Mining magnate Twiggy Forrest gives $5 billion boost to own charity

Posted on 22 Jun 2023

By Greg Thom, journalist, Our Community

Andrew Twiggy Forrest

Australia’s richest man, Andrew “Twiggy” Forrest, has given a $5 billion boost to Minderoo Foundation, the charity he started with his wife Nicola more than two decades ago.

The couple will donate a fifth of their holding in Fortescue Metals Group, equating to 220 million shares, to the philanthropic organisation.

The donation raises the foundation’s endowment to $7.6 billion.

Established in 2001, Minderoo Foundation is described as “a modern philanthropic organisation seeking to break down barriers, innovate and drive positive, lasting change.”

The organisation has focused on a range of areas, from ocean research and ending slavery, to collaborative efforts to fight cancer, to community projects.

The massive injection of funds comes as Minderoo Foundation was revealed as the number one most-donated-to charity in WA, attracting more than $500 million in donations and bequests in the 2021 reporting period, in the latest Australian Charities Report, released this week.

The report, compiled by the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission (ACNC), identified philanthropists as a vital part of the charitable landscape, with charities distributing $9.7 billion in grants and donations in the period.

“Our data confirms not only that philanthropists are significant in number – nearly one fifth of registered charities are grant makers – but they also play a very significant role in funding those charities we regulate,” ACNC commissioner Sue Woodward said.

In a statement announcing the massive financial top-up of Minderoo Foundation’s funds, Dr Forrest said the initiative would allow the substantial investment to be deployed for greater public benefit.

“As our world faces enormous challenges, we have elected to continue to use our material wealth to help humanity and the environment meet these existential risks,” he said.

"If you happen to be good at accumulating wealth, then I believe in using that skill for the greater good."
Andrew 'Twiggy' Forrest

Explaining the reasoning behind the decision to transfer the enormous share parcel to his philanthropic foundation, Dr Forrest said accumulating wealth should be only a small part of a person – their contribution to their family and society was way more important.

“Other skills such as carpentry, farming, the arts, working in construction, or for government are equally as important.

“If you happen to be good at accumulating wealth, then I believe in using that skill for the greater good.

“This is why we will continue to donate our wealth to causes where we can make a sustainable difference.”

In 2013, the Forrest's were the first Australians to sign the Giving Pledge, committing to give away the vast majority of their wealth in their lifetimes.

Nicola Forrest said the latest donation would directly result in real change for Minderoo’s beneficiaries.

“These are tough times for many Australians, and of course for many people right around the world,” she said.

“I believe we all need to do what we can with what we have, so I am pleased that the transfer of these shares will escalate our efforts to help those who need it most.”

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