Philanthropy accounts for as much as one billion dollars of giving in Australia each year through as many as 2000 foundations and yet many community organisations have, at best, a vague notion of what philanthropy is and how to access it.

Philanthropy Australia defines philanthropy as “the planned and structured giving of money, time, information, goods and services, voice and influence to improve the well being of humanity and the community.”

And while the term philanthropist may conjure the image of a traditionally-suited business person dispensing family wealth, the reality is that anyone who establishes a structure for planned, long term giving comes under the banner of philanthropy.

Vanessa Meachen, manager of research and training with Philanthropy Australia, the peak body for the philanthropic sector, said that despite the current economic climate, philanthropy is alive and well in Australia and “getting bigger and better all the time”.

She attributed this growth to an increase in corporate philanthropy and the rise of personal philanthropic foundations brought on by legislation creating Prescribed Private Foundations.

“Prescribed Private Funds were a new structure established in 2001 and there have been more than 750 set up since that structure came into being,” Ms Meachen said.

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First published in Fundraising Success magazine

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