Wealth Management

James Packer to donate $200 million to charity

Andrew Sadauskas /

Crown Resorts chairman James Packer is pledging to donate $200 million to charity over the next 10 years, with indigenous communities and the arts set to benefit.

The pledge is a joint commitment between Packer, his extended family’s Packer Family Foundation, and Crown Resorts, with the funds to be used to establish the new National Philanthropic Fund.

It comes just days after Melbourne billionaire investor Alex Waislitz pledged to give $50 million to charity over the next 10 years.

The donation includes $100 million to establish a Community Partnerships and Indigenous Education Fund, which will be used to support community projects that drive social change.

A particular emphasis for the fund, as its name suggests, will be on indigenous education and community development projects.

The other half of the money will be used to create a National Arts Fund, which will be used to improve community access to the arts, as well as to support the development of arts organisations and projects.

It will incorporate the $60 million Sydney Arts Fund Packer announced in November of last year, which he described as a “thankyou” to Sydney for allowing him to build the Barangaroo casino resort.

It will be overseen by former senator and former communications minister Helen Coonan, Harold Mitchell, Lucy Turnbull and members of the Packer family.

In a statement, James Packer praised the work of his sister, Gretel Packer, for being the driving force behind the fund’s establishment.

“Today’s announcement commits us to another decade of financial support for organisations which work tirelessly to deliver services, assistance and opportunities for people from disadvantaged backgrounds,” said Packer.

It is also the latest of a string of donations to philanthropic causes by Packer, as well as members of his extended family.

These included the establishment of a $10 million foundation to help out former cricketers in 2006, along with the Sydney Arts Fund last year.

James’ father, the late television magnate Kerry Packer, was also known for his charitable work, reportedly donating $30 million to cancer research, $10 million to the Westmead Children’s Hospital and, perhaps most famously, $2.5 million to the NSW Ambulance Service.

The ambulance service donation was made after Kerry suffered a heart attack in 1990, allowing every ambulance in NSW to be fitted with a defibrillator.

The family’s philanthropic efforts have also helped to establish the Kerry Packer Civic Gallery at the University of South Australia.

Philanthropy Australia chief executive Louise Walsh told SmartCompany this morning the donation is “an outstanding example” for other Australians to follow.

“It’s interesting that it’s $200 million over 10 years, which raises the possibility of further gifts in the future,” Walsh says.

Walsh says that in comparison to Kerry Packer, who often made his charitable donations secretly, James’ willingness to go public is a positive development.

“Going public raises the profile of the donation and generates media publicity, which in turn can be used to motivate others to donate,” she says.

“The Packer family has also gotten much more structured in how it makes its donations, through its two foundations, which is great to see.”

Walsh says while Australia has seen an uptick in high-profile large donations, as regularly happens in other countries such as the United States, there still remains room for improvement.

“We still have 37% of individuals earning over $1 million per year not claiming a tax deduction for making a charitable donation,” Walsh says.

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Andrew Sadauskas

Andrew Sadauskas is a former journalist at SmartCompany and a former editor of TechCompany.

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