By Amanda Martin
My job is always interesting – but occasionally I have the privilege to witness truly brilliant philanthropic gifting.
In mid-July 2018 I was lucky enough to be invited to morning tea at Government House with Victoria’s first and current female Governor, the Honourable Linda Dessau AC to celebrate the recipients of the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize – the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN).
ICAN was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for 2017 “for its work to draw attention to the catastrophic humanitarian consequences of any use of nuclear weapons and for its ground-breaking efforts to achieve a treaty-based prohibition of such weapons”. This is the first Nobel Peace Prize for an organisation born in Australia.
Why was I there and what did this have to do with philanthropy you may well ask?
In 2006, I was working for Eve Kantor and Mark Wootton’s foundation, the Poola Foundation. At this time, Mark and Eve decided to fund a proposal from the Medical Association for Prevention of War (Australia) in Melbourne and its international federation, International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War, for a new idea. This was ICAN.
ICAN, a tiny community organisation based in Melbourne, wanted to lead a civil society campaign culminating in the negotiation and adoption of a United Nations Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. It was a big vision from a new organisation with no track record, that needed substantial seed financial support over multiple years.
The Poola Foundation, on behalf of the late Tom Kantor and Mark and Eve, resolved to give ICAN a chance to realize the vision, and has continued to fund the organisation over the last fifteen years.
Mark and Eve’s giving demonstrated all the best qualities of philanthropy: they trusted good people, they took on risk and stayed with it over a long period, they shared a courageous vision and they gave core funding. Over time, the extended Kantor Family also gave to ICAN.
And all that led to a Nobel Peace Prize!
On 7 July 2017, by a vote of 122 to 1, the historic Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons was adopted at the UN in New York. This treaty provides a categorical and comprehensive prohibition of everything to do with nuclear weapons and provides a pathway – the only currently defined pathway – for all states to fulfil their obligation to achieve and sustain a world free of nuclear weapons. It will enter into force when 50 states have ratified. As of 25 May 2018, 58 states have signed and 10 have ratified the treaty.
Heartfelt congratulations to Eve, Mark and the extended Kantor Family.