Episode 6

Ryan Stokes, Dame Nellie Melba and Patrick White’s reading glasses: the story of the National Library of Australia’s Treasured Voices campaign ambitions for $30 million.


Dr Marie-Louise Ayres, Director-General, National Library of Australia

Committed to making the National Library of Australia’s (NLA) most impactful and unique cultural heritage truly accessible to all Australians, this is a humble story of extraordinary passion to unlock the treasured voices of its collection through digitation. This story has yet to have its final chapter written.

Melissa's key learnings from the story:

  1. The role of leadership is critical in mega gifts and delivery campaigns.  Leadership at NLA was not only demonstrated in the $1M gifts that were made, contributed to campaign targets – but by reinforcing the importance of philanthropy as a strategic priority for the organisation at Board level down.  This leadership and these gifts gave the organisation confidence that this was possible.  This builds momentum internally and externally with donors.

  2. Board members are critical advocates and ambassadors, opening doors an organisation may otherwise not be able to access.  NLA did not know Wakils but through a Board member, and they were able to build a trusted relationship that resulted in a significant gift for NLA.

  3. To be successful, leadership must invest time in fundraising. Marie-Louise spoke about dedicating 20% of her time to fundraising – and she enjoys it!

Recommendations to apply in your own organisation:

  1. Board giving is important in achieving targets, reinforcing organisational priorities and building momentum.

  2. Board members can play critical roles in opening doors and building trust.

  3. Invest time in making philanthropy and fundraising a priority, and enjoy doing it!

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