Charlie hunting millionaire angels

Resource type: News

The Sunday Mail (Qld) | [ View Original Source (opens in new window) ]

by Daryl Passmore

AUSTRALIA’S biggest philanthropist will recruit some of Queensland’s richest people for a “committee of angels” to raise tens of millions of dollars a year for charity.

KEEPS ON GIVING: American billionaire and philanthropist Charles ‘Chuck’ Feeney. PIC. Rob Maccoll Source: The Sunday Mail (Qld)

American billionaire Charles “Chuck” Feeney has already approached about a dozen of the state’s most generous philanthropists to join forces on key Queensland projects.

Mr Feeney, who has donated about $5.5 billion through his Atlantic Philanthropies foundation, including $500 million in Australia, is proposing to establish a network of 10 to 20 big donors in each state and territory who will meet once or twice a year.

Work has started in Tasmania and NSW, where money is being raised for specific projects.

Queensland will be next.

Toowoomba developer Clive Berghofer, who has already given $10 million to the Queensland Institute of Medical Research, confirmed he has had early talks with Mr Feeney.

Other likely candidates include Graeme Wood, founder of the Wotif.com online accommodation booking company.

The 64-year-old last year topped The Sunday Mail’s Queensland Big Givers list with a $15 million donation to establish the Global Change Institute research centre at the University of Queensland. 

Mr Wood and Wotif.com co-founder Andrew Brice, 67, have also committed $18 million to a UQ endowment fund.

The Atlantic Philanthropies group will also want to talk to Queensland’s richest man, mining magnate Clive Palmer, whose wealth is estimated at more than $6 billion. 

He last year promised $6 million over six years to expanding the Duke of Edinburgh Award youth development and leadership program.

Professor Myles McGregor-Lowndes, director of QUT’s Centre for Philanthropy and Non-Profit Studies, said Mr Feeney’s “Giving While Living Networks” initiative was “stunning leadership in philanthropy”.

“It takes good fundraising  peers asking peers to contribute to the common good  to a new level,” he said. Queensland had traditionally trailed Victoria and NSW in philanthropy, he said. “The gap is starting to close and this will certainly help.”

Mr Feeney, who turned 80 yesterday, made a fortune from a duty-free shopping chain and has poured 99.9 per cent of it into his foundation.

Australia’s greatest-ever philanthropist, his donations include more than $270 million to scientific and medical projects in Queensland.

The networks would use the same leveraging model adopted by Mr Feeney, where donations are at least matched by government funding and cash or in-kind contributions raised by the organisation seeking support.

David Kennedy, director of Atlantic Philanthropies in Australia, said: “Imagine if every year, in every state, you had 20 families or individuals coming together and putting, say, $25 million in the pot. Every year in every state … there’s a $100 million project that starts.”

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