Equity Trustees distributes over $14.5 million as demand from charities soars

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Equity Trustees distributed more than $14.5 million last year to charities on behalf of the 206 charitable trusts it manages, following the directions and wishes of the trusts’ founders.

The charitable trusts managed by Equity Trustees total more than $490 million in value and are comprised of private ancillary funds, public ancillary funds (including the EQT Foundation) and testamentary or ‘will’ trusts, says Tabitha Lovett, head of philanthropy at Equity Trustees.

“The charitable trusts vary significantly in size and scope, and support a range of issues such as medical and scientific research, environmental protection, children’s charities, educational causes, animal welfare and disaster relief,” Ms Lovett says.

Of particular note in recent years is the increasing demand for funding from charities.

“The number of requests for grants from charities is on the rise, and the ratio of the funds requested against the income we have to distribute is around 8:1.  This situation is increasing, not decreasing.

“While government and private sector funding for charities can ebb and flow, the proceeds from perpetual charitable trusts, such as those managed by Equity Trustees, continue to be distributed, regardless of the financial climate or government funding priorities.

“Equity Trustees’ focus is to ensure the trusts are properly administered and the income is distributed following directions and wishes of the benefactors, with prominence given to the trusts’ founders.

“Where the founders have left discretion with Equity Trustees to select the recipients to receive income each year, we strive to identify the strongest projects which will achieve genuine benefits for those in the community who are vulnerable and disadvantaged.”

Ms Lovett says the funds available for distribution each year depend upon the investment returns of the existing perpetual trusts and the number of new trusts that are set up.

“In the past 10 years many new philanthropic trusts have been established, as more and more people see the benefit of giving during their lifetime.

“This reflects people’s increasing interest in actively supporting the community sector and because of an increasing awareness of the various options available for establishing a perpetual foundation or legacy,” says Ms Lovett.

George Boubouras, Chief Investment Officer at Equity Trustees, says trusts’ assets are invested prudently with the objective of capital and income growth.

“These trusts are perpetual trusts, which means we can take a long term outlook with the investment decisions made. The aim is to return a consistent dividend yield that is greater than the broader equity market, to ensure funds are available for distribution each year.

“The aim is to deliver the best risk adjusted returns for investors with a focus on the dividend yield. The franking credit will continue to be an important component.

“The growth of dividend per share (DPS) was very strong over the past year and we continue to anticipate this trend in 2014.

“EQT is aiming for a sustainable dividend growth strategy which will provide greater income for distribution to charity,” Mr Boubouras says.

“Increasingly, we are finding clients want their financial planning considerations to include a structured and long-term approach to philanthropic giving, which will also provide tax advantages,” says Ms Lovett.

“It is not necessary to be wealthy to donate or to set up a charitable trust. Donations to the Equity Trustees Foundation can be made with as little as $1000.”

She says it is also possible to establish a perpetual charitable vehicle with a donation of around $20,000.

“Establishing a perpetual charitable trust doesn’t need to be expensive or complicated and is a way to more meaningfully support a chosen charity, than ad hoc donations,” she says.

Equity Trustees Limited (EQT) is a publicly listed company that provides a range of financial services to corporate and private clients. Its businesses include asset management, distribution, responsible entity appointments, private client wealth management, and corporate and personal superannuation.

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For more information please contact:

Tabitha Lovett – Mobile 0438 288 682

Harry Lyon Moss Trust Fund

In 1960, Harry Moss, an investor and financier bequeathed the majority of his estate –worth around 1 million pounds – to be held in a perpetual charitable trust with the annual income paid to the Royal Children’s Hospital.  Since 1960, the Trust’s capital has grown to more than $70 million and has distributed over $45 million to the hospital to date with over $6.7 million received by the hospital since 2011

The Phyllis Connor Memorial Trust

A valued client of Equity Trustees for over 30 years, Miss Phyllis Connor chose to leave the majority of her estate in the “Phyllis Connor Memorial Trust” for “the general benefit of charity in Victoria”, leaving the annual decision as to which charities and causes will be awarded grants at the discretion of her nominated trustees Mr Norman Bourke and Equity Trustees. The Trust, which has over $21 million in funds under management, distributes its income through an annual scholarship program at Melbourne Girls Grammar School where Miss Connor attended and an open application round funding innovative projects.

 

7 February 2014