Supporting the young
Geoff Wilson is the founder of Wilson Asset Management, an independently owned boutique investment manager established in 1997.
In 2002 when Geoff and his wife Karen established their family foundation, their top priority was to support the causes closest to their hearts. For Geoff and Karen, these were organisations that work with disadvantaged children and young people, such as St Vincent de Paul, the Red Cross, Variety Club and the Salvation Army.
The Wilsons chose to structure their giving through establishing a private ancillary fund (PAF). ‘Giving through a PAF has allowed us to distribute our funds in the most effective planned way that will give the greatest impact, rather than giving in an ad hoc fashion,’ says Geoff.
Choosing to take advantage of Australian Philanthropic Services (APS), has been an important part of the Wilson’s philanthropic journey. APS is designed as a one-stop-shop for philanthropists seeking to understand the tax effective yet simple nature of these structures.
Focus on helping others
Through APS Geoff and Karen have been able to access expert advice as well as administrative services. For Geoff, this has an added advantage. ‘Knowing that the administration is taken care of efficiently by the team at APS and that the paperwork is minimised, means that Karen and I can focus our time and energy on the important task of making sure our funds help add to the lives of those less fortunate than ourselves.’
Geoff acknowledges that having access to the full range of services offered by APS was an important factor in choosing them to administer their private ancillary fund. Down the track they may well take advantage of the grantmaking and evaluation service to undertake research on not-for-profit organisations operating in the area of need that is of most interest to them. If needed, APS can also create an implementation plan and evaluation framework that will help the Wilsons measure the impact of their generosity.
Grow the giving
As Geoff explains, ‘In business, goal setting, due diligence and reporting are par for the course. It is refreshing to work with an organisation that brings this level of expertise and understanding into the philanthropic arena. Through their work, the APS team is really helping philanthropists take a more structured and measurable approach to their giving. This can only help grow the level of giving, which is an extremely exciting development for every Australian.’
The inspiration to give
As a young girl, Tara Hunt was deeply influenced by a nun at her school who gave an enormous amount of time and energy back to her local community. Although the sister had no material wealth to share, her generosity of spirit remained with Tara, and when she was fortunate to receive an inheritance, it shaped part of her inspiration to give back to society.
After reading an article about private ancillary funds, Tara undertook some research and decided that this structure would allow her to invest the shares she had without selling them. It would also allow her to give away an amount each year, and then keep giving. It provided Tara, her husband and their children with a reason to discuss giving.
Taking it personally
The first project that Tara ever supported is still very dear to her heart. A journalist friend suggested that she go to Cairns, to visit a women’s service that had been in operation for 30 years and was in danger of closure. The centre provides maternity support, health and accommodation to indigenous women across Cape York and had never received private funding before Tara stepped in. Needing a carport to get their busses off the street, Tara’s assistance helped keep the centre’s doors open.
From that initial donation, Tara has visited the centre many times over the years, meeting the staff who work there and the women who use the centre’s services, and has been profoundly affected by the community she is now a part of. ‘I never expected to receive the rewards I have experienced at all. The connections we’ve made and the people we’ve met along the way have been a total delight.’
Passing it on
Tara also relishes the opportunity to teach her children that the world of privilege in which they live is not shared by everyone. The Hunt Foundation PAF is a powerful tool for Tara and her husband to help instil the joys of giving in their daughters and help them to realise that buying a bigger car or house is not what’s important – that to give, and not just money, is what happiness and satisfaction is all about.
Tara’s daughters recently attended the opening of a brand new $2 million women’s centre with her in Cairns, and are now coming to her with ideas about where their annual donation should be made. And while Tara does not expect her children to take over the PAF when they are older, she hopes that their early exposure to philanthropy will teach them how to contribute to the world, in their own way.
Just go for it
Although Tara finds it hard to adequately portray the difference between just giving and being involved, it’s the extraordinary people she’s met, the life lessons for her children, the unforgettable eight hour trip in a troop carrier across the desert to visit a project. These are the priceless benefits of Tara’s giving, benefits that she could never have foreseen and that make her want to just keep giving.
Ask Tara what her private ancillary fund means to her, and what advice she would share? “The most rewarding thing I have done, and our family has done together. Just go for it.”