Lead researcher Dr Wendy Scaife said ‘life changing moments’ were a key factor among the 40 people interviewed who had each set up philanthropic structures.
“We found decisions to set up foundations often came from people taking stock of what life and money was about, closing chapters in their lives such as moving on from business careers, or windfall events such as gaining an inheritance,” she said.
“We found too that seasoned business folk or the middle-aged or older were asking themselves ‘now what? We’ve raised our children – they’re independent – we’ve got a capacity to give – should we?’
“People also want their life experience to be of use to others so they channel not just money but energy and contacts into something that’s important to both the community and to themselves, be that medical research, the arts, Indigenous needs, education – their personal passion,” Dr Scaife said.
Dr Scaife said there were a variety of structures to enable people to give and the one they chose depended upon how much money they were giving, the time they had available and how involved they wanted to be in making grants.
She said the research showed those who set up foundations were often more engaged with their giving and gave larger, more consistent and considered donations than they previously would have done.
“Studies have identified that Australians who plan their giving donate four times as much as spontaneous givers,” she said.
“There’s a need for more philanthropic dollars in Australia and it’s worth noting that people surveyed link their foundation with fulfilment, with a life well lived and with using what they have to achieve something beyond themselves.”
The research was supported by The Perpetual Foundation, The EF& SL Gluyas Trust and the Edward Corbould Charitable Trust.
Perpetual’s general manager, Philanthropy, Andrew Thomas said there were more than 5,000 charitable foundations operating in Australia, including individual charitable trusts, corporate trusts, endowment sub-funds in trustee companies and community foundations to name a few.
He said would-be philanthropists often didn’t know how to make the leap from ad hoc donations to sustainable giving and advised people to be clear about the outcomes they were seeking and to get advice on creating a structure that would help them achieve their goals.
He also said the study provided crucial insights for non-profits seeking support from private donors.
“The insights in this study, around why people give and the outcomes they are looking for, will help organisations that are seeking to tap into new sources of philanthropic funding.”
The research findings will be delivered at the Fundraising Institute Australia on the Gold Coast on 29 February.
Australia’s generosity dips, but not all gloom
About The Australian Centre for Philanthropy and Nonprofit Studies (ACPNS)
ACPNS brings to the community the benefits of teaching, research, technology and service relevant to the philanthropic and nonprofit communities.
About Perpetual Philanthropic Services
Perpetual is one of the largest managers of private charitable foundations in Australia, with $1.2 billion in funds under management (as at 30 June 2011). Perpetual is trustee to more than 450 charitable trusts that support medical, social, environmental, religious, cultural and educational causes. www.perpetual.com.au/philanthropy
Media contact: Rose Trapnell, QUT media officer, 07 3138 2361 or 0407 585 901