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WWF-Australia, helping to regenerate Australia

When the Black Summer bushfires hit, it was like an ecological bomb exploded. WWF-Australia needed to respond – and fast. This is how one man’s bequest helped the charity to start to regenerate Australia. 

The 2019-20 Black Summer bushfires were a tragedy that broke the nation’s heart. 

No one could have predicted the timing, extent or intensity of the ecological bomb that wiped out beloved landscapes and decimated populations of animals.

Yet, just as WWF-Australia needed money to start to regenerate the nation, it received a timely $360,000 donation from a philanthropist. 

It was the second round of funding from a generous bequest previously made by donor Ronald Vincent Giddy. The timing was unexpected. Or as Rachel Lowry, acting-CEO of WWF-Australia put it: “the timing was beautiful”. 

“The money came through when we really needed it, so we could respond to the bushfires, test and validate solutions, and bring other donations in off the back of it,” Lowry says. 

The donation enabled the non-profit to start to trial and test heat resistant nest boxes for greater gliders, which were devastated by the bushfires. It also paid for the seeds required to restore bio-diverse landscapes in affected areas. 

“The donor would not have known that their money would be delivered right at a time when Australia needed it most. What an incredible legacy.”  

Three years on and donations are still as important to the regeneration effort as ever.

WWF-Australia wants to raise $300 million over five years to fund its Regenerate Australia campaign. The program aims to restore wildlife and rehabilitate habitats. The money will also help to future-proof Australia against climate disasters. 

“WWF-Australia is known as one of the larger environmental organisations but we are still a charity that runs on goodwill and donations to keep afloat.” 

Equity Trustees manages a number of charitable trusts, that support environmental organisations such as WWF-Australia. Equity Trustees also helps them connect with new donors that believe in the non-profit’s environmental vision.

“We don't have the breadth of resources to be able to necessarily find new donor relationships at any point in time – but Equity Trustees has that capacity.

“Essentially, Equity Trustees opens doors for us at the right moment. They can often put us in touch with donors that we don’t know exist, that care as much as we do about a species, landscape or seascape. The work Equity Trustees does is quite incredible – it’s something that’s hard for a charity like us to put a price on.”

The connections facilitated by Equity Trustees often produce relationships that fund the kind of environmental solutions only charities can deploy. 

“Some solutions are often too brave, too bold and too risky for government to take on without validation first. A lot of the ground-breaking work that happens in the environmental space is led by the charity and NGO sector.”  

It also results in “beautiful” unexpected funding moments like the one described by Lowry.

“Having a partnership like the one we do with Equity Trustees is what enables us to get important initiatives off the ground, at the time they are needed. It enables us to keep putting innovative ideas forward – solutions that regenerate Australia.”

Kevin the Koala arriving for treatment, Port Stephens Koala Hospital.

WWF-Australia is proud to have been about to donate $150K to Port Stephens Koalas to allow them to buy equipment to install a wildlife surgery at their new Port Stephens Koala Sanctuary. Credit: WWF-Aus / Madeleine Smitham.