Philanthropy is not only for “rich, old, white guys”. While women may not have as much to donate, they’re still contributing in whatever way they can.
That’s how Deane Weir explained to the Sydney Morning Herald that she is donating $1 million to women’s charities this week, including $500,000 to the Sydney Women’s Fund over the next five years, and $500,000 to international aid agency, IWDA.
Weir, a company director, media investor and former lawyer, is one of a line-up of women emptying their pockets in support of philanthropic causes.
As Philanthropy Australia CEO Louise Walsh told me this morning, female entrepreneurs are getting involved in giving in greater numbers than ever before.
“Traditionally in Australia the male, self-made wealthy entrepreneur has probably had more of a track record in philanthropy but that’s changing,” she says.
“There are more female entrepreneurs doing better and becoming wealthier.”
And they’re contributing millions to causes directly assisting women and girls at home and abroad, a move bolstered by groups such as the Australian Womens Donor Network, founded by Eva Mahlab and Jill Reichstein, where Weir currently sits on the board.
They’re wealthy, but not James Packer or Andrew Forrest-style wealthy (who’ve recently offered their own significant donations). Indeed they prove, as Weir said, you don’t have to be white or male or even old to be philanthropic, and you don’t have to own an empire or be making newspaper headlines to make a contribution that’s personally significant.
Weir cited her own experience of once making $10 donations to charities she supported while still at university. Small donations can go a long way, as can getting involved in ‘giving circles’ where women can connect their individual contributions with others in order to accumulate larger sums to give.
Weir’s donation to the SWF will help support employment and education opportunities for disadvantaged women in Sydney, while the half a million given to IWDA aims to help those living in poverty overseas, including in the Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea.
While Walsh says Weir’s $1 million donation is at the higher end of the trend of female-led philanthropy, she believes it’ll only be a number of years before we start seeing significantly higher donations from women. But first, we need to see more women speaking out. “It encourages more female donors to talk about their story,” she says.
It’s never too early or too late to get involved.