
  4. We focus on growing philanthropy and investment for a sustainable Australia.
  5. 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 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 US Environment Grantmakers Association 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 US Environment Grantmakers Association 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. 

Our timeline

From an event in 2008 until now, the AEGN has a rich history of environmental grantmaking.

This timeline is in reverse chronological order.

October 2020The Environmental Giving Pledge campaign to raise $50 million in five years reaches $120 million.
September 2008Field trip with 15 members will travel to Gondwana Link in Western Australia
to look at best practise environmental conservation and restoration for six
days.

Amanda attended the US Environmental Grantmakers Association Retreat and
Conference in New York.
August 2008Board meeting
July 2008Board meeting held to discuss a Board member resignation, the content of
Board and governance policies, the need to expand Board membership and
the 2007/08 financial reports.
Arnold Bloch Leibler attended the meeting to discuss the AEGN’s Deductible Gift Recipient application.
Annual Symposium held with over 40 people attending and seven speakers.
Members: 63
June 2008Registered for GST.
Fifth newsletter distributed.
Annual Report and membership renewals distributed to members and friends (approximately 150 sent).
Presented at the Myer philanthropic services event to give people in
philanthropy ideas on how climate change funding is possible and effective.
Board meeting held to formally accept the 2008/09 budget and to discuss
priorities in the strategic plan.
May 2008Ted Smith — EO of the US based Henry P Kendall Foundation speaks with approximately 20 members for a special event.
Board meeting held to discuss the Executive Officer’s performance review, the
2008/09 budget, membership policy, climate change working group, tracking
the field survey, the Annual Symposium and Simon Herd appointed as the Treasurer.
Simon then reviewed the finance policies and procedures and drafted the finance and governance policies and procedures.
April 2008Climate Change and Philanthropy Seminar held in Sydney.
Forth newsletter distributed.
Board meeting held for the first time to approve members , discuss working
group structures, the tracking the field survey and the Annual Symposium.
Part-time accountant appointed.
Members: 52 (including 14 sustaining members)
March 2008The AEGN becomes a Company Limited by Guarantee. Board members are:
– Martin Copley
– Mark Wootton
– Jill Reichstein
– Simon Herd
– Steve Mathews
– Henrietta Marrie
New ABN issued by ATO for Incorporated Association and previous ABN cancelled.
Income Tax Exempt Charity application lodged with the ATO.
Climate Change and Philanthropy Seminar held with over 40 people in
Melbourne.
Website launched with a public and members’ only section.
Field trip to the Yarra River.
February 2008Field trip with Patrick Johnson from Walter and Duncan Foundation in Canada.
Executive Officer and Office Manager begin working four days and three days a week.
Third newsletter distributed.
Water Seminar held with over 35 participants and Professor Peter Cullen.
Sydney seminar held to introduce the AEGN and environmental grantmaking with Professor Ian Lowe and Rose Letwin Chair and founder of the Wilburforce Foundation in the US.
Steering Committee meeting held and signed papers to constitute the AEGN
as a Company Limited by Guarantee and agree on future workshops and
work of the AEGN.
January 2008Ernst & Young pro-bono auditors visit the AEGN offices.
Logo and brand designed.
December 2007Second newsletter distributed to approximately 150 people in philanthropy.
November 2007Steering Committee meeting held to consider the draft strategic plan and future of the
AEGN.
Three year strategic plan developed.
Agreed to increase the days of employment for the Executive Officer and Office Manager.
Draft constitution goes to the ATO for consideration.
Members: 36 (one in Queensland, two in Western Australia, five in New South Wales and 28 in Victoria).
October 2007Annual Symposium held with over 30 people and six speakers including Rose Letwin from the Wilburforce Foundation in the US.
Steering Committee meeting held to discuss Annual Symposium and future financial
sustainability of the AEGN.
September 2007Steering Committee meeting held and approved draft constitution.
First newsletter distributed.
August 2007Steering Committee meeting held to discuss constitution and other matters.
Ernst & Young agree to become the AEGN’s pro-bono auditors.
Steering Committee meeting held to confirm 2007/08 budget.
July 2007An Executive Officer and Office Manager are employed to work two days each per week.
Arnold Bloch Leibler produces a draft constitution.
Members: 15
June 2007Office set up at Level 1, 39 Little Collins Street, Melbourne.
Members begin to join.
May 2007Meeting with Arnold Bloch Leibler to continue to discuss legal structure.
ABN issued by ATO as an Unincorporated Association.
April 2007Steering Committee meeting held to continue to discuss the legal structure of the
AEGN.
Mail out to interested trusts, foundations and individuals to join as members.
March 2007Steering Committee meeting held to discuss Arnold Bloch Leibler’s questions regarding setting up the AEGN as an Incorporated Association or a Company Limited by Guarantee.
It was agreed that the Poola Foundation would provide pro-bono support by offering the services of their Executive Officer Amanda Martin.
February 2007Steering Committee meeting held to discuss set up of the AEGN.
Engaged the services of Arnold Bloch Leibler to assist in the set up of the AEGN.
We have our founding members made up of 14 individuals, trusts and foundations.
Discussions on setting up a Brisbane branch.
October 2005Survey of trusts and foundations to check their interest in an Environment Grantmakers Association and ability to support a conference.
June 2005Meeting held with The Mullum Trust, The Myer Foundation, Poola Foundation,
The Ian Potter Foundation, Reichstein Foundation, Spinifex Trust to consider the
legal requirements and organisational issues in setting up an Environment Grantmakers Association in Australia.
April 2005Meeting held with The Mullum Trust, The Myer Foundation, Poola Foundation,
The Ian Potter Foundation, Reichstein Foundation, Spinifex Trust to further discuss
the concept of setting up a an Environment Grantmakers Association.
February 2005Meeting held with The Mullum Trust, The Myer Foundation, Poola Foundation,
The Ian Potter Foundation, Reichstein Foundation, Spinifex Trust to discuss the
recommendations coming from participants of the Kauai field trip. It was
agreed that we would attempt to set up an Australian type EGA.
October 2004Amanda Martin, Poola Foundation, Barry Traill, The Myer Foundation and Martin
Copley, Spinifex Trust attended the annual US Environment Grantmakers Association conference in Kauai, Hawaii. Several recommendations came from this group which can be
summarised as:
– setting up an Australian Environment Grantmakers Association would be highly beneficial in increasing effective giving to the environment in Australia.
– major Australian Foundations to be encouraged to join the US Environment Grantmakers Association.
– continue to build relationships with US environment grantmakers (and specific tasks are suggested).
– consider inviting overseas speakers to talk about effective, innovative and creative environmental grantmaking.
– investigate the establishment of an Australian foundation for environment and social justice.
September 2003At the invitation of the US Environment Grantmakers Network, Charles Lane, The Myer Foundation; Kate Kennedy, Pratt Foundation; Mark Wootton, Poola Foundation; Martin Copley, Spinifex Trust and Tom Healey, The Ian Potter Foundation attended the annual US Environment Grantmakers Association conference held in Toronto, Canada.

Andrew Campbell from Land and Water Australia and David Lindenmeyer from the Australian National University also attended and presented papers outlining the State of the Environment in Australia.
February 2003The Ian Potter Foundation, The Myer Foundation, Poola Foundation and Pratt Foundation began speaking about setting up something similar to the US Environment Grantmakers Association.
Reichstein Foundation set up an informal Green Donors Circle with around 10 donors or trusts and foundations.
Green Donors Circle held three environment grantmaking workshops to showcase environmental grantmaking in Australia
November 2002Leslie Biensen and Gary Tabor (formerly Wilburforce Foundation) both from the US print a booklet called Australia’s Conservation Paradox: A report for the International Conservation Community outlining opportunities for US funders to consider giving to conservation issues in Australia.

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 amanda@aegn.org.au

You can also contribute directly to our gift fund:

Account details for deposits

AEGN Gift Fund
BSB: 313 140
Account: 1200 6345

Our supporters

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

  • Angophora Fund
  • Diversicon Environmental Foundation
  • FWH Foundation
  • Josette Wunder
  • Limb Family Foundation
  • 8 other leading supporters

Sustaining supporters $4500 to $14,499

  • 5point Foundation
  • Alexander Gosling
  • Grant Mathews
  • Isaacson Davis Foundation
  • Lenko family Foundation
  • Marg Henderson
  • Norman Family
  • Rendere
  • Rose Gilder
  • Ross Knowles Foundation
  • Spinifex Trust
  • The Duggan Foundation
  • The Garry White Foundation
  • The Horizon Foundation
  • The Jaramas Foundation
  • The Mullum Trust
  • The Myer Foundation
  • The William Buckland Foundation
  • The Yulgilbar Foundation
  • Upotipotpon Foundation
  • 13 other sustaining supporters

+30 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.

Josette Wunder

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

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 staff

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.

Our partners

Pro Bono

ABL logo
Arnold Bloch Leibler
Lawyers and advisors
BoardOutlook
AEGN is using BoardOutlook to conduct an annual evaluation on the performance of the Board. In 2021, we will benefit from an up to $50,000 grant under the BoardOutlook not-for-profit program.

NGO discounts

Calibre Nine
Calibre Nine
PrintTogether

Other

Australian Communities Foundation
Australian Communities Foundation
Gozer Studio
Gozer Studio

Contact us

e info@aegn.org.au

Melbourne

p 03 9663 7844

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.

Sydney

Level 3, 31 Alfred Street , Sydney NSW 2000

Become a member

We exist to support more people to give more to the environment. For the benefit of all.