Why I’ve given away $2.5 million
Sydney-based entrepreneur and philanthropist Deanne Weir started giving away a portion of her monthly pay packet when she got her first full time job.
"I came out of university and I wanted to have a charity that I was supporting on a regular basis," Ms Weird told news.com.au.
She was aware of the good work being done by the International Women's Development Agency (IWDA), Australia's leading agency focused on women's rights and women's rights and gender equality in the Asia Pacific region, and signed up to donate $10 a month to the organisation.
The former lawyer then worked her way up the corporate ladder and eventually became an executive at Austar, the subscription TV company bought by Foxtel in 2012.
Ms Weir won big time from the takeover - her 0.58 per cent stake in Austar was worth more than $11 million.
So that same year, she and her husband Jules Anderson took $2.5 million from cashed-out Austar shares and formed the Weir Anderson Foundation, a "global philanthropic community that believes in supporting women and girls."
"We set up the foundation with $2.5 million in 2012 and we were on track to have given that away by the end of this financial year," Ms Weir said.
"Our focus has been on women and girls because every statistic and every piece of research I read shows that not only is it the right thing to do, but no one should be discriminated against."
Ms Weir has given almost $500,000 to the IWDA alone and an additional $500,000 to the Sydney Women's Fund, an organisation supporting disadvantaged women.
It is this generosity that convinced judges of the recent 2018 Australian Philanthropy Awards to acknowledge her contributions with the Gender Wise Philanthropy Award.
But Ms Weir insists that you don't need to have millions in the bank to be a philanthropist.
"I'm a big advocate of everyday philanthropy," she said. "I keep saying, you don't have to be a rich old white guy to be philanthropic. It's about working out what your budget is and seeing if you can allocate something."
Australians are already pretty good at donating to charity. According to the World Giving Index, a global index of donations, volunteering and generosity, Australia ranks third behind Myanmar and the US.
The most recent data shows tax-deductible donations made by Australians reached $3.1 billion in the 2014-15 financial year, according to the Queensland University of Technology's Centre for Philanthropy and non-profit Studies.
But on average, these people gave just 0.4 per cent of their taxable income.
Data from NAB shows you don't have to be rich to donate. The suburb of Sturt in South Australian has an average income of just over $47,000, but it gave the highest proportion of income on average in the year to February 2017.
So how can regular Australians on smaller incomes still contribute to causes they care about?
Ms Weir says even a small donation is beneficial and it's better to go directly through your chosen charity.
"What is important is committed, long term funding. Even if it is $20 a month, that regular giving is actually really important for a lot of organisations," she said.
"You see a lot of good organisations spend over a third of their time or up to half of their resources trying to raise money to keep their work going, rather than doing the work.
"If you can do it directly, rather than to a chugger (charity mugger) down the street who works on commission, then great."
Find a cause that you care about and have a Google to see what organisations support your cause.
"That passion is the absolutely critical first test. Think about an issue that you are really passionate about and Google is your friend. Ask questions, email or ring up the organisation and try to find out what might be of interest to you," she said.
Many people who donate to charity understandably want to make sure their hard-earned cash goes towards those in need and not just to administrative costs.
But Ms Weir argues you need some administration for an organisation to be productive.
"No one wants to spend waste and overspending, but we should be focused on the outcomes that organisations are achieving and a little bit less fixated on how many cents in the dollar are going towards administration," she said.
"A lot of us want to see the well, but the well doesn't get dug without the organisation sitting behind it to make it happen. Plus, people in the social sectors should be paid decent wages."
To find out more about donating to important causes, visit philanthropy.org.au