Five minutes with…Shirstine Green

Shirstine Green is the head of fundraising for Berry Street, a Victorian-based community services organisation and charity that helps children, young people and families impacted by abuse, violence and neglect. She likes fundraising for their early intervention programs and says her team is fantastic. What you didn’t know: she knows how to install a rainwater tank and can make unicorns fly!

You worked in marketing for many years. Why did you switch to fundraising?

While I was running my own consulting agency, I was lucky enough to work on a project for Plan International Australia, launching a new-to-market peer-to-peer ambassador program. During this time, I became aware that I could use my professional experience to change outcomes for other people in a very positive way. I’ve had an amazing career so far and continue to enjoy the new challenges that fundraising brings to me.

Some career highlights?

  • Head of Sydney 2000 Olympic Games for Telstra Mobile Net and bringing new technology to Australia such as cell broadcast vending machines, near field marketing apps and rental phones (pre-paid options) for the NBC news broadcasters.
  • As general manager of fundraising at Make-A-Wish – making wishes come true for some very special children – ranging from a day at the race track to making a unicorn fly across Melbourne!
  • Learning how to install a rainwater tank – part of incorporating a new product at Origin Energy.
Hair today: Shirstine Green (right) with Berry Street team members Emma Padgett and Raj Selvam at ‘Braids and Beers.’ This event helps dads learn how to braid their daughters’ hair in a convivial environment

What attracted you to work at Berry Street?

Berry Street has been a constant presence in the child and family charity space for over 140 years. With the appointment of a new CEO, I saw this as an exciting time to be involved in the new direction; particularly embracing a new strategic plan focusing on early intervention program innovation to improve the work we do with the people we work with and support.

Our new strategy has seen the evolution and development of new programs, services and opportunities for us to intervene proactively into systemic community issues much earlier. As a result, it assists us in making a positive impact on people’s futures.

Being able to lead a diverse team who are responsible for raising funds for this new vision for the future is fantastic. It has provided us with the opportunity to contribute to the future and success of Berry Street. 

What does a typical day look like for you?

I’m lucky to get one of those! Every day is a different challenge. I generally like to get in early before everyone else to get through the admin tasks and emails where I can quickly respond. Then it’s off to meetings, briefing staff on programs, or just keeping on top of the varied day-to-day activities within the team such as data, direct marketing, supporter care or corporate and community requests.

Poster for Braids and Beers event.

What do you enjoy about the role as head of fundraising, and what are the challenges?

I enjoy that every day is different and that we’re constantly coming up with new approaches, stories and opportunities. But the days I get to meet our supporters, thank them for their efforts and hear their stories, is by far the highlight.

For me, the challenges of the role are often simply not having enough hours in the workday.

What do you look for when you’re recruiting fundraisers?

Enthusiasm, passion and pro-activeness. It’s important when you’re trying to keep the cost of fundraising to a minimum that you can pitch in all aspects of fundraising and make a positive contribution.

How essential is teamwork?

Extremely important – it’s what makes work less stressful, provides a sense of unity, assists with positive collaboration and helps us to bring out the best in each other. It creates great work outcomes and a happy, cohesive team.

What fundraising work have you been most proud of at Berry Street?

I’ve only been here a year; however, in the short time I’ve had, I’m most proud of my team. We’ve come a long way in picking up programs and areas that weren’t working well and have made it our priority to improve outcomes.

How do you track your fundraising targets?

We do this as a team through a plethora of Excel spreadsheets and queries. It’s not the most efficient way to work; however, it does the job while we get our accounting system up and running, and integrated with fundraising programs.

What skills does a head of fundraising need these days?

  • Project management – crucial when juggling so many programs and keeping up with the team’s day-to-day activity.
  • Being flexible.
  • Communications.

How critical is volunteer work to you?

I think volunteering is important. It keeps you connected to others around you and the community.

What do you like to do in your spare time?

Plan my next holiday, look after life admin and try to catch up with family and friends where I can!