Chuck Feeney Joins Mother Theresa and Nelson Mandela On Australia’s Top Honors List

Chuck Feeney AC with Prime Minister Kevin Rudd AC holding the front page of the Brisbane Courier Mail with the caption “Thanks a billion.” The story announced AP’s 2008 donation of $102,500,000 ($102.5m) to help build the Translational Research Institute, the QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute and the Queensland University of Technology Science and Technology Precinct. At the time, this was the largest philanthropic gift in Australia’s history, and it helped to build more than $800,000,000 ($800m) worth of infrastructure during the Global Financial Crisis (GFC). Photo: Dr Dave Kennedy.

The Commonwealth of Australia has awarded Chuck Feeney an Honorary Companion (AC) in the General Division of the Order of Australia for his services to Australian medical research and higher education (

The AC Award is the highest civilian honor granted by the Australian government. The Honorary AC is a special category reserved for those who are not Australian citizens but who have given extraordinary service to Australia or humanity at large. Previous recipients include four Nobel Peace Prize laureates: Mother Theresa, Nelson Mandela, Aung San Suu Kyi and José Ramos-Horta.

Feeney, through his philanthropic foundation, The Atlantic Philanthropies (AP), has given away more than 99.99% of his wealth – more than $11,000,000,000 ($11bn). He’s considered the world’s greatest champion of “giving while living” and has inspired a number of prominent philanthropists including Bill & Melinda Gates and Warren Buffett. At 91 years of age, he is one of only 3 billionaires in history to give away all their wealth while still alive.

In Australia alone, Feeney has donated $549,000,000 ($549m) and has helped to construct 26 university and medical research buildings with a built value of more than $2,000,000,000 ($2bn). A pioneer of leveraged grant making, he routinely insisted on co-funding by grantees, state and federal governments and other philanthropists. And by actively assisting his grantees in fundraising, he introduced Australia to his unique form of “muscular philanthropy”.

In announcing the Honorary AC, the Hon Patrick Gorman MP, Assistant Minister to the Prime Minister, said: “I congratulate Mr Charles Feeney on his appointment as an Honorary Companion (AC) in the General Division of the Order of Australia. Mr Feeney’s philosophy of ‘giving while living’ has changed the culture of Australian philanthropy. He is the ultimate quiet achiever, keeping his generosity secret for decades until it was revealed in 1996 that he was the head of The Atlantic Philanthropies. Mr Feeney has not just donated his own wealth but has encouraged governments at different levels to match that investment in scientific and medical research. His visionary approach has ensured a magnified contribution to society that will endure for many generations, alongside his support for ground-breaking scientific discoveries.”


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