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The Fleur Spitzer Sub-Fund | Pro Bono Australia

Fund Honours Feminist Philanthropist

The Victorian Women’s Benevolent Trust has launched a new sub-fund to honour and recognise one of Melbourne’s most influential philanthropists, Fleur Spitzer.

The Women’s Trust said that while Spitzer was not a household name, her generosity had had an immeasurable impact on the lives of many people in the community and she had been a shining example for other female philanthropists.

“We are very proud to publicly honour Fleur for her contribution and energy on behalf of all Victorians and most particularly, women and girls,” executive director of the Victorian Women’s Trust Mary Crooks said.

“For nearly 20 years Fleur’s support of the Trust has not wavered and we are very grateful for her commitment. She has always funded projects that assist women and girls who were doing it tough in the face of real and prolonged disadvantage.”

Fleur Spitzer with her daughter Ondine. (Image by Breeana Dunbar Photography)

“The principles of social change and justice have been the cornerstone of Fleur Spitzer’s image of a better world.”

An early member of the Women’s Electoral Lobby, Spitzer hosted many meetings in her home as the organisation lobbied and fought for changes in government policy specifically around issues of equal pay, equal employment opportunity, equal access to education, free contraceptive services, abortion on demand and free 24-hour child care.

“Spitzer’s major forays into philanthropy started in the late 80s and she charted a giving path that stepped aside from what she saw as the traditional and conservative approach to philanthropy in Melbourne, a city where people thought it impolite and indecent to speak about having money,” Crooks said.

“Fleur showed determination and courage to go against the established trend and to bring philanthropy out of the shadows.”

Crooks said the establishment of the sub-fund was a family decision and an exemplar of how children can continue building on the work and values held by their parents and in this case, their mother.

Spitzer’s daughter, Ondine Spitzer, said her mother’s involvement with the Victorian Women’s Trust had been longstanding.

“The breadth of projects she has supported through the trust over her lifetime has been astonishing; from services for rural women and support of Indigenous women to literacy programs for women and girls, the rights of Muslim women and an educational film about domestic violence,” Spitzer said.

She said it was striking how astutely her mother targeted support for pilot projects as a way of giving opportunities for the exploration of some great ideas and initiatives.

Fleur Spitzer had previously talked about her philanthropic giving saying: “I would like women to see philanthropy as a way of supporting something that they believe in.”

Crooks said that by creating the sub-fund the Victorian Women’s Trust held up Spitzer as an example of a philanthropist who has shown great foresight in supporting landmark projects that have gone on to provide significant community benefit.

The Victorian Women’s Trust, which celebrated its 30th anniversary in 2015, was established in 1995 with a $1 million gift from the Victorian Government. Since 1985, the Trust has provided more than $6.7 million in grants to nearly 650 community and charitable organisations in Victoria.

The Fleur Spitzer sub-fund will support projects that:

  • increase the literacy, educational opportunity and empowerment of women and girls
  • identify and address barriers that deny older women safety, security and dignity.

The sub-fund will be open for applications in 2017.

This article originally appeared online in Pro Bono Australia. It was published by Lina Caneva on July 21 2016. To see the original article, please click here. 

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