Canberra gay couple Tom Snow and Brooke Horne have been awarded for their philanthropic support during last year’s marriage equality campaign.
On Thursday night, the couple won the the Award for Best Large Grant at the 2018 Australian Philanthropy Awards for their contribution of seed funding to what would become the Equality Campaign, the peak group lobbying for the “yes” campaign for marriage equality last year.
The couple’s initial contribution led to close to $20 million being raised from cash and in-kind donations to professionally coordinate the “yes” campaign.
While there were some high-profile corporate donors, Snow said most of the more than 10,000 cash donations were from ordinary Australians “who wanted all citizens treated equally in the marriage debate.”
Mr Horne said the award was a “huge honour that we share with every single person who donated money or time to achieve marriage equality.”
“The Equality Campaign was the result of significant philanthropic leadership that gave strength to the thousands of everyday Australians who were willing to stand up and push for fairness and equality,” he said.
The couple were married in New Zealand in April, 2015 and have three children – seven-year-old twins and a three-year-old. They said they were “accidental activisits” who fell into the marriage equality campaign.
“It started in August 2015 when [Liberal MP] Warren Entsch was introducing a [marriage equality] bill into the Liberal Party room,” Snow told the Canberra Times.
“We as a family – that’s me and Brooke, but the whole Snow family – wanted to support that.”
The family initially paid for pro-equality advertising to light up the Canberra Airport terminal in rainbow colours to greet politicians arriving at the national capital.
But when the national marriage equality postal survey was announced, the couple were concerned about the impact of the debate on their family.
“We’ve got three children and we were deeply afraid as a family of the impact that would have, the impact on our kids, but also young gay and lesbian Australians and their families. So we said, ‘We will step in and help,'” Snow said.
The Equality Campaign became a partnership between a range of organisations including Australian Marriage Equality, the Human Rights Law Centre, GetUp! and ACON, which in turn built a coalition of over 2,000 companies, unions and grassroots community organisations across Australia.
Meanwhile, an innovative Indigenous program and an initiative to support victims of domestic violence were among the other initiatives to be honoured for their impact and innovation at the 2018 Australian Philanthropy Awards, at the Sydney Opera House on Thursday night.
Philanthropy Australia CEO Sarah Davies said some of the project recognised at this year’s awards had forever changed the national landscape for the better.
“The recipients of the 2018 Awards truly showcase the capacity of philanthropy to contribute to meaningful social change,” Davies said.
“They demonstrate that philanthropy today is not just about the money – it’s about a vision of what can be better and how philanthropy can help turn this vision into reality through analysis, insight, strategy, partnership, collaboration and risk-taking.”