The changing face of philanthropy

Miranda Tay

Engaging with an emerging generation of young philanthropists is a key part of making a success of your arts career.
The changing face of philanthropy

The philanthropist has always played a significant role in the funding of the arts. But the old model of dealing with administrators of deceased estates is slowly, well, dying.

Enter the modern philanthropist – a new generation of young donors, some in their 20s and 30s, who is turning the old-style philanthropic endeavour on its head, with a more involved, sophisticated stance.

And arts organisations and individuals must also find new ways of engaging with these young donors, says Anna Draffin, Deputy CEO, Philanthropy Australia.


Draffin’s keynote presentation at the ArtsHub Conference on 31 Oct will identify three major areas trending in modern philanthropic endeavour.

The starting point, she said, is that ‘the majority of funders that people are dealing with now are not dead. I know it sounds flippant when I say that – in presentations I always give the giggles – but if you actually step back and think about it, the fact that you’re actually dealing with most people who are the founders of a foundation or the next generation associated with it, that has quite a profound effect compared with dealing with the administrator of someone else’s foundation.’

From a private funding point of view – that is, a mixture of individual donors, family foundations, corporate donors and trusts  – for the artist, ‘it’s a very important point of engagement because you’re not just dealing with a remote funder who you’ve sent an application into; if you’re successful they send you the funds and away you go.’

Instead you’re actually creating a relationship, said Draffin.

‘And the trifecta of a funder is not only do they want to contribute their funds, they want to contribute their own professional expertise, engage with someone they’re funding and they want to engage their network.’

Individual donors are becoming increasingly important players in donations to the arts. A 2011 survey by the Australian Major Performing Arts Group, quoted in The Age, showed that philanthropy had increased from $7.2 million in 2002 to $34.6 million in 2011, outpacing growth in corporate sponsorship. It also found that, for the first time, philanthropic donations provided the largest proportion of income to the sector.

And today’s donors want engagement with the art form they are contributing to, said Draffin.

‘It might be a social thing. They might have a god-daughter or son or a favourite aunt. Everyone’s so time poor, so if someone is passionate enough to be funding something and donating, volunteering their skills and expertise, the likelihood is they are going to want to introduce some part of (their) professional network or family or friends as part of their engagement.

‘That creates a very different paradigm for the way people engage with funders.’

From the relationship with the philanthropist, Draffin will move on to the second major area, she said – the increasingly call of sponsors to an evidence base for their funding.

This is a ‘more complex emerging area around accessing impact and people funded now through corporate foundations,’ she said, ‘that the foundations  are wanting an evidence base for what they’re funding.

‘Particularly for the arts sector it’s much more complicated to always provide what that evidence base is because often there’s a lot of intangibles associated with the arts that are longitudinal [where] things that are still very much a conversation early in its evolution.

‘But nonetheless it’s a really important one at the outset to be thinking about and being upfront with the funders of being realistic about what they can and can’t prove,’ she said.

In the final part of her presentation, Draffin will focus on the third major trend, which she says relates back to the first around relationships with the sponsor. Building on the relationships and the evidence base ‘helps you leverage that relationship into government partnership, corporate sponsorship etc, so it’s about how philanthropy can help you leverage those other aspects of your funding base,’ such as museum programs for philanthropists in their 20s and 30s, placement programs and not-for-profit organisations.

The scale of the industry now is enormous she said, and these are just ‘a few steps to get people to understand [it].’

ArtsHub Conference 2014
31 October, Darebin Arts & Entertainment Centre

About the author

Miranda Tay is Deputy Editor of