University of Melbourne

Winner of the 2017 Capital Campaigns and Most Outstanding Fundraising Project

Campaign: Believe – the Campaign for the University of Melbourne

Key Personnel: Professor Glyn Davis AC, Mr Allan Myers AC QC, Mr Nicholas Blinco, Mr Sion Lutley, Mr Alex Furman MFIA

What does winning these awards in 2017 mean for your organisation?
The University of Melbourne is delighted to be recognised with this award. However, what is most important is that the Campaign represents the extraordinary generosity of over 22,000 donors to date. This award is really a testament to that donor community, and to the increasing engagement with philanthropy in Australia. This comes at a time when philanthropy has never been more important for universities, and to the wider charitable sector generally.

How has it impacted on your work in terms of campaign strategies, staff morale etc?
A comprehensive campaign of this nature, running over a number of years, takes a great deal of dedication, focus and discipline. An award such as this certainly raises staff morale – the moment when we announced to our staff that we have been the fortunate recipient certainly raised a cheer!  We thank the FIA for the opportunity to be recognised for this hard work through this award.

Briefly tell us about the campaign that won you this award? What made this campaign so successful?
Believe – the Campaign for Melbourne is our largest-ever philanthropic undertaking and the University’s first Campaign since 1953. With an initial goal of $500 million, we commenced the quiet phase in 2008 and launched the Campaign in 2013. We achieved the financial goal in December 2015, two years ahead of schedule.

For the University of Melbourne, it was a big decision to enter Campaign. While we have a long history of philanthropic support, we had not until recent times developed strategic relationships with donors capable of transformative giving and many potential donor pipelines were dormant. The team went from 0 to 60 in a very short space of time!

The Campaign focused on three main priorities; in line with the University’s own strategy ‘Growing Esteem.’ Focusing on three major priorities helped donors understand the vision of the University and led to a large number of leadership gifts.

These were: educating tomorrow’s leaders, meeting the world’s grand challenges through research and enriching our communities.

A large part of the Campaign’s success was due to successful implementation of our strategy to secure leadership gifts and the amazing commitment from our volunteer and academic leadership – Vice-Chancellor Glyn Davis AC, Campaign Chair Allan Myers AC QC, the Campaign Board, and the wider academic community. By investing in the Advancement capability and developing a supportive internal culture, the University was able to build a series of key relationships with donors and our alumni, leading to transformative leadership gifts.

An important success for the Campaign has been the collaboration of the University with its residential colleges and semi-autonomous bodies. The Campaign created the opportunity to strengthen relationships with over 30 institutes, museums, residential colleges and many other parts of the institution. Donors who felt an affinity with more than area of the University could also give to more than one area, to the benefit of the whole Campaign.

Why did your organisation decide to submit an entry?
The University felt the learnings of this Campaign were important to share with the wider fundraising sector. The increase in the number of significant gifts being given by generous individuals, trusts and organisations is indicative of the growing culture of philanthropy. It’s important that the philanthropic sector is strong, so we hoped that our entry would give the opportunity to talk about our journey and learnings.

What advice or suggestions can you give to other members considering submitting an awards nomination?

Perhaps the only advice is a variation on the old saying in fundraising that if you don’t ask … The experience of going through the submission process was valuable and having to think through the criteria and asses your achievements a very good exercise. Certainly if you have a campaign or program that’s eligible – have a go!