Family Philanthropy

Left to right: Bruce Macarthur, Ruth Armytage AM, Sally White OAM, Geoffrey White OAM, Gina Fairfax AC, Tim Fairfax AC, Libby Fairfax, John B Fairfax AO.


In honouring our founders’ beliefs and intentions, VFFF seeks opportunities to benefit and care for Australians and our country


Backing Young People with innovative opportunities that advance their independence, social purpose and future security

“Here is where we, as individuals, can lead.  As counsellors we can be a “little” leader, and let us remember that the power and wealth of a democracy is measured not
only by the number and quality of its eminent leaders but by thousands of “little” leaders who provide its real strength.”

– Sir Vincent Fairfax, Address at the Opening of the Birthright Conference, 8 October 1983.

In 1962, Sir Vincent Fairfax established a charitable trust that is now the Vincent Fairfax Family Foundation (VFFF). Lady Nancy Fairfax was a Founding Trustee and she bequeathed a large amount of her Estate to the Foundation in 2007, transforming VFFF’s potential to benefit many generations of Australians.

Today, VFFF is a thriving, multi-generational family foundation with three generations of family members involved in our work, having distributed over $200m to Australian communities.

In June 2022, descendants of Sir Vincent and Lady Nancy Fairfax gathered in Sydney to reflect on the impact of 60 years of family philanthropy. Honouring this tradition, the family decided to celebrate its anniversary with a special granting program. The Foundation awarded grants of $180,000 (totalling $2.16m) in untied funds to 12 organisations, advancing the independence, social purpose and future security of young people. This mission, Backing Young People, realises the aspirations of Sir Vincent Fairfax to strengthen “𝘢 𝘴𝘱𝘪𝘳𝘪𝘵 𝘰𝘧 𝘶𝘯𝘪𝘵𝘺 𝘪𝘯 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘧𝘢𝘮𝘪𝘭𝘺, 𝘯𝘢𝘵𝘪𝘰𝘯 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘣𝘦𝘺𝘰𝘯𝘥”, by recognising that young people have an essential part to play.

Sir Vincent Fairfax, Scouts Australia, 1970
Lady Nancy Fairfax, Opening of the Vincent Fairfax Family Foundation Ropes, Outward Bound Australia, 1998
VFFF 60th Anniversary Grant Recipients. Top Row (L-R): John Ralph (Gawura), Stefan Lamour-Jansson (The Girls & Boys Brigade), Bernie Shakeshaft (BackTrack), Kevin Du Preez (Monkey Baa Theatre Company), Addie Wootten (Smiling Mind). Bottom Row (L-R): Loren Miller (Outward Bound Australia), Jane Rowe OAM (Mirabel Foundation), Melissa Abu-Gazaleh (Top Blokes Foundation), Jacquie Emery (Royal Far West), Margo Ward (KidsXpress) and Chris Puplick AM (Australian Theatre for Young People)
Current and former members of the VFFF Grants Committee, Tenth Anniversary Celebration, 2022

In a year of special anniversaries, May 2022 marked the tenth anniversary of the Grants Committee. Since 2012, the Grants Committee has brought younger Fairfax family members together to participate in grant making for VFFF grants up to $50,000. During its first decade, the Committee held 56 meetings, involving 16 family members and has distributed 178 grants totalling $6.35m. The work of the Committee has always been characterised by respectful and rigorous debate, a willingness to have a go and genuine interest and care about the work of not for profit organisations.      

At this ten year mark, there is a sense of renewal and refresh to start the Committee’s next decade. A working group of family members from the third and fourth generations came together to design VFFF’s new Backing the Future grants. The working group utilised VFFF’s flexibility as a charitable trust to design a grants program focused on funding individuals and their early stage ideas for rural and regional young people in NSW and QLD. This new direction will build on the role that the Committee has always been keen to play – backing early stage work, supporting rural and regional areas, taking informed risks and complementing VFFF’s larger grants. Just as the first decade has been hugely successful in engaging the third generation, we are optimistic that the next decade will see the “Rising Generation” – VFFF’s own young people – emerge to play a key role on the Committee.    

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Vincent Fairfax Ethics in Leadership Foundation

The Vincent Fairfax Ethics in Leadership Foundation (VFELF) continues its partnership with the Cranlana Centre for Ethical Leadership to deliver the Vincent Fairfax Fellowship (VFF), a year-long program for senior executives looking to action ethical change within their organisations.

Cohort 26 of the Fellowship recommenced at the beginning of the 2022 calendar year to enable face-to-face engagement following a period of digital engagement during the COVID-19 pandemic. Program Director Dr Matt Beard has led Cohort 26 through a range of activities this year, including an ethics workshop incorporating VFFF grantees in June. This initiative connected Cohort 26 fellows with not for profit organisations to discuss ethical challenges in their work and identify potential pathways forward. 

In 2016, VFFF’s Ethical Development Working Group set an ambitious goal to support young teenagers to use communications technology ethically. Digital Compass was subsequently developed from a five-year partnership with the Behavioural Insights Team (BIT). In 2022, a $1m gift from VFELF to the Alannah & Madeline Foundation (AMF) provided the opportunity for Digital Compass to continue within the AMF’s suite of school-based interventions available to schools across Australia.



Dr Matt Beard, Sally White OAM, Vanessa Pigrum, Dr Tim Soutphommasane, Jenny Wheatley



Acknowledgement of Country

The Vincent Fairfax Family Foundation acknowledges the Gadigal people of the Eora Nation as the Traditional Custodians of the land on which we work, and extends this acknowledgement to all Traditional Custodians of nations where we fund organisations and activities. We pay respect to Elders past and present, and to the continuation of cultural, spiritual and educational practices of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are advised that this website may contain images or names of people who have passed away.