It’s one of the questions we most frequently get asked. So, we decided to seek the views of some philanthropists who give to causes dear to them via a donor-advised fund within the AET Foundation.

Barb Mactaggart is founder of Mactaggart Family Charitable Gift.

In the almost limitless charitable arena, I wanted to be, to some degree, personally invested in the giving process. It’s so easy for funds to be ‘lost’ in an amorphous pool with unknown chunks directed towards administration. The value of my contribution, therefore, would be unknown. I also wanted my approach to philanthropy to be targeted with a long-term funding commitment to one specific organisation as opposed to using a shotgun distribution approach.

Finding a charity aligning with my interests or sense of moral obligation was a stepwise process, made all the more complicated by my ‘personal investment’ criterion. Pushing the specifics further, I considered it important that the contribution towards building capacity for the beneficiaries, benefit communities rather than individuals and have overall self-sustaining positive outcomes. A tall order indeed, but after much pondering and research I hit the target.

My annual contribution is directed towards the Yothu Yindi Foundation, who along with key Indigenous community leaders, educators and administrators have successfully developed and are trialling educational programs that support, respect and empower Indigenous communities and their culture in NE Arnhem land.

Veronica and Don Aldridge are founders of Aldridge Family Endowment.

Ours is only a modest fund and we therefore have to be very focussed in our giving. The intention with this fund is to make a difference to small arts, music and also humanitarian organisations where we feel we can make a bigger difference, and where people in the community will benefit now and in the future.

Our philanthropy experience has been a journey of great joy, where we have come to know the people and the work of the organisations we fund.

When reviewing a proposal, we look for a clear description of the project, including the extent of funding and time frame – where an early discussion with the prospective grantee is preferred. Additionally, we prefer for our giving to be directed towards achieving a specific objective with a measurable outcome (for example fund a concert, commission or school program). Regular feedback is another thing we appreciate as it keeps us in touch with progress. The best outcome is achieved through the involvement with the grantee, the donor and the AET’s Philanthropic Services team.

We have been philanthropist by this means for 15 years and we remain pro-active in seeking new projects.

How you can get started

At AET, we have seen how impactful it can be for philanthropists to partner with eligible charities that share the same goals and the same values. Increasingly, our philanthropic clients are seeking advice on which charities are best aligned with their charitable intent. AET’s Giving Connect service was designed with the Australian Centre for Social Innovation to help philanthropists navigate eligible charities to support through their foundation or donor-advised fund.

If you’re an financial adviser or a philanthropist (or a want-to-be philanthropist) find out about giving via the AET Foundation or learn about our Giving Connect service.

If you represent an eligible charity and are seeking to partner with philanthropy , you can view our grant application page and if a genuine alignment exists we encourage you to register your interest for funding.

To find out more about how we can work with you, please email out Philanthropic Services Team at or call us on 1800 684 672.