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4 min read

The most valuable lesson I’ve learned about giving: Ewan Ogilvy

Profile of Nicole Richards
Written by Nicole RichardsPosted on 1/5/2020

Giving journeys are as diverse and distinct as the donors who drive them.

Ewan Ogilvy, a long-standing supporter of Australian Communities Foundation and treasured member of our giving community, changed course with his own giving five years ago.

After bringing a laser-like focus to his philanthropic Statement of Purposes, Ewan opted to close his sub-fund and establish a student competition at University of Melbourne’s School of Design which is now co-funded by other donors.

Here Ewan shares some highlights of his personal giving journey.

What’s the most valuable lesson you’ve learned about giving?

EO: The need to be flexible and not define the objectives of your philanthropic project too narrowly.

During the early years of my giving journey, I became aware of many important funding requests, but most were a little tangential to the defined purposes of my sub-fund.

In late 2015, I took a different approach. Rather than respond to NGO presentations organised by Australian Communities Foundation and other organisations, I distributed a copy of my sub-fund’s Statement of Purposes to my contacts at the University of Melbourne, with the intention of soliciting project proposals that fitted the purposes of the sub-fund. This resulted in three very different projects, two of which were much more closely aligned with my Statement of Purposes.

What’s your favourite example of impact that your giving has contributed to?

One of the three projects, resulting from the process described above, involved the establishment of a student competition. Students were to be rewarded for developing inspiring designs that exemplified positive ecological and social outcomes.

“Being able to partner with other donors to support important initiatives has been an uplifting experience”

This initiative subsequently received funding from other donors and is still in operation. The student response to the Positive Legacy of Design Award has been most encouraging.

What do you love most about being part of our community of givers?

The Australian Communities Foundation has exposed the community of givers to a wonderful variety of giving opportunities, with the Impact Fund initiative being the highlight for me.

Although I now no longer have a sub-fund of my own, the Impact Fund provides me (and ALL philanthropists) with the opportunity to maintain an association with Australian Communities Foundation. Also, this gifting initiative enables philanthropists to support important projects both with and without tax deductibility status; a VERY flexible arrangement!

Being able to partner with other donors to support important initiatives has been an uplifting experience. Also, having contact with helpful, efficient and convivial foundation staff has made this approach to philanthropy both seamless and enjoyable!

Two things you’re going to do as soon as the social distancing restrictions end?

Catch up with friends over a good “red” and celebrate the establishment of those caring local networks that have been so valuable during our partial COVID-19 lock-down.