Philanthropy in the service of Democracy

This week sees the launch of a powerful new toolkit for Australian philanthropy about the how and why of investing in policy advocacy and influence building. Produced by Leslie Falkiner-Rose and Philanthropy Australia, this interactive toolkit includes case studies and resources to guide philanthropic trustees, CEOs and program managers in the decision-making process around advocacy. It opens the philanthropic sector in Australia to an international library of thinking and practice around contemporary advocacy materials.

The Reichstein Foundation is pleased to have supported the development and publication of this toolkit, which we have funded in partnership with The Myer Foundation and Sidney Myer Fund, and with input from the Australian Environmental Grantmakers Network. It will be launched at this week’s Philanthropy Meets Parliament Summit, the third summit since its inauguration by Philanthropy Australia in 2015.

The toolkit could not arrive at a better time.

The earth is facing a major climate crisis, evidenced through a punishing drought in Australia, devastating early season bushfires and a stricken Murray Darling river system. The policy drift and inaction in Canberra on climate issues poses a major threat to the economic, social and environmental well-being of this country.

Fortunately, people on the frontline in local communities – children, farmers and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, along with some of Australia’s leading businesses and finance houses – are acting now and refusing to wait for government. Philanthropy needs to be there to back in these efforts, to help advocates tell the stories of what is possible. We must work with, listen to and support communities and workers directly impacted by a transition away from fossil fuels.

Our national failure to address climate change since the repeal of the 2011 Clean Energy Act is also a story of crisis in our democracy, of how certain stakeholders have used every means possible to capture the public debate and skew policy development. With the banner headline of ‘Philanthropy in the service of Democracy’, the Philanthropy Meets Parliament Summit 2019 will be an important opportunity to demonstrate that philanthropy can be a fearless voice and resource in the service of the common good.

Jill Reichstein OAM


Reichstein Foundation