In 2008 two families living a humble suburban life in the outer suburbs of Melbourne (Australia) decided to create their own philanthropic foundation.
However the transition from suburban life to the actively engaged life of a philanthropist was a serious cultural shift for our founding families.
Many people associate the word ‘philanthropy’ with the extremely wealthy, so our humble beginning was met with ignorance and often suspicion.
Our founding families wanted to express their determination in our logo. A logo that also serves as our mission and our charter.
Based on European styles of heraldic design our logo invokes a sense of belonging to the socially connected communities of the Old-World, yet also a rebelling against the corporatised establishment of today.
Heraldry is the study and art of designing, using, and regulating artistic designs that once distinguished one warrior from another on the battlefield.
Heraldry is now used as the unique seal or signature of individuals, family groups, corporations, cities and countries.
Laws regulating heraldic practice vary around the world, but in Europe and a few other places some ancient privileges and obligations still exist. Special fishing rights or the obligation to pay for public infrastructure, like a road, are still legally enforceable on some people who inherit these designs.
Some heraldic traditions are now almost 900 years old.
An armoured knight, pictured below, wearing his helmet, mantling, torse, and crest.
A practice emerged among heavily armoured knights of wearing a large piece of fabric over their helmets and backs to reduce the heat of direct sunlight on their metal armour.
Often this fabric, or mantling, was very precious and richly decorated. To keep their mantling in place the knights used a donut shaped ring of twisted fabric, known as a torse, over the top of their helmets.
Higher ranked nobles began making cheap imitations of the crown belonging to their rank to wear over the torse as well. In time all knights began making elaborate sculptures related to the unique designs on their shields. Like a rooster's comb or a clump of feathers are known as crests, so to these sculptures where called crests as the sat atop knights heads for great display.
As armoured knights were replaced by other technologies their crests moved unto paper and became part of the full heraldic design granted uniquely to each individual.
The wealthy mocked the widow's pathetically small donation, but Jesus was watching and he confronted them. Jesus told them that this widow had given more than they ever could as she gave everything for God and in their greed they clearly would never give up their wealth even for God.
The poor Widow of Mark, 12:41, resonated well with the humble beginnings of our founding families who often gave more to others than they had for themselves, and who were often mocked for doing so.
The Nikolaous Institute of Philanthropy crest, pictured right, draws on the Gospel of Mark, 12:41, which tells us about a starving woman who had lost her husband, a widow.
The story of the widow is that wealthy donors to Herod’s Temple watched this widow who had lost everything give her last two coins, tiny pieces of copper, with no hope of buying any food, just so she could have the dignity of donating to the temple like everybody else.
The Colour Orange commonly seen as a youthful and fun loving colour, though it is rarely used in the commercial world as some people have a strong dislike for it.
Aside from its use as a highly visible safety colour, orange is more often used in the the community and not-for-profit sectors and is traditionally associated with the qualities of caring, giving, charity, innovation, and philanthropy.
Orange, the colour, was so rarely described in the English and European world prior to the 1600’s that the English knew it only as ‘yellow-red’.
Only with the introduction of oranges, the fruit, and later through the Dutch and their royal family of Orange-Nassau, who’s Prince William III of Orange became the King of England, Scotland and Ireland in 1689, did the fruit lend its name to the colour found in its peel. (reference here)
We are carving a space for a philanthropic approach within a legal system that doesn’t yet know how to properly categorise what we do, nor know the distinction between ‘charity’ and ‘philanthropy.’ For us orange was the natural choice as the colour of the philanthropist.
Our shield bears a white flaunche on each side, pictured below.
To suggest that our philanthropic work is a noble cause these flaunches are decorated with a black pattern known as ermine.
Ermine is a traditional heraldic pattern of black markings on a white background, similar to an ermine's tail.
These flaunches of ermine give the appearance of the shield being wrapped in a coat of ermine.
Ermine came to be a sign of office and rank. When ermine was used the black tails were left in place to show that it was authentic.
Pictured right is the coronation robe of an English Earl.
The ermine, pictured above, is a member of the stoat family, which includes weasels, and is highly prized because of its pure white winter coat with a jet black tail.
The ermine's brown summer coat wasn't desirable during the time of year that they could be easily hunted. Only once the winter snow started and hunters faced the greatest hardship did the ermine change to its pure white winter coat. This made ermine prohibitively expensive to all but the highest nobles and officials, like senior judges.
Like our crest draws on the story of the Widow found in the Gospel of Mark, 12:41, so does our main 'charge', or image, of a right hand holding two coins.
In in the study of heraldry a yellow disk or circle is assumed to indicate a coin in most cases. The heraldic name given to this coin like charge is 'bezant' which is a word derived from Byzantium, the ancient name of Istanbul, who's gold coins were the first in regular circulation in medieval Europe.
The Widow of Mark, 12:41, was desperately poor and gave two small ingots of copper worth only a few cents in today's Australian Dollar.
Although the gold bezant of heraldic study seems an unlikely symbol to represent the Widow's copper ingots, the bezant is instantly understood as depicting a coin and therefore the best choice of charge to use.
The rabbit supporters on either side of the shield design are a reference to the personal heraldic design of one of the founding families.
In the language of heraldry and in our logo design these particular rabbits are known as 'coneys.'
The heraldic motto has its origins in the battle cry warriors might use to intimidate the enemy and inspire fellow warriors.
Today the use of a motto is often about projecting less combative qualities or messages.
Mottos can be written in any language, but are most commonly written in Latin, the language of education and one of the foundation languages of the English language itself and many others.
Our mission is to "... invest in the social capital of the future through building healthier and stronger communities."
Our Latin motto is “SALUS POPULI SUPREMA LEX.” The best English language translation reads “the welfare of the people is the highest law.”
This is our simple and bold charter, forcefully asserting or ethical position, our vision and our mission.
All original text, artwork, photography, video and information is copyright of the Nikolaous Institute of Philanthropy Pty Ltd. The Nikolaous Institute of Philanthropy Pty Ltd. logo is also a fully registered Tradmark. © Copyright - 2009, Nikolaous Institute of Philanthropy Pty Ltd.