CHARITY CELEBS

REPORTER: MARGUERITE McKINNON

He passed away last September, but the legacy of Hollywood acting royalty Paul Newman lives on.

What started out as a way to fulfil his zest for cooking, "Paul Newman's Own" salad dressings and condiments has raised over $365 million for charity since it began 25 years ago.

Now, another million has been set aside for Australian charities -- but applications close this Thursday. Sue Home is the Foundation's Australasian administrator. "It varies from year to year and this year it's as much as $75,000 per organisation, so it's very generous", Sue said.

In fact 2009 marks a record in Australian generosity. Nearly $350 million cash was raised for bushfire victims -- and that doesn't include clothes, furniture, toys, food and other essentials -- dwarfing the 2004 Tsunami Appeal record by $100 million. Much of that money come from individuals.

"The most generous Australians are usually those with the least because they give a bigger percentage of their incomes", said Gina Anderson. CEO of Philanthropy Australia.

But many Australians have been upset to learn that outspoken fashion celebrity Carson Kressley. demanded at least $10,000 to visit the Victorian bushfire victims, when others like Jennifer Hawkins waived their figures.

Still, celebrities can be instrumental in the cause for good. When it comes to massive financial donations. overseas individuals and companies are in a class of their own.

Of the celebrities, Oprah Winfrey is the most generous donating $50 million last year to charity, followed by $11 million from Barbra Streisand, ten million from Paul Newman, ten million also from Mel Gibson and $8.5 from glamour couple Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie.

Here, it's harder to trace says Gina. "In Australia, we were always very anonymous about our giving and just in the last few years we've started to see some leading Australians stand up and talk about their giving to encourage their peers and their families and others around them to also give", Gina said.

Individually, much loved Dame Elisabeth Murdoch, mining magnate Andrew Forrest, the late Visy paper king Richard Pratt, along with the Myer and Fairfax families, are the most generous individual donors.

When it comes to big business foundations, The Macquarie Group, Ian Potter, Myer, Colonial and the Geoffrey Gardiner Dairy lead the way. However most companies still give just 2.5% of their wealth to charities. "Those who are the

wealthiest could certainly give a little bit more. I think they comparatively aren't quite as generous as the Americans or even the Canadians", Gina said.

Anti child sexual assault charity, Bravehearts, relies on generosity. "We've got a program where we go into schools and childcare centres and deliver keep safe messages to children, and part of that is a range of songs which are critically important to children remembering the rules of personal safety. We need to get those songs professionally put down and multiplied and copied so we can distribute to the children and we weren't able to do that because we didn't have the funds Paul Newman's Own Foundation have given us the funds and those CD's will be ready for release in June", said Bravehearts', Hetty Johnston.

"We can't change the world, but we'll do our best to make a difference", Sue said.

For further information:

$1 million charity giveaway by 'Paul Newman's Own'...

Expressions of interest welcome until 22nd May 2009.

Visit www.paulnewmansown.com.au for further details.