Donations from wealthy, self-made Australian entrepreneurs are emerging as a major trend shaping the non-profit sector, a philanthropy forum held last month by Russell Investments heard.

An increase in the frequency of liquidity events, such as business and property sales, among newly-rich Australians has caused more donations to flow to charities, Clare Stanford, head of philanthropy at Trust Company, told the forum.

But the challenge for Australian charities amid this goodwill is to not become lost in the crowd as the internet and other modes of communication provide donors with an unprecedented range of charities to choose from. “Competition for those dollars is greater,” Stanford said.

Also speaking at the event, Michael Traill, chief executive of Social Ventures Australia, said that domestic charities could procure more donations by fostering a “social investing” mindset among the high-net-worth community.

Traill said that non-profits have been presented with “a huge opportunity to attract additional donors by getting them to view giving as a form of social investing which they should engage in throughout their lives in the same way as they would normally invest”.

Russell held the forum to discuss the state of giving in Australia and ways in which the investment industry could promote charitable giving. Russell advises and provides investment products for many third-sector organisations, from the US$35.9 billion Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to smaller, localised charities.

For the last two years it has supplied The Smith Family with a ‘focused giving’ grant to help the organisation promote financial literacy among its patrons. Some Russell employees have helped educate the trainers of this program.

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