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For many philanthropists and their families, the simplest part of the philanthropic journey is usually setting up a structured vehicle to facilitate giving. But then the hard work begins, addressing difficult questions such as ‘What cause should I support? To whom should I give? How much is enough?’

With over 600,000 for-purpose organisations in Australia and over 56,000 registered charities, it can be overwhelming to sort through the plethora of options.

For the Cattanach family, the journey towards philanthropy began in 2010 when they established the Cattanach Charitable Gift, a sub-fund of the Equity Trustees Charitable Foundation. Husband and wife with four teenage children, Mick and Steph Cattanach both grew up in regional New South Wales where Stephanie worked as a community nurse and Michael built a successful grain business. When Mick sold out of the business later in life, it prompted the couple to establish the Cattanach Charitable Gift. As Steph explains, “We never, ever thought that we would be as financially fortunate, and we have pretty simple needs, so we thought to ourselves, why not? And honestly, we want the kids to value more than money. Instead, Mick and Steph want their children to share and become involved in their philanthropic giving, with a view to eventually handing over the fund as an ongoing, inter-generational expression of the family’s values.

Mick and Steph acknowledged that when they started their giving journey, “We transferred the initial donation into the fund and then patted ourselves on the back. Honestly, we haven’t done the fund justice in the past few years. We just ticked the box every year and didn’t really think deeply about where we were giving.” Like many, their giving was ad hoc and ‘scatter-gun’ in nature, culminating in quandary and stress at the end of every financial year over where the distributions should go. Steph says, “I want to have direction. We were constantly giving a bit of money here and a bit of money there. Now I want more formality around our giving – I really believe that we’ll be more effective that way.”

In late 2018, Mick and Steph made a decision to reach out to their Equity Trustees Relationship Manager for some assistance with their giving strategy. Equity Trustees has a strategic in-house giving service called Giving Consultancy, based on a methodology that aligns a family’s philanthropic giving with their values. Mick and Steph undertook the Giving Consultancy which focused on a series of core considerations, such as ‘What motivates you to give? And what do you want to get out of your giving?’

The Giving Consultancy helps philanthropists and their families to identify their primary values along with key cause areas related to these. For Mick and Steph, this was an integral next step in their journey – having a road map for their giving, being focussed and measured in their giving decisions, and feeling less guilty about ‘saying no’.

As Mick and Steph reflected on their story and that of their extended family, they uncovered some interesting insights. They realised that their country upbringing was a bigger influence on their giving than they had been conscious of, and this would be important in their giving moving forward. Key among their values was supporting local community as well as giving people a second chance.

Having completed the Giving Consultancy, Mick and Steph are excited to be moving to the next phase of their giving, saying “We can’t wait to have the conversation with our kids and get their input.”

Every philanthropic journey is unique and giving strategies will continue to evolve, but Equity Trustees’ Giving Consultancy can provide all families involved in philanthropy with a valuable structure to navigate through a challenging process, albeit an extremely rewarding one when done right – that of giving away money effectively and with impact.