Aussie financial entrepreneur Graham Tuckwell may be worth more $750 million but his decision this week to give away $50 million of his fortune has caused waves in Australia.
The self-made multimillionaire built his fortune by founding ETF Securities.
In the largest donation ever made to an Australian university, Tuckwell will fund scholarships worth up to $100,000 over five years in an Australian National University scheme to run for 20 years.
He said passing down his fortune to his kids would only “poison” them and destroy their drive, so has decided instead to give $50 million towards the education of strangers.
While in the United States a culture of philanthropy amongst entrepreneurs is well established, with the likes of Bill Gates and Warren Buffett carving off large chunks of their fortunes, the same attitude is lacking in Australia.
Statistics from the Australian Centre of Philanthropy and Nonprofit Studies at the Queensland University of Technology show wealthy people globally give away between 3% and 11% of their assets, but in Australia that number is less than 2%.
Our richest person, Gina Rinehart, doesn’t even want to give any money to her own children, let alone charities.
In fact, Australia’s greatest philanthropist isn’t Australian at all but instead is an 81-year-old Irish-American who doesn’t even live here.
Chuck Feeney made his money through airport duty-free shops and has spent more than $500 million on charitable causes in Australia, mainly in medical research.
Of course there are exceptions, such as former transport entrepreneur Greg Poche, who gave $40 million to the Mater Hospital and has spent more than $20 million on indigenous health; or the Gandel family, which have given money to the National Gallery of Australia.
There are also entrepreneurs giving not their money but their time and expertise such as social entrepreneur Rebecca Scott, who runs the STREAT cafes and coffee roaster business.
But it would be good to see Tuckwell’s gesture prompt other wealthy entrepreneurs to think about what they are going to do with their cash.