At a glance

Please contact us online or via phone (03 9633 0033) to discuss leaving a gift in your Will to Lord Mayor's Charitable Foundation.


Lord Mayor's Charitable Foundation is proud to participate in the Include a Charity campaign, encouraging Australians to consider charitable giving as part of their estate planning. 

Learn more 

“Day by day I see the possibilities in the scheme, and it is not unreasonable to forecast through this great organisation, an income sufficient for the maintenance of our charities.” - Sir John Swanson, 1923.

Melbourne’s Lord Mayor Sir John Swanson was a successful businessman and philanthropist.  

As Lord Mayor of Melbourne from 1918 to 1923, Sir John worked hard to establish the Lord Mayor’s Fund for Metropolitan Hospitals and Charities with the aim of organising and co-ordinating charitable giving in Melbourne.  

Sir John was a visionary thinker and was convinced it was possible to provide the city’s hospitals and charities with an assured stream of income in which charities could apply for grants. His idea was to centralise fundraising and provide grants through a scheme based on a community chest.  

The Lord Mayor’s Fund for Metropolitan Hospitals and Charities was officially opened by Acting Premier Sir William McPherson on 14 June 1923 at the Melbourne Town Hall.  

The Lord Mayor’s Fund eventually became Lord Mayor’s Charitable Foundation and the community foundation for Greater Melbourne. It has grown to become one of the largest independent philanthropic foundations in Australia. Tens of millions of dollars has been fundraised and granted to charities and public hospitals since 1923.  

In the past two years, $24.249 million has been provided to charitable and not-for-profit organisations across the Foundation’s Impact Areas.

For almost 100 years, Lord Mayor’s Charitable Foundation has continued to connect donor support to charitable organisations in addressing ongoing social issues such as homelessness and more recently climate change.  

Sir John’s vision has inspired generations of giving and paved the way for Melbourne to be the centre for philanthropy in Australia. Sir John passed away in 1924 leaving a gift in his Will to the Foundation. This gift has been recognised as the first bequest received, establishing the very early beginnings of the Foundation’s corpus. 

Thanks to Sir John Swanson Lord Mayor’s Charitable Foundation will always be an important and leading philanthropic force in Melbourne.


The Swanson Society – celebrating the legacy of gifts in Wills

In September 2015 Lord Mayor’s Charitable Foundation hosted launched The Swanson Society at the Melbourne Town Hall as an opportunity for the Foundation to honour Sir John Swanson and celebrate the ongoing generous support from donors.

The Swanson Society brings together the Foundation’s special supporters who have made a generous gesture to future generations through a gift in their Will to support the Foundation’s grantmaking program and initiatives.  

Donors who include the Foundation in their Will become honoured members of The Swanson Society and are invited to participate in conversations, presentations, and other special events. 

The Swanson Society is a way for the Foundation to celebrate the generosity of our donor’s future support and say thank you during their lifetime. 

Lord Mayor’s Charitable Foundation has grown into one of Australia leading philanthropic organisations thanks to our incredible donors who have chosen to leave gifts in their wills. 

A gift left in a Will to the Foundation leaves a legacy that creates positive ongoing social change in communities across Greater Melbourne. The Foundation is very grateful to our donors for their forward thinking and commitment to supporting the health and wellbeing of Melbourne’s community into the future.