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Australia New frontier of young Australians are changing the face of philanthropy

23:25  27 october  2021
23:25  27 october  2021 Source:   abc.net.au

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Ling Ang is a young Melbourne-based philanthropist who is passionate about the arts. (Supplied: MIFF) © Provided by ABC NEWS Ling Ang is a young Melbourne-based philanthropist who is passionate about the arts. (Supplied: MIFF)

If you were asked to describe a philanthropist, what would you say?

You'd probably say an older person, either retired or at the top of their field, with — most importantly — millions or billions of dollars to spare.

But young Australians, such as Melbourne's Ling Ang, are challenging this stereotype.

At 31-years-old, the artist and documentary filmmaker has made significant donations to a number of Melbourne-based organisations and campaigns.

She recently donated $80,000 to the Melbourne International Film Festival to help it embrace "extended reality" [XR] technology, and also contributed $500,000 to the restoration of the Capitol Theatre on Swanston St in 2018.

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She also funds a scholarship for her alma mater RMIT University.

Philanthropy is something she was brought up with. Her mum started giving in her 40s and her grandparents, who were Chinese-born and were early pioneers of the rice trade in Singapore, also gave back.

"I was growing up and always looking to give back to society, especially within the communities that I would be participating in," she told ABC Radio Melbourne.

"That's what led me into donating my philanthropy towards screen culture."

She not only donates to causes she cares about but invests her time and talents, especially in her work with Asia Society Australia, which connects leaders across Australia and Asia.

"Our time is more valuable than putting money anywhere," she said.

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"We have a legion of new young philanthropists who are deeper in what they're supporting."

Philanthropy is changing

Philanthropy Australia CEO Jack Health said philanthropy in Australia was changing "quite significantly".

"When we think of philanthropists, we tend to think of wealthy people sitting in nice comfortable boardrooms at the top end of Collins St," he said.

"What we're seeing is a new generation of people looking to give."

He said younger people were generally giving money earlier in their career to a greater number and variety of causes, compared with the older generation of philanthropists.

He said he believed this was because young people grew up with the internet, which instilled them with a global perspective and a greater sense of responsibility.

"One of the big interests is the importance of action around climate change … and the embracing of cultural diversity as a matter of fact," he said.

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"We think that's because Gen Z and Millennials are born into a digital environment, and those digital environments are inherently global.

"A lot of young people have a sense of that broader humanity than previous generations, because they grew up seeing so much of what's going on in the world."

Mr Health also said young people were approaching their philanthropy "holistically", investing more of their time, talent and energy into the causes they supported.

"Philanthropy in full bloom is you're giving money, time, thinking how you bring your skills, and how do you go into your community to bring more people on board," he said.

"In Millennials and Gen Z, this wider embrace of philanthropy is coming to the fore."

Focusing on future generations

New Gen Network is a group that runs out of Philanthropy Australia for people in their 20s and 30s, founded in 2011.

Manager Vicki Norton said they represented a "broader church" of about 60 young people, some who were children of philanthropists, and others who have worked for a few years and wanted to give back.

They meet a few times a year to learn how to give better, and to create a network, and have done so virtually through the pandemic.

"It's increasing every year with New Gen. We're being contacted by young professionals who want to learn what to do," she said.

But Ms Norton said they were now focused on engaging the next generation of young Australians.

According to research by Australian analyst group McCrindle, there will be a "massive" $3 trillion transfer of wealth from the old to the young in Australia over the next two decades.

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