The call was made a little while back by Dick Smith in a fairly direct way that there are very few business people down south dedicating some or most of their wealth to others who need it. You can find some gems in the north like Michael Jackson who moon walked away $350m of his wealth, and Buffet dishing out a lazy $30b in the northern hemisphere.
According to the 2011 Credit Suisse Global Wealth report, Australia has a median wealth of US$222,000 which is the highest in the world, and Australian is the second wealthiest country in the world behind Switzerland on an average basis. Pretty impressive.
Beyond the figures it’s inspiring to remember that the core meaning of philanthropy is the love of humanity ….nourishing, developing, or enhancing humanity in the sense of “what it is to be human,” or “human potential” (Wikipedia).
What’s not so inspiring is the reality that rainforests continue to be knocked out at 1.5 acres per second, or that malnutrition remains the root cause of the deaths of 2.6m kids each year. I’d like to think that on the deathbed of anyone who has amassed a few mill…..that they have achieved their life purpose not only in commercial terms but are at peace given actions taken relating to the authentic needs of humanity.
There is so much potential for money to do so much good on the planet, and it’s time that we harnessed this fully.
The good news is that there is growth in the sector, such as community foundation clearing houses, cutting edge groups popping up like Changemakers Australia and Social Ventures Australia, and maturation of Philanthropy Australia. I can remember visiting the office when it was staffed by one part timer some 20 years ago.
But clearly a gap if not a gulf remains between those with excess capital and the raw need for it. What else can we do beyond the suggested naming and shaming of those who don’t meet expectations? Here are a couple of concepts worth considering that may be more palatable.
The timing is about right to develop and resource vehicle(s) to:
1. deliver a quantum leap in the magnitude of philanthropic funds distributed in the southern hemisphere – with a longer term target that every business person offers x% of their net wealth back to humanity and/or the environment.
2. bring together business people dedicated to acquire/start up/govern new ventures designed to return 100% of net profit toward philanthropic aims
If either of these appeal or if your organisation is willing to consider seeding or incubating these iniatives I’d very much like to hear from you.
Frank Spranger works with individuals to align business purpose with life purpose; and supports CEOs in NFP organisations to transition into the future, harness opportunities in changing markets, undertake 360 degree revenue reviews and feasibilities in relation to new ventures. firstname.lastname@example.org or 0408 336 363
I invited Frank to guest post as he had some ideas he wanted to share and I thought it best you hear them firsthand. Contact me if you too would be interested in raising topics for discussion on philanthropy in Australia, and would be interested in writing a guest post.