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Trustee company oversaw over $91 million in grants, bequests in 2020, report shows

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Philanthropic funding provider Equity Trustees released its third annual Giving Review, report containing analysis of $91 million in philanthropic grants and bequests overseen by the company in the 2020 financial year. 

Carol Schwartz AO, Equity Trustees’ recently appointed Chair, said that while the catastrophic bushfires and pandemic made 2020 a tough year for the for-purpose sector, Equity Trustees made significant progress on its three-year goals around measuring its social impact. 

“The for-purpose sector needed immediate support to keep the lights on and to keep vital services going, while also needing to work towards the resilience of the sector in the long term,” Schwartz said.  

“This year, that meant being faster, more flexible and more innovative than ever before in our funding – adapting ourselves to what our partners told us they needed to support the community through these tough times,” she said. 

Schwartz also noted that the practice of philanthropists establishing their giving throughout their lifetime, rather than leaving their giving in bequests, was gaining momentum in Australia in 2020. 

“We’re observing that Australians are becoming much more active in this area. We are seeing an increasing trend of parents engaging their children and grandchildren to discuss their family values and agree on how their philanthropy will make a difference as a family over multiple generations,” she said. 

Some examples of the initiatives supported by Equity Trustees philanthropic granting and its partners include rapid response grants to communities affected by the bushfires and COVID-19 pandemic and collaborations to strengthen the conservation and climate change movement.  

Equity Trustees also supported funding collaboration around key reform in the outofhome care sectorcatalysing a campaign aimed at fighting ageism in Australia, and backing leading Medical researchers, among others.  

The Annual Giving Review sets out Equity Trustees’ blueprint for responsible stewardship in the philanthropic sector and measures impact in four key focus areas: children and young people, ageing and aged care, medical research and health, and animals and the environment. 

Mick O’Brien, Managing Director, Equity Trustees said a key focus for the business in 2020 had been establishing a responsive, flexible approach to supporting the community in the unusually tough times which were the hallmarks of 2020. 

“This has been clearly demonstrated by the establishment of two Disaster Response Trusts after the summer bushfires, which are designed to support those impacted by the disaster, by providing our clients, our employees and the business community impassioned by the crises, a means by which to help,” he said. 

“We have contributed a huge pro-bono effort to establish the trusts and efforts to scale our ability to make rapid response grants to those in need, into the future, O’Brien said.  

Equity Trustees is continually moving towards a more quantitative approach to measuring its impact, not just via philanthropy but across the board as an ASX-listed company. 

“By caring for our community, our people and our shareholders, we stand to do incredible things in the future,” O’Brien said. 



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