Feeney’s New Formula for Giving

Resource type: News

The Australian | [ View Original Source (opens in new window) ]

By Jill Rowbotham


Encouraging responses to pilot philanthropy projects at the University of Tasmania and the University of New South Wales have reinforced American billionaire Chuck Feeney’s new strategy for donating.


Mr Feeney, 80, is renowned for the $500 million he has donated to medical research facilities in Australia in the past 13 years. It is always a condition of a grant made by his foundation, The Atlantic Philanthropies, that institutions to which it donates find matching funding.


But in the past three months Mr Feeney has held talks with local high net worth individuals to encourage them to join him in Giving While Living networks, collaborating on donations to various projects, Atlantic’s Australian director, David Kennedy says.


“This is Mr Feeney’s way of encouraging other philanthropists to come on board,” Dr Kennedy said. “[And] he is seeing if we can at the same time train the grantees in the art and science of fundraising. So we are trying to develop more understanding on both sides, the giving side and the grantee side.”


New projects were announced earlier this year at the University of Tasmania and UNSW. In Tasmania, the aim is to fund a new phase of the Menzies Research Institute for $90 million. The university has committed $15 million, the state government $15m, and the Federal government $45m. Atlantic has committed $10m on the basis that Australian donors stump up the other $5m.


Likewise, with the Kirby Institute at UNSW, where the funding required is $80m, a $60 million committment has come from the university, and the state and Federal governments. Atlantic has committed $10m on the basis that another $10m comes from philanthropists.


“Both projects are new, but are already attracting interest,” Dr Kennedy said. “When those are successful we have some other projects we are considering, most likely in Queensland and Victoria.”


Mr Feeney made a fortune out of duty free shopping starting in the 1960s, but decided to give it all away in his lifetime. His interest in Australia dates to his friendship with the late Brisbane-born tennis player Ken Fletcher, with whom he visited Queensland in the early 1990s. About half of the funds Atlantic has donated in Australia have gone to Queensland institutions.


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University of New South Wales and Menzies Research Institute are Atlantic grantees.

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Giving While Living, Menzies, Queensland, The Atlantic Philanthropies