The philanthropic sector is watching closely as billionaire trucking magnate Lindsay Fox takes bold and public steps out into the philanthropy spotlight.
Fox has written letters to fellow Rich-Listers urging others to pledge financial support for the Anzac and World War I centenary commemorations. The prominent philanthropist has embarked on a campaign to raise $150 million from the richest people in the country for the Anzac Centenary Public Fund, as recently reported by Fairfax. Fox ranked 15th with $2.12 billion in wealth on the Rich List this year.
Fox is chairman of the fundraising committee, and recently wrote a letter to all 200 Rich-Listers seeking funds for trauma centres around Australia for veterans of war, according to the report.
Fox also addressed the letter to the top chairmen and women and chief executives of the top 500 listed companies and urged them to donate a day’s pay to the cause. Fox told Fairfax he’s had a good response from the Rich-Listers so far.
“I have asked for the top 50 to consider a donation of $1 million and the next 50 a donation of $500,000,” the letter says.
“As it stands, James Packer, Lang Walker, Rupert Murdoch, Harry Triguboff, Gina Rinehart and myself have all made a personal donation of $1 million to the fund.”
This sort of statement is a rare public declaration of his own philanthropic endeavours that is clearly designed to encourage others to also pledge to the fund.
According to the chief executive of Philanthropy Australia, Louise Walsh, watching such a high profile billionaire lead the charge for such a worthwhile cause is exciting.
“Peer-to-peer fundraising is the most powerful way to fundraise and he’s obviously leading by example by giving first. More public philanthropic giving like this will hopefully encourage other billionaires to give in this way.
“He’s probably a bit like (the late) Kerry Packer, where a lot of what he did was under the radar. It’s great to see Fox believes in the cause so much that he’s leading the charge.”
However, one aspect of the approach Fox has taken is unusual, according to Walsh.
“Typically, these sorts of high value asks wouldn’t be done by letter, unless you know the person really well. Best practice when requesting big amounts is to request a face-to-face meeting with the person and put your case forward, then ask for the amount you’re after in the meeting.
“It’s hard to predict what his hit rate would be when he’s writing letters as opposed to flying around in his private jet asking for the money in person.”