After a lengthy period of economic prosperity, more Australians than ever before are in the happy position of having more money than they need to live on themselves or hand on to the kids. As far as distributing this wealth to those less fortunate, government incentives are making an impact but we could still do better.
Western Pacific financial adviser Ivan Ang believes many people want to do more with their wealth to make a difference to society. He points to a trend among clients already giving to charity who reach a point where they want to move beyond cheque-book philanthropy to a more strategic giving plan.
A report released by the Prime Minister's Community Business Partnership committee recently estimated that Australian individuals and businesses gave $11 billion to charity in 2004. Yet the amount we give as a proportion of GDP is just 0.5 per cent, well behind the US at 2.1 per cent and trailing Britain at 0.77 per cent.
The Federal Government has given philanthropy a boost with the introduction of tax-effective vehicles for giving, notably prescribed private funds, introduced in 1999. There are more than 350 such funds, with a combined kitty of more than $400 million.
[Excerpt of an article by Barbara Drury, The Sydney Morning Herald]