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Giving for the Common Good: Stephen Heintz on Philanthropy


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Philanthropy is celebrated as a noble human act – and in Australia, it’s also growing, with nearly 1,400 new private foundations established in Australia since 2001. But while ‘big philanthropy’ is playing a more prominent role in seeking to address social and environmental challenges all around the world, some question the motives and methods of big philanthropy and so-called ‘philanthrocapitalism’ – the Gates and Zuckerbergs of this world.

So, what is the role of philanthropy? What are its responsibilities and limitations? How must they act in order to retain legitimacy – and justify tax breaks they receive? Should philanthropic foundations last forever, or should they ‘spend down’? And, most importantly, how can philanthropic foundations be a force for positive change?

As president of the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, Stephen Heintz is one of the world’s preeminent experts in the art of philanthropy, and is uniquely placed to reveal how the Rockefellers are working to help eliminate the industry that secured their fortune – by making a surprising and profound shift away from oil and toward green investment. Join him as he discusses global trends in giving, and the differing roles of philanthropy in Australia and the US.

Presented in partnership with the United States Studies Centre and Philanthropy Australia.


Stephen Heintz

Stephen Heintz is President of the Rockefeller Brothers Fund. Before joining the RBF, he held top leadership positions in both the nonprofit and public sectors. Most recently, he was founding president of Dēmos, a public policy research and advocacy organisation working to enhance the vitality of A... Read more

Peter Mares

Peter Mares is lead moderator with The Cranlana Programme, an independent, not-for-profit organisation dedicated to developing the ethical decision-making skills of Australia’s leaders. Peter is also contributing editor at Inside Story magazine and adjunct fellow at Swinburne University’s Centr... Read more


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