Philanthropy often gets in the news because of mega-gifts – from the likes of the Packers and tech billionaires. It is not surprising that generosity on such a scale captivates us, but the mega-gifts are one part of a much larger story about giving in this nation.

We are in the middle of a major transformation of what I call the ecology of philanthropy in Australia.

People are realising philanthropy, or structured, strategic giving is something everybody can do. There are so many different ways Australians are getting involved in philanthropy, and so many organisations and people helping them do so.

Across Australia, new "giving circles" are being set up – they're an exciting and accessible way for people to give.

They aim to sign up at least 100 members, with each donating $1000 which will then be pooled to make collective high-impact grants.

We're also seeing community foundations charging ahead – bringing people and resources together to help solve difficult social challenges in communities.

This week, community foundations from across Australia will be converging on the Yarra Valley near Melbourne to share ideas and discuss how they can grow their impact across Australia, an event which Philanthropy Australia is co-presenting.

We're at a tipping point, but we still need to inspire more Australians to reach into their pockets and give.

In 2011-12, 38 per cent of taxpayers with a taxable income above $1 million didn't claim a single tax deductible gift. More of these taxpayers claimed back the costs of managing their tax affairs than claimed a gift to charity. I find that staggering, but it's not just those on higher incomes who may need more inspiration.

If you look at workplace giving in 2011-12, only 4.5 per cent of employees participated in a giving program run by their employer. That said there are some real success stories such as job site SEEK, which has over 50 per cent of their employees participating in workplace giving.

As the peak body for philanthropy, Philanthropy Australia is trying to inspire Australians to become more involved.

When I am approached by someone asking me how they can help grow philanthropy more broadly, I always say that one of the best inspirations is going public with your story.

That's why it's great to see the story of Sydney entrepreneur Babak Moini, who while proposing to his partner Rochelle Collis at her 40th birthday last Saturday night, also gave a $1 million donation to charity. They plan to set up a foundation to continue their giving, which is fantastic news.

Going public isn't for everybody, but the more people who talk about their philanthropy, the more it encourages others to stop and think about whether they are doing their bit. And again, that doesn't just apply to wealthy people – if you do workplace giving, why don't you chat about it more with your co-workers, family and friends?

Philanthropy Australia is also big on thought leadership, endeavouring wherever we can to bring innovative thinkers together from Australia and abroad to share ideas about how we can grow giving and its impact. That's what our 2014 national conference in Melbourne this week is all about.

We're also excited about the opportunity to contribute to the success of initiatives like the Australian Government's Community Business Partnership, which will bring together community and business leaders to advise on strategies to grow philanthropy.

The previous partnership established by then prime minister John Howard, was instrumental in delivering key reforms to grow giving in Australia, and we are keen for the new partnership to build on that success.

As I look back on the developments in Australian philanthropy over the last two years, I think about how far we've come. What's exciting is how far we can still go.

With so many ways to get involved in philanthropy, now is the time for us all to be thinking about how we can give back. I see the difference philanthropy makes every day. Come be part of it.

Louise Walsh is the CEO of Philanthropy Australia.

Louise Walsh - Sydney Morning Herald -