There are many deserving charities and community based organisations that do good work in our city. All sizes, all needs and all needing money to continue but for so many there's no opportunity to put their needs onto the noticeboard or into the system where monies are available. So often their continuing is in the hands of an army of volunteers who are often taken for granted. The need for an innovative way of supporting these diverse needs has become a worthwhile organisation called Hands Across Canberra.

An idea of Sandra Lambert during her time as the chief executive of the Department of Disability, Housing and Community Services, it is now three years old and doing just fine in the good hands of people familiar with the underbelly of need in our community and able to garner the support of our local philanthropic networks. To put a different face on philanthropy the guest speaker at the third annual luncheon for Hands Across Canberra held at Gandel Hall at the National Gallery of Australia was that most Aussie of Aussies, Dick Smith, with a stirring story to tell of not just his own philanthropy but the lack of it among many of his wealthy friends and associates. In the firing line are the big four.

Smith gives those who write to him asking for help - he's absolutely committed to giving on a regular basis - the names and addresses of the big four and encourages them to write and ask for a smidgen of their bonus. Maybe they respond, we'll never know. The biggest philanthropist in Australia is Chuck Feeney of Atlantic Philanthropies and we've benefited to the tune of $18 million from Paul Newman's generosity. Americans are good at philanthropy, we need to know if we are by acknowledging the big givers and supporting their companies.