Raising It episode 3: University of Sydney - Inspired Campaign

Raising It episode 3: University of Sydney - Inspired Campaign

September 2022


Rosalind Ogilvie, Vice President, Advancement, University of Sydney

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How Sydney University delivered Australia’s first $1 billion campaign.

Episode 3 – University of Sydney – Inspired Campaign

A billion dollars was raised from 64,000 donors over 10 years by University of Sydney and broke Australian records not only in mega gifts but as the first $1 billion comprehensive campaign in Australia. We have seen these gifts announced sporadically in the media – $20M for a Centre in Project Management; $33.7M for research at the Brain and Mind Centre – but never has the story been told in full, from the perspective of a leader who was there from the beginning and is now charged with building a campaign that will exceed it in ambition and impact.

Rossie Ogilvie, Vice President, Advancement at University of Sydney will reflect on the highs and lows of the Inspired Campaign, and share exclusively for our Podcast listeners, the behind-the-scenes story of how USYD secured its largest ever gift in the institutions 170-year history

Melissa's key learnings from the story:

  1. Even the University didn’t know it would be this successful. Hindsight is a marvellous thing, and a successfully executed $1 billion campaign with multiple mega gifts are now part of USYD’s story – but that outcome was not guaranteed. The original target of $600M was met with scepticism when the campaign was first launched but a strategic plan, a donor-centric approach, strong ambitions and a bold, timebound fundraising target focused the university on achieving what no other institution had yet done in Australia.
  2. Delicate balance between structures and systems and agility and responsiveness. On the one hand, consistent and effective systems were necessary in creating a culture of transparency and accountability as hundreds of donor prospects were being moved collectively within the pipeline. Yet, on the other hand, with major and mega gifts, an ability to remain agile and respond to new and often unplanned opportunities and donor interests is essential. Strong leaders need to strike a delicate balance for their teams between systems and structures that create responsibility and agility that allows for gifts once never imagined.
  3. Never forget that behind the numbers are individuals seeking to make a differenceA campaign as big as the Inspired Campaign is made up of thousands of unique donors with their own stories, values, and motivations. Taking the time to build these relationships at multiple levels within the university – from Chancellor and Vice Chancellor to fundraisers, was critical in building donor trust and creating a shared vision for philanthropic impact. The long-lasting benefits of careful donor stewardship are demonstrated by the recent gift from the Susan and Isaac Wakil Foundation, building from an initial gift of $11M to more than $66M in 7 years.