Besen Family Foundation

A family endeavour

17 August 2023

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Debbie Dadon, Besen Family Foundation Chair, reflects on the power of collaboration, women’s leadership and next-generation philanthropy to effect real and lasting change.

Part of the AEGN’s mission is to deepen members’ understanding of the many ways their philanthropy can support the environment — ultimately to maximise their impact. To this end, we produce a regular podcast series where members share stories of effective leadership for our planet, climate and future.

Debbie Dadon generously shared her story with AEGN CEO Amanda Martin in July 2023. Key take-aways from their conversation follow.

To listen to the episode and access a full transcript and show notes, head to our podcast page.

Find your spark — then start!

Debbie’s was the opportunity to double the Besen Family Foundation’s impact through the David Thomas Challenge. “It was an incredible way of seeing how funding the environment could really be making a difference.” (The challenge raised $28.1 million for biodiversity conservation programs and projects.)

Collaborate to build powerful movements

The Besen Family Foundation played a role in a major win for the environment with its efforts to stop the LNG import terminal at Western Port Bay in Victoria in 2021 — an effort that succeeded thanks to the combined power of the community sector and philanthropy, and smart, strategic advocacy.

Apply a gender (and climate) lens to your giving

Debbie’s involvement with Australians Investing in Women early on in her philanthropy highlighted the important of applying a gender lens to her giving, including in the climate space. Women and girls experience the greatest impacts of climate change; they are also vital agents of climate action within their communities. For more, see our Climate Lens.

Embrace next-gen philanthropy

“We had a strategy day where we looked at wanting to make sure that the foundation’s work was meaningful and relevant to the next generation. I think that we’ve been very fortunate that that third generation is bringing their ideas to the table and we’re very happy to embrace them and be led by them.”

Prioritise core funding

“Multi-year funding can be extremely effective for organisations; it gives them that security that they know they can plan for the future. And so, we often do multi-year funding with the foundation, and I personally will do that too.”

Align your investments

“We have an environmental and social goals overlay with our corpus and we do look at impact investing with our corpus as well. So, for example, we invested in the Murray-Darling Basin Water Fund, which has done some incredible work … we have some investments in solar farms … aligning the values of our giving together with our investing in the corpus has been an incredible opportunity for us.”

Learn from others

“The opportunity to connect with an organisation like the AEGN is fantastic because even if you don’t have a foundation, you can learn a lot more about giving strategically and effectively, collaborating with other funders. I think that would be the most important thing — to have that opportunity to see what others are doing.”

Aligning the values of our giving together with our investing in the corpus has been an incredible opportunity for us.

Debbie Dadon, Besen Family Foundation Chair

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