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.
Angela Whitbread generously shared her story with AEGN CEO Amanda Martin in October 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.
We’re part of something bigger
“I belong on this Earth [and with that] comes a sense of custodianship and a sense of supporting not just human beings, but also the flora and the fauna, which are our kin. I read recently that the ecosystems that surround us, they’re the organs of our body, and that really resonated with me, because we need them.”
“When you start seeing bulldozers move through remnant forests, and you know that in those forests there are echidnas, bandicoots, that these forests are feeding sources for flocks of birds … this is not just an individual feeling of anxiety; we’re breathing in the pain of the world. That gives us information about what is going on in the world, and that also can give us the power to act in the world.”
“There’s one thing I do know after all these years: I can’t solve the problem — my individual effort really doesn’t mean a lot. But together with others, it does make a difference. Playing my part is important, but it’s only important when I collaborate with others.”
Be guided by your values
“I take the path of via negativa, and that means that I often look at what I don’t want to fund … so there are areas that I don’t play in, because they don’t align with who I am as a person, and they are not congruent with my values … through that process of eliminating certain areas, it becomes clear to me where I can make a difference and where it is true for me.”
Philanthropy’s true power
“Whenever I fund something that’s related to a particular species or an animal, I start to feel that connection … and that’s where philanthropy can have power because where I put my money, that environment and that species becomes more familiar to me. And in that familiarity and the observation and the learning, I feel a deeper connection.”
On achieving change
“I think the politics will change when the human spirit and the culture changes … We need a change in our mindset. We need to understand that we’re not the only species here, we need to start thinking about power with others, including non-humans, not power over.”
On having enough
“Having more than you need is a responsibility and it’s a form of energy … you don’t need to hold on to all that energy, it’s too much. It’s great to be in that flow and in a river of giving.”
That’s where philanthropy can have power because where I put my money, that environment and that species becomes more familiar to me. And in that familiarity and the observation and the learning, I feel a deeper connection.
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