Australia, Business Strategy, Corporate sponsorship, fundraising, Not for Profit Sector, partnerships, philanthropy, Strategic Planning, Uncategorized

Can $50million ever be a bad thing?


Much has been made of a recent philanthropic gift of $50m to an Australian university to set up a scholarship fund. Quite right, you might say.

The donation secured Graham and Louise Tuckwell the honour of having made the largest philanthropic donation to an Australian university by individuals.

The couple funded 25 scholarships of $20,000 each per annum for up to 5 years.

An interesting question is whether the University would have set up the scholarships without this impressive and very generous donation – ie was the scholarship a strategic or donor driven decision? Many organisations struggle with these questions. Should we accept a large gift which we otherwise would not receive unless we tie the gift to the donor’s specific requirements? It is not suggested that in this case the university in question had this dilemma – but is there ever a time when $50m is a bad thing?

Most not-for-profit organisations can cite examples of where trying to deliver on a donor request in order to secure a large gift has cost them more than if they hadn’t accepted the funds in the first place.

When a business (and non profit or otherwise we are all businesses) tries to deliver solely what is of interest to the donor, time and resources are taken away from other strategic priorities. Staff can become disheartened when they see their core needs being unmet while other ‘less urgent’ projects taking priority.

How do we avoid these situations and put ourselves in the best possible position to accept a generous gift AND improve our capacity to deliver on our core values and deliverables? I would suggest 3 things:

1. Be willing to have a transparent and honest discussion with the potential donor about what will really help your organisation deliver on its mission. What do you really need to move the organisation forward and meet the supporter’s philanthropic objectives?

2. Have a plan around your vision – if you can’t share your strategic vision with potential supporters how can they fund your highest priorities? If you don’t know, neither will they. Create a strategic plan with room for growth – show how you would put their funds to the best possible use.

3. Be willing to say no. Or to be more positive, be willing to say ‘yes’ to the gifts that will push you and your organisation along on its journey. Yes, you must always be flexible and you should know where the line is.

I wish all organisations the very best of luck and good fortune in their fundraising and hope their planning is going well for the next financial year. May another multi-million donation be just around the corner. Make sure you’re ready to say ‘Yes’ to it.

Read more about the donation here at the excellent Fundraising & Philanthropy Magazine

Australia, Uncategorized

Happy Australia Day!

australian-flag-mapIt’s the day we celebrate Australia’s coming of age…Celebrated annually on 26 January, the date commemorates the arrival of the First Fleet at Sydney Cove, New South Wales in 1788 and the proclamation at that time of British sovereignty over the eastern seaboard of Australia. (Thanks Wikipedia)!

It’s also called ‘Invasion Day’ by many indigenous people who see it as not a day to celebrate but a day to commiserate.

Whatever your views, it is a beautiful, prosperous – for most – country where many have built successful, safe, satisfying lives. So. Happy Australia Day.

Australia, fundraising, Melbourne, Melbourne Zoo, partnerships, Uncategorized

Monty Python Palin in Melbourne

Michael Palin – the ‘nice one’ from the English Monty Python series will visit Melbourne Zoo next week to be the guest speaker for our annual fundraiser. We’re all very excited – how could we not be if we’ve seen K-K-K-Ken in ‘A Fish Called Wanda’ ?! We hope he’ll enjoy what we have planned for him… meet the Meerkats, Browse the Butterflies…and eat fantastic food prepared by celebrity chefs… AND help raise a lot of money, we hope. A night to remember! Visit

Australia, life balance, Uncategorized

Sunday mornings can be murder

I switched on my television around 10am this Sunday morning to watch something inconsequential while I ate my porridge. What I saw made me reach for my remote control and stop eating my porridge and wondered, not for the first time, what a strange community we have become.

I saw: a man, being viciously, slowly strangled by another man, while a baptist preacher looked on. They were all standing in a river. A communal baptism had been underway and this happy event had been interrupted by the murder. All of the participants of the baptism looked on in shock and horror and had grimaces on their faces that pretty much matched the one on my own at that moment.

The images continued for another 10 or so seconds before I managed to find the remote and switch it off . The final scene was of the murderer showing his police badge to the immobile onlookers. A policeman had committed this murder on a Sunday morning.

It was drama. It wasn’t real. But everyone involved showed the shock of the moment when a man apparently died in front of our eyes. And I don’t mean they gave the impression that a murder had taken place a la Hercule Poirot or Agatha Christie. It was fully detailed with every eye bulge on full display. Is this acceptable? Yes I can switch it off, no it’s ‘not real’. But is it acceptable? Or reasonable to switch on to something like that with no warning, no disclaimer … danger, danger… you are about to see something horrible the memory of which will stay with you most of the day.

It seems immoral or perhaps just incredibly sad to be able to watch these terrible incidents early on a Sunday morning or perhaps any morning. If one was to actually commit this type of offence, you’d get 25 years to life if you’re caught. But you can watch someone simulate it. At 10am in the morning and with regular repeats.

I can choose what I watch and don’t watch but that doesn’t stop it being shown for anyone else to watch, and absorb or get upset about or perhaps even worse, to accept it as … normal which it seems it is swiftly becoming.

Perhaps in future, I’ll eat my breakfast outside in the garden with my cats for conversation – they are generally much more entertaining and understand what is required to make your morning turn into the right sort of day.

Australia, Mars, NASA, Uncategorized

Mars…just the beginning

Image from
Love this photo of Pres Barak Obama calling Mars from Airforce 1. Copyright

So far, the reality of the achievement of our Mars landing by ‘Curiosity’ has yet to sink in. The photos are a little fuzzy and there’s just a little human curiosity about what will be found apart from a few uber-geeks (I may or may not relate to that)
But wait. It’s not so much about the destination but the journey. What have we learned to do on the journey to be able to make this landing possible?
Curiosity was designed and tested using Siemens software as an example – one can only imagine what they’ve learned from the experience and what the next generation of Siemens products will look like based on this amazing achievement.

And then there’s the possibility that they will find something alive out there. Yes okay it might be a microbe (and not an entire generation of 2 metre tall, green Martians ready to take over the world a la War of the Worlds), it will still be very, very exciting. It will mean, even if its just a microbe, that we are not alone. There is something else out there that didn’t come from our planet and was created in a way we know nothing about.
And what will that do to us to learn that.
I like this type of space exploration as it makes me think that we are investing in our universal knowledge. I am less happy about the space exploration that involves mining asteroids – why do we want to blow stuff up all the time?! You cant learn much from stuff you keep exploding!
Anyway, I digress. I’m ready to buy my ticket on the first inter-planetary (Virgin Galactic?) passenger craft. Let’s keep peacefully exploring and learning and finding ways to make our life on this planet a bit better by the discoveries we make along the way. I love it that Pres. Barak Obama made a call to Mars. It’s all so Star Trek New Generation! Go NASA. Go Curiosity. You little beauty.

Australia, Business Strategy, Not for Profit Sector, Women in Business

Values driven Value

I’m working on an idea that if for profit businesses are all about delivering value, then not for profit enterprises are about delivering on values. In 2012 and beyond we may see more of these two elements combining to bring about the values driven business. Money driven social enterprise if you will.

Consumers are looking for businesses that have sustainable business practices, that are ‘gentle’ on the environment, that utilise local resources rather than outsourcing everything overseas and are activity contributing to the positive health of community through their core business.

Since their invention, companies have focused on creating shareholder value as their primary objective. Consumers however are looking to those companies in an attempt to measure their shared values to see if they are the sorts of company their want to do business with. Shareholders too are looking at businesses to see if they ‘fit’ not just if they’ll fly financially. It’s not all about the mighty dollar any more.

For too long commercial organisations have tried to show how much they ‘care’ about the community by creating corporate social responsibility programmes (CSR) with the aim of offsetting some of their less positive activities (such as digging large holes in the ground, cutting down trees. filling our air with smog etc) or to emphasise their efforts to contribute to their community by promoting their charitable giving or the volunteering efforts of their staff. All of these things run along side their actual raison d’être. In the worst cases, these programmes are often add-ons and little more than lip service for some organisations. It’s something corporations have to be seen to be doing in order to be seen as good corporate citizens.

However the world is changing and consumers are asking for something more. It is not enough that businesses make good on their less popular actions by offsetting with ‘good works’. Consumers are looking for companies to change their business models so that their core business actions change. Make money but do it without destroying the planet and without destroying ‘my’ local community in particular.

In the past non-profit organisations were the ones which, by focusing on what is important to their constituents and stakeholders: their values, attempted to address the social imbalances of the world by helping to provide clean water, housing, medicine to the poorest of communities, protecting endangered species. At the same time, in part due to their use of the public purse, they are required to be come more efficient, more business like. Commercial businesses are behaving in their practices more like for-profits and in turn, commercial organisations are re-examining their modus operandi to determine what really matters and the way they make money; in effect becoming more like non-profits. What we’ll see is a merging of these two into a hybrid for-profit, for purpose organisation that is in the business of making money while at the same time attempting to address the key social issues of our time: poverty, health, inequality, education. Is this what is meant by social entrepreneurship?

More on this later. Comments?

Australia, life balance, Uncategorized

Live life then blog

It’s commendable that you’re reading this however, is there any risk that you (and I) are letting reality enhancing technology replace reality?
There are some suggestions that members of the Australian Olympics team spent too much of their time pre-competition blogging, skyping and social networking about what they were going to do before they’d done it when perhaps they should have been training or resting.
Are we spending too much time living our lives on-line to the real detriment of our actual lives? If blogs and commentary become all about what we might do or just reflect on what someone else is saying on another on-line space, do we risk thinking that on line is actually better than life?
On an old UK science-fiction/comedy tv show, Red Dwarf, one episode had the characters playing a virtual reality game called just that : Better than life. While they played, they failed to eat, drink or sleep. They logged on to BTL and logged out of reality. Their bodies almost died while they played a better life in their heads. A computer-intervention (ironic!) showed them the exit back to a more mundane but nonetheless real existence and thereby saved their lives.
Are we at risk of this fate? If so, our computers are unlikely the benign type that will ‘wake us up’.
I leave you to ponder the results of our swimmers and other athletes and decide for yourself. I have to go and have lunch with my husband. In the real world.
Australia, birds, Melbourne, Queensland, Victoria, Williamstown

I’ve been away too long…

I’ve been neglecting my blog…! So here is a a short but hopefully humourous and joyful look around my neighbourhood of Williamstown, Victoria with a few side visits to Tasmania and Queensland while I get back into serious blogging 🙂 I’ve been thinking we need a bit more fun around us (particularly in Melbourne… we take life too seriously considering how good we have it here!) So… smile, enjoy and let me know if you like it. BTW I’m pinning these to Never heard of it? Neither had I. Another social networking site… seems to be catching on. Again, let me know if it interests you.
Ciao for niao 🙂
Who could resist these dollar deals
A litle graffiti goes a long way...
Brush tail possums are tourist attractions after 6pm in Williamstown, Victoria

No head for heights!

Fairy toodstool

short art


Homo sapiens on the verge of Extinction!

THE 2011 DARWIN AWARDS. Always good to understand the limitations of our species.
In reverse order of stupidity:

Eighth Place
In Detroit, a 41-year-old man got stuck and drowned in two feet of water after squeezing head first through an 18-inch-wide sewer grate to retrieve his car keys.

Seventh Place
A 49-year-old San Francisco stockbroker, who “totally zoned when he ran”, accidentally jogged off a 100-foot high cliff on his daily run.

Sixth Place
While at the beach, Daniel Jones, 21, dug an 8 foot hole for protection from the wind and had been sitting in a beach chair at the bottom, when it collapsed, burying him beneath 5 feet of sand. People on the beach used their hands and shovels trying to get him out but could not reach him. It took rescue workers using heavy equipment almost an hour to free him. Jones was pronounced dead at a hospital.

Fifth Place
Santiago Alvarado, 24, was killed as he fell through the ceiling of a bicycle shop he was burglarizing. Death was caused when the long flashlight he had placed in his mouth to keep his hands free rammed into the base of his skull as he hit the floor.

Fourth Place
Sylvester Briddell, Jr., 26, was killed as he won a bet with friends who said he would not put a revolver loaded with four bullets into his mouth and pull the trigger.

Third Place
After stepping around a marked police patrol car parked at the front door, a man walked into H&J Leather & Firearms intent on robbing the store. The shop was full of customers and a uniformed officer was standing at the counter. Upon seeing the officer, the would-be robber announced a hold-up and fired a few wild shots from a target pistol.

The officer and a clerk promptly returned fire, and several customers also drew their guns and fired. The robber was pronounced dead at the scene by Paramedics. Crime scene investigators located 47 expended cartridge cases in the shop. The subsequent autopsy revealed 23 gunshot wounds. Ballistics identified rounds from 7 different weapons. No one else was hurt.

Paul Stiller, 47, and his wife Bonnie were bored just driving around at 2 A.M. so they lit a quarter stick of dynamite to toss out the window to see what would happen. Apparently they failed to notice that the window was closed.

Kerry Bingham had been drinking with several friends when one of them said they knew a person who had bungee-jumped from a local bridge in the middle of traffic. The conversation grew more excited, and at least 10 men trooped along the walkway of the bridge at 4:30 AM. Upon arrival at the midpoint of the bridge, they discovered that no one had brought a bungee rope. Bingham, who had continued drinking, volunteered and pointed out that a coil of lineman’s cable lay nearby. They secured one end around Bingham’s leg and then tied the other to the bridge. His fall lasted 40 feet before the cable tightened and tore his foot off at the ankle. He miraculously survived his fall into the icy water and was rescued by two nearby fishermen. Bingham’s foot was never located.

Zookeeper Friedrich Riesfeldt ( Paderborn , Germany ) fed his constipated elephant 22 doses of animal laxative and more than a bushel of berries, figs and prunes before the plugged-up pachyderm finally got relief. Investigators say ill-fated Friedrich, 46, was attempting to give the ailing elephant an olive oil enema when the relieved beast unloaded.

The sheer force of the elephant’s unexpected defecation knocked Mr Riesfeldt to the ground where he struck his head on a rock as the elephant continued to evacuate 200 pounds of dung on top of him. It seems to be just one of those freak accidents that proves… ‘Shit happens’

IT ALWAYS SEEMS IMPORTANT TO THANK THESE PEOPLE FOR REMOVING THEMSELVES FROM THE GENE POOL. You will also notice that all (bar one wife) are men – is there a theme here?

Australia, birds, Birdwatching, Melbourne, Photography

Twitch away!

Blackwinged StiltFebruary 5th, 2012

I am rather taken with birdwatching at the moment and as such I have turned into a ‘twitcher’. The Oxford Dictionary defines a ‘twitcher’ as …. well, ‘someone who twitches’ (not that helpful I would have thought if you went to the dictionary to find out what the word ‘twitch’ meant!) I didn’t really understand why that moniker was used for bird-watchers until I became one and started to ‘twitch’ my head in the general direction of any movement in a bush or shrub that might turn out to be a species of bird that I havent seen before. Hence the Oxford Dictionary’s second definition: ‘British informal: a birdwatcher whose main aim is to collect sightings of rare birds.’ That’s me.
Of course, becoming a bird watcher is a relatively simple thing as there are birds around us all the time. Most are very common and not particularly exciting to view such as Indian Miners or pigeons. But others are so glorious that I want to tell everyone I meet after I’ve had such an encounter about what they missed by not being with me at the time. This does not normally have the expected effect. In fact, mostly once people realise that the ‘rare sighting’ I am describing does not involve the latest celebrity or at the very least some random footballer, their eyes glaze over and they mutter the words ‘twitcher’ (or at least I think that’s what they’re say, it could of course be ‘twit’. but I choose the former).
Australian birds are fascinating. I particularly like the raucous calls of wattlebirds outside my window in the morning. Add to that they are aeronautical wonders able to catch their prey (moths, flies, butterflies) on the wing with some amazing manuevers. I have two regular visitors to my garden. A red wattlebird (red wattles under his chin and a yellowish lower breast) and a little wattlebird and sometimes they’re out there at the same time.
Magpies warbling are a joy to listen to. I really wonder what they are saying to each other.
Honeyeaters of all kinds enthrall me and seeing a spinebill honeyeater or a new holland honeyeater, makes my day.
Red Wattlebird FeedingOf course, becoming a bird watcher inevitably turns you into something else. An amateur photographer. Because no-one believes you’ve seen your wonder unless you can show them a picture. Sad but true. The wild albino fairy wren at Werribee Open Range Zoo is like a mystical creamy coloured fairy that NO-ONE but those who have seen it believe in. I have seen it and my blobby, blurred photo proved nothing (the average fairy wren is only about 3″ high and I was photographing it from about 15 metres without a tripod… and with my shaky hands (excitement!) no chance!) So in order to gain greater pleasure from my hobby I must collect proof. Not in the way of actual birds or eggs or even feathers: but photos. So I’m an amateur photographer and birdo. Add that to keeping my blog up to date and having a social life, one wonders when I have time to work….? I’m wondering about that too 🙂 Royal Spoonbill