The power of philanthropy

More than ever before, people across the country are coming together to reverse global warming and restore nature.

The power of philanthropy

Environmental philanthropy in Australia is diverse and vibrant, and is working to solve some of our most urgent and complex environmental challenges from climate change to biodiversity decline.

The power of philanthropy lies in its unique combination of strengths: Its long-term perspective, its ability to effectively collaborate with and empower others — scaling up collective impact — and its willingness to take risks and invest in innovative solutions.

Taking a long-term view

Philanthropy is not beholden to electoral cycles or shareholders.

This independence enables philanthropists to take an agile, long-term view in funding and incubating bold ideas with real and lasting positive impacts. While it cannot match government in terms of total resources available, philanthropy can achieve game-changing impact by being strategic and scaling up the most workable solutions.

Australia’s new national independent water and catchment policy centre is a prime example. In 2020, the centre was given the go ahead thanks to a coalition of 15 philanthropic funders, led by The Myer Foundation and The Ian Potter Foundation, committing more than $31 million to ensure the centre’s establishment. The centre will focus on improving the way decisions are made about water and catchments across the country to help sustainably manage this scarce and precious resource, now and into the future.

Philanthropy has many advantages, including a preference for long-term vision over shorter-term interests, taking a proactive rather than reactive approach, and seeking to foster cooperation rather than competition.

Amanda Martin OAM, CEO, AEGN

Members making a change
Members on a field trip.

Collaborating for collective impact

By its very nature, philanthropy is about working in partnership. Funders often work together towards shared outcomes like environmental protection, in the case of environmental giving.

Strategic partnering with other funders, and with other sectors, provides opportunities to innovate, scale up collective impact and find new ways of addressing increasingly complex environmental challenges.

For example, relatively small amounts of funding from a coalition of small and large donors was used to stop tree clearing in Queensland in 2004. Then in 2018, the Tree Clearing Challenge raised $1.7 million of philanthropic investment and ultimately leveraged a $500 million Queensland Government commitment to a land restoration fund.

One of the AEGN’s most important roles is enabling the co-funding of projects, providing a platform for our members to share and invite others to support projects they are passionate about. In 2019/20, 55 projects worth $12.8 million went ahead as a result of members contributing via the Project Clearinghouse – one of many ways in which members collaborate.

We are on the ground supporting the projects we are passionate about.

Our members identify and co-fund the people and organisations making our future a reality.

Amanda Martin OAM, CEO, AEGN

Empowering the community

Philanthropy empowers the community and its leaders and has a long track record of building capacity in movements, supporting advocacy to achieve major outcomes and ensuring impact for investment.

Philanthropy plays a vital role in supporting the actions of ordinary Australians as they repair landscapes, advocate for better policies, make life changes, use their purchasing power, act together in communities and enjoy and protect nature.

More than ever before, people across the country are coming together to reverse global warming and restore nature. Philanthropy can help lift this momentum by providing the confidence and capital to keep working and dreaming to make protection of the environment a shared reality.

With adequate and strategic funding, philanthropy can partner with a powerful, skilled and effective community sector to achieve things that the public and corporate sectors cannot do.

Amanda Martin OAM, CEO, AEGN

Backing innovation

Innovative philanthropy has never been so important to put limited resources to best use.

In this decade, we still have a chance to halt the wave of plant and animal extinctions, reverse the decline in the health of soil, rivers and oceans, and minimise the effects of human-induced climate change. But we need to act urgently.

Human ingenuity and our capacity to evolve has proven time and time again that we can develop solutions to our most pressing challenges. We have the knowledge and the ability to act now. This is a human-induced challenge requiring human-led solutions.

In this context, philanthropy has a unique and vital role to play. We call on the philanthropic sector, and those who want to create a thriving future, to be bigger and bolder in their funding. We need to act now in a courageous and strategic way. We have what it takes to turn this around. That is the power of philanthropy.

We know this is the critical decade for the climate crisis … I like to think that in these unprecedented times, the innovation and the thinking that will come out of it could be a positive.

In all our grantee conversations we are encouraging innovation and good thinking outside of the box.

Hayley Morris, Morris Family Foundation

Hayley Morris
Hayley Morris, Morris Family Foundation

Be a part of something bigger

We need to act now in a courageous and strategic way. We have what it takes to turn this around.