The GRW (Generous Rich Women) List
Last month BRW released the 2014 Rich Women list.
This list is made up of women who are largely responsible for the generation of their fortune and features a mix of entertainers, business-women, investors and entrepreneurs. A number of the women on the list are also generous philanthropists and I would like to acknowledge a few of them today in our GRW List.
Rhonda Wyllie (4th on the Rich Women List with a fortune of $350m)
West Australian property developer, Rhonda Wyllie is well known as a philanthropist. Through the community arm of her family’s business, she has provided substantial gifts to capital projects for West Australian based charities including the Lions Eye Institute Research, Salvation Army, University of WA, Arthritis Foundation of WA, and the Speech & Hearing Centre for Children. She also provides ongoing support to a large number of charities, donating hundreds of thousands of dollars each year.
Patricia Ilhan (5th on the Rich Women list with a fortune of $335m)
Patricia Ilhan, who started mobile phone chain Crazy John’s with her late husband is an active campaigner for the issue of anaphylaxis and food allergies. Following the diagnosos of her daughter with a life threatening peanut allergy, she started the Ilhan Food Allergy Foundation to fund research, education programs and public awareness campaigns.
Penelope Maclagan (8th on the Rich Women List with a fortune of $190m)
Penelope Maclagan is co-founder and major shareholder in software company Computershare. Under her leadership the company developed a strong CSR program which supports a number of charities worldwide. In Australia the company has a long-running and successful partnership with the Red Cross Blood Bank. Late last year it was reported that Penelope had liquidated $3.6m worth of shares from her personal foundation for charitable purposes.
Therese Rein (10th on the Rich Women List with a fortune of $135m)
Therese Rein, successful business woman and wife of former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd devotes a large amount of time to charity work. Her passion for rehabilitation and helping those who are disadvantaged enter the workforce saw her win the prestigious Human Rights Medal for her work with the disabled. She actively supports a large number of charities UNICEF, OzHarvest Food Rescue, Ability First Australia and Arts Project Australia.
Lesley Gillespie (17th on the Rich Women List with a fortune of $70m)
Lesley who is co-founder, executive director and joint CEO of Bakers Delight has been awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia for services to the community and support of charitable organisations. Through her Bakers Delight franchise, Lesley has raised more than $6.5 million for Breast Cancer Network Australia (BCNA) and donates over $143 million in bread to charities each year. The company also supports a range of health and community based organisations, which is something Lesley feels strongly about. .
Maureen Wheeler (21st on the Rich Women List with a fortune of $65m)
Maureen Wheeler co-founded travel publishing company Lonely Planet with her husband and was the driving force behind its corporate contributions program established to provide fund humanitarian projects in developing countries. After selling the company to the BBC in 2011, Maureen established the Planet Wheeler Foundation with the proceeds and expanded her philanthropic pursuits to include the funding of the Wheeler Centre for Books, Writing and Ideas in Melbourne.
There are more women I could mention including Boost Juice founder Janine Allis, actress Cate Blanchett and creator of Carman’s Foods, Carolyn Creswell.
As the establishment of the BRW Rich Women list indicates, more women are making their own fortunes than ever before. As a result, we are also seeing more women take on the role of key philanthropic decision maker, and more women receive credit for charitable support which would have previously gone solely to their husbands.
It is encouraging to see so many of our “Rich Women” giving back, not just as financial supporters, but also as ambassadors and champions for a cause. Women are excellent communicators and effective catalysts for change which is why they are becoming a fast-rising force in modern philanthropy.