Helen Macpherson Schutt (née Smith) was a remarkable woman. Born in 1874 to a prosperous Scottish-Australian family, Helen lived comfortably in the financial and social circumstances of her family in Melbourne, Victoria. Over her lifetime, she extended the rich legacy of generosity of her forebears.

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Helen was no stranger to philanthropy and continued in her grandfather’s footsteps.

John Macpherson contributed to public appeals including to the building of the Scots Church in Collins Street, Melbourne, and the Free Public Library in Fitzroy, Melbourne’s first suburb. Unlike many women of her time, Helen avoided appearances in the society media. Strongly influenced by her hardworking and tight-knit family, Helen saw opportunity to make a contribution to the community without fuss or fanfare.

Helen’s story

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Helen was a remarkable woman. At a time when the philanthropic acts of Australian women were centred around volunteer work, and when large-scale giving was considered the province of men, Helen chose a different path.

Helen was one of the first life members of The Lost Dogs’ Home, with her name appearing in the list of donors from 1914 to 1935. She was also an active supporter of organisations including the Victorian Missions to Seamen, the RSPCA, the Royal District Nursing Service, the Royal Children’s Hospital and the Royal Victorian Institute for the Blind.

On her passing in 1951, Helen left a bequest of £275,000 ($550,000) for the establishment of a charitable trust in perpetuity to benefit Victorian charities. She astutely put few conditions around the bequest, giving Trustees discretion to support charities of their choosing.

As a result of her foresight and generosity, the Trust has distributed $141.7m to Victorian charities and charitable causes.

Our Principles

A history of generosity

Since the Trust was established, over $141 million has been approved in grants to a wide range of Victorian charitable institutions and a diverse range of projects benefiting Victorians. Search the database to find out more.

Grants Database

Helen’s named beneficiaries

Helen was a philanthropist throughout her life, supporting a number of charitable causes. She was one of the first life members of the Lost Dogs’ Home, with her name appearing in the list of donors in the years between 1914 and 1935. Records of the Victorian Missions to Seamen (now Mission to Seafarers) show she was an honorary member of the Ladies’ Harbour Lights Guild. She donated to the organisation in 1911 and was still doing so in 1927. Helen was also a life member of the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and a regular supporter of the Royal District Nursing Service. In 1919 Helen donated funds to what was then the Melbourne District Nursing Society when the city suffered its worst-ever influenza epidemic. These organisations are named by Helen in her Will, as beneficiaries the Trustees may wish to consider.

View Grants Database