How We Raised It episode 3 : Cate Blanchett, David Gonski, the Packer Family and a Shower Curtain

How We Raised It episode 3 : Cate Blanchett, David Gonski, the Packer Family and a Shower Curtain

November 2021

Patrick McIntyre, former Executive Director, Sydney Theatre Company

How we raised it

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It took both ‘one year and 30’ for Sydney Theatre Company (STC) to achieve Australia’s largest gift for performing arts and one of the world’s most coveted performing arts theatres – and the story involved some of the most celebrated stars of Hollywood, Australian boardrooms and prominent families.

Episode 3: Cate Blanchett, David Gonski, the Packer Family and a Shower Curtain: this is the story of Sydney Theatre Company’s $30 million campaign

Melissa's key learnings from the story:

  1. It took 30 years and 1 to secure $15M gift from Packer family. This is a great story of building relationships that span generations – from Ros Packer to Gretel Packer.  Engaging them in the life of the company – both formally and informally; engaging their skill sets and experience as well as their financial support.  For example, Gretel Packer is currently a member of STC Board and Chair of Foundation.
  2. The role of the Board, specifically the Chair, was critical. Not only with David Gonski involved in gift negotiations with the Packer Family, but STC’s current Chair, Ian Narev who with his family gave a $1M gift to the campaign. Patrick was able to have a delicate but important conversation about the role of the Chair in giving and the impact his giving would have on the campaign.
  3. The pandemic has been devastating for the arts, including STC – very specifically in this instance in terms of rolling out the public stage of their campaign.  The Company moved very quickly not only in shifting the ask, but in how they used their actors – to make calls to donors to say thank you.  This was an authentically STC approach to stewardship that would have been very powerful for many donors.

Recommendations to apply in your own organisation:

  1. A strong relationship between CEO and Chair is essential in leading complex campaigns, high profile, high stakes campaigns, as is the ability to have very open and trusted communication between Chair and CEO.
  2. Highly successful fundraising companies have sophisticated and long-term commitment to philanthropy and its relationships with donors.
  3. Being agile, creative and authentic in running campaigns and engaging with donors is fundamentally important.