Why we need to profile leadership to expand the sector and inspire others.

Louise Walsh on leadership

Leadership is absolutely fundamental to the success and growth of this sector. How can we have an increase in the growth of philanthropy and giving if we don’t have leadership?

Leaders come in different shapes and forms and we need to profile where the leadership is because it encourages others to think in a similar vein. I’ve been fortunate enough to see so many great examples – really tangible, outstanding examples which have helped us grow the sector very quickly.

Some of the recent standouts for me are Graham and Louise Tuckwell’s $50 million gift to ANU which inspired, amongst others, the Forrests to make their $65 million gift in 2013. In corporate philanthropy, the launch of the Westpac Bicentennial Foundation I have been told, made some chairs from other blue chip companies sit up and take notice.

We have amazing leaders like Leonard Vary at Myer and Catherine Brown at LMCF. Also David Gonski who came up with the idea of PAFs and pushed it through, and Sam Meers who started the very first PAF with her father – she’s an extraordinary leader too. That’s one of the things that sets leaders apart – there are lots of people who have ideas, but the leaders are the ones who make it happen.

Leaders are everywhere too. Stephen Heintz at Rockefeller Brothers Fund was a stand out on our recent US field trip. Closer to home, the Pratts are significant philanthropists – but they’re not just restricting themselves to the Australian philanthropic scene, they are big players in the US too.

Then you’ve got people like David Hill who heads up Deloitte Private nationally, who has really interesting ideas for growing philanthropy and helping the nonprofit sector.Generosity_Philanthropy-Australia_Louise-Walsh

We’ve got leaders who are prepared to be quite public about what they’re doing and use their profile, and other leaders who aren’t overt, but manoeuvre behind the scenes instead. Either way, people in this sector are extraordinarily willing to share and help others in the space.

I love lateral, creative, entrepreneurial type leaders – they’re the ones that really inspire me.


Louise Walsh is Chief Executive Officer at Philanthropy Australia


Generosity_Philanthropy_Deanne-WeirDeanne Weir on Leadership

1. Does leadership matter? Is there a connection between leadership and philanthropy?

Leadership matters in all areas of endeavour and philanthropy is no different.

The leadership we need is for everyone involved in philanthropy to explain it and make it relatable, and to also explain that it doesn’t require massive cash contributions to be meaningful.

Inclusive leadership can inspire people to take their own action. Individual donors should talk about what they do and why. Corporate donors should talk about what they do and why and, in particular, how this fits within their broader corporate strategy.  It would also be great to see people who work in the not-for-profit sector talk about how engaging with supporters is enhancing the work that they do.


2. Are there leaders who inspire you and your work? What does good leadership in this space look like?

The more people I meet in the philanthropic sector the more inspired I get. It is not just the people who are writing the cheques, but also people who are dedicating their lives to making a real difference in community organisations.

Someone like Pat Hall at the Liverpool Network Connections in Warwick Farm. Pat is working with the Sydney Women’s Fund, individual philanthropists, government bodies and people within her local community and they are changing lives.

I also really admire people who are taking a targeted and thoughtful approach to their philanthropy, not just giving for the sake of giving, but giving because they are passionate about an issue and they believe that the investment they are making will lead to real change.  People who really believe they can change the world and who are prepared to do something about it are very inspiring to me.


Deanne Weir is a media entrepreneur, company director and philanthropist with more than 20 years’ experience in media and communications. She chairs the boards of four private companies, is Deputy Chair of Screen Australia and a board member of the International Women’s Development Agency, Playwriting Australia and the Australian Women Donors Network 



Photo: PopTech Science and Leadership Fellows, Flickr, cc 2.0 

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