History of The Foundation

Key events in the history and evolution of The Ian Potter Foundation.


Former financier and businessman, Craig Connelly is appointed as the Foundation's fifth Chief Executive Officer, December 2015.

New CEO appointed

Celebrating The Ian Potter Foundation's 50th Anniversary, 2014

The Ian Potter Foundation celebrates its 50th anniversary with $5.5m in commemorative grants, a series of receptions at Government House in each state and territory, a gala dinner at the National Gallery of Victoria and the production of a celebratory book, The Ian Potter Foundation 50 Years: Looking Back, Reaching Forward



In 2014 the Foundation's total grant distributions exceed $200 million. Foundation's staff numbers 13 employees.


Annual grant distributions exceed $20 million for the first time.


The Ian Potter Cultural Trust celebrates its 20th anniversary


The Foundation's corpus reaches $500 million.


'Ian Potter - A Biography' by Peter Yule is published


Janet Hirst appointed Chiefe Executive Officer (2005- current)


The Alec Prentice Sewell Gift established following his $8 million bequest to the Foundation

Professor Kerry Bennett appointed Chief Executive Officers (until 2005)


Commemorative dinner for the anniversary of Sir Ian Potter's 100th birthday

The Foundation's largest gift to date: $15 million to NGV Australia


Executive secretary Pat Feilman retires.
Dr Dorothy Scott appointed Chief Executive Officer (until 2004)


The seahorse motif officially adopted as the Foundation's logo


Augmented by Sir Ian's will, the Foundation's corpus reaches $100 million.


Death of Sir Ian Potter, aged 92.


Corpus exceeds $40 million.


The Ian Potter Cultural Trust established


Charles Goode appointed Chairman of the Board of Governors


Annual grant distributions exceed $1 million for the first time.


The Foundation's corpus exceeds $5 million.


Sir Ian Potter appointed a fellow of the Australian Academy of Science.


Sir Ian marries Primrose Dunlop (Lady Potter)


Board of Governors formalise guidelines for assessing grant applications


The seahorse motif appears on the fist distribution report of the Foundation.

'seahorse' was Potter's cable address


Annual grant distributions exceed $100,000

26 June 1964, first meeting of the Governors of The Ian Potter Foundation. Trust deed signed.

First grants totalling 28,000 pounds approved.


Patricia Feilman appointed Executive Secretary of The Ian Potter Foundation


Federal Treasurer, Harold Holt, introduces amendment to the Income Tax Assessment Act authorising deductions for gifts to a public philanthropic fund.


Ian Potter's first major philanthropic gift helps establish the Howard Florey Institute

Ian Potter awarded the Knight Bachelor for public service.

Sir Ian Potter's passion for medical research began before he established his own philanthropic organisation. The Howard Florey Institute for Experimental Physiology and Medicine was opened in 1963 by Prime Minister Menzies and Howard Florey himself.

Helping set up the Florey spiked Sir Ian's interest in the power of philanthropy. This experience motivated him to set up his own foundation.


August 25, William Ian Potter born in Kogarah, NSW.

William Ian Potter was born in Kogarah, a south Sydney suburb on Botany Bay on 25 August 102. His father was a charming wastrel, who lost his wife Louisa's inheritance on a series of failed business ventures. Young Bill (as his family called him) was educated at Cleveland Street Intermediate High School in Redfern but left school at the age of 14.

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