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There are many pathways to philanthropy but taking a structured approach is the way to deliver impact, as three families discovered.

Every philanthropic journey is unique but most begin with a catalysing event. 

It may be updating a will, receiving a financial windfall, or simply the desire to minimise tax. For others, it may be the opportunity to give something back to the community or to create a legacy.

For the Cattanach family, it was the sale of their successful grain business that prompted Michael and Stephanie to establish the Cattanach Charitable Gift in 2010.

“We never, ever thought that we would be as financially fortunate, and we have pretty simple needs, so we thought to ourselves, why not?” says Stephanie Cattanach. “And honestly, we want the kids to value more than money.”

But setting up a structured vehicle to enable giving is relatively simple compared to the challenge of choosing which causes to support and the organisations that can deliver an impact.

The Cattanach family’s charitable donations were initially ad hoc in nature, but in late-2018 they reached out to Equity Trustees Giving Consultancy to design a more structured approach. The process helped

uncover their values, which stem from their country upbringing, and lean towards supporting the local community as well as giving people a second chance. 

The Cameron family had a similar experience, setting up the Cameron Family Charitable Endowment in 2011 after the founder retired from a successful corporate career.

“At the time of my retirement, we were doing well financially and had more than enough to live on,” the founder said. “When the funds realised by my retirement were received, it made sense to create the charitable endowment.”

The fund supports organisations that have a close connection with the family, such as the Rotary Foundation (multiple generations of the family have been Rotarians) as well as organisations in the arts and literary space. 

The family also supports the Hunter Medical Research Institute in honour of the founder’s father who worked as a GP. Education is another priority, with support directed to the General Sir John Monash

Foundation as well as universities where members of the family studied.

Both the Cattanach Charitable Gift and the Cameron Family Charitable Endowment are sub-funds of the Equity Trustees Charitable Foundation (a public ancillary fund). It means they can cost-effectively leverage their charity through the Foundation’s existing structure, allowing their children to continue giving into perpetuity.

Euan and Kaye Murdoch took a different approach by setting up a private ancillary fund (PAF) after they sold their business, Herron Pharmaceuticals, in 2003. However, they’ve also focused on areas that align with their values and involved their children. 

The Better Future Foundation (TBFF) focuses on social impact, by providing financial grants, mentoring and developing long-term relationships with each recipient organisation. The Murdoch’s believes that charities require ongoing support and a sustainable source of funding to thrive, which is why they have chosen to work with only a handful of select charities.

TBFF has also supported their son Sandy’s charity, TRACTION, which supports 12-15 year olds in an alternative and action-based learning environment, and the Jodi Lee Foundation, which empowers people to take active steps to prevent bowel cancer, after their daughter Anna benefited from the Foundation’s work.

Whether it’s making the most of a financial windfall or engaging younger generations to discover the power and impact of philanthropy, there are many ways to start a philanthropic journey.

Want to find out more ways we can help you achieve your philanthropy goals? Find out more about the options at Be a Philanthropist how you can become a philanthropist.