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Action on Poverty: Transforming the future of philanthropy

A local Vietnamese family from the Da Bac region (Image Credit: Action on Poverty).

How pioneering Australian not-for-profit, Action on Poverty, is achieving great global philanthropic impact and inspiring active generosity by redefining ‘traditional’ concepts of charitable giving.

Drawing on a 50-year legacy championing bold international development projects as the trusted partner for global changemakers, Action on Poverty is proudly taking on a new challenge to redefine the ‘traditional’ concept of charitable giving, and it is working.

Aligned to Action on Poverty’s mission of empowerment, the not-for-profit is encouraging Australians to think about modern giving, showcasing the many ways they can make a profound impact on the issues of global poverty.

“In a modern charitable landscape, we must inspire the generosity of more than money. It is Action on Poverty’s focus on transforming a vision, new research, skills, and networks into high-impact programs that is driving forward the future of philanthropy,” Action on Poverty CEO, Mr Brayden Howie, said.

Action on Poverty’s enhanced approach to generosity highlights the role of individuals in creating a more just and equal world. In practice, it signifies how a simple idea, facet of research or connection can be the catalyst for transformative giving that takes direct action on some of humanity’s greatest challenges.

“Our focus has always been on developing innovative, creative, and agile partnership opportunities that address the root causes of poverty and build more resilient communities.

We are one of the few not-for-profits who offer practical involvement in charitable initiatives to give our partners an opportunity to engage in something bigger than themselves,” Mr Howie said.

One such initiative is the award-winning Vietnam Community-Based Tourism (CBT) Model. Showcasing the power of transformative giving, the model grew from an idea by Australian, Dr Vance Gledhill.

A keen hiker and eco-tourist, Dr Gledhill visited the beautiful yet remote, mountainous area of Da Bac in Vietnam and learned of the many residents who remained trapped in a cycle of poverty.

Mr Howie said: “We took Vance to what had been a resource poor, rugged area of Vietnam to better understand the context and needs of the community.

What started as thinking the humanitarian needs related to rural energy resulted in transformative thinking. The communities helped to identify that the primary need was their livelihoods, and that the area abounded in natural and cultural beauty had substantial tourism potential.”

A simple idea to showcase the tourism proposition of the stunning natural environment and unique cultures of the region, coupled with the guidance and connections of Action on Poverty, transformed it into a social enterprise that has inspired further investment from philanthropists and governments.

The program has helped thousands of people out of poverty, with Da Bac attracting 7,500 visitors and generating over $120,000 AUD in income per year.

What stands out about this project is the fact Dr Gledhill went far beyond most philanthropists’ involvement with a not-for-profit. Along with his initial financial investment to develop the project, he became an ongoing part of the program, continually providing comprehensive feedback on the CBT model and participating in crucial meetings with Vietnamese authorities,” explained Howie.

Action on Poverty’s support of transformative giving aligns with a changing international development landscape, with Mr Howie indicating there is a greater need for charities to take a more innovative approach to achieve high-level program impact.

“What was considered highly effective programming in the past is now needing to adapt as populations become more connected, opportunities and markets shift, and ways of working and interacting change. Whilst principles remain consistent, methodologies are changing rapidly,” Mr Howie added.

Action on Poverty aligns partners with high impact initiatives to deliver profound action on international development issues. Importantly, this includes supporting new ideas to launch bespoke programs and bold initiatives to inspire thought-provoking leadership on the future of philanthropy. ​

Today, Action on Poverty works across 14 countries to connect philanthropists, corporates, non-profits, and innovators with developing communities and local NGOs across Africa, Asia, and the Pacific to break the poverty cycle.

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