Raising It episode 4: Australia’s Marriage Equality Campaign

Raising It episode 4: Australia’s Marriage Equality Campaign

September 2022


Tom Snow, Former Co-Chair, Marriage Equality & Chair, Equality Australia

Subscribe now via your preferred podcast channel

How $10 million was raised to help achieve Marriage Equality.

Episode 4 – Australia’s Marriage Equality Campaign

This week’s episode tells an important and well-known story about a noble ambition of equality and galvanising a social movement for change. It involves many great leaders, campaigners, volunteers, Australian heroes like Magda Subanzi and Ian Thorpe, and hundreds of thousands of individuals across Australia that ultimately voted yes to marriage equality in November 2017.

The episode also tells the lesser-known story about behind-the-scenes philanthropic and fundraising leadership and the role philanthropy played in achieving the YES outcome. Not only was a record-breaking $10M raised in 2 years and a matter of weeks, but the campaign also set a new benchmark in what can be achieved by bringing together advocacy and philanthropy and has raised the ambitions of other social movements and campaigns across Australia.

I would like to welcome Tom Snow to the podcast – Tom is the former Co-Chair of The Equality Campaign, Chair of Snow Medical and Chair, Equality Australia, which he co-founded with Anna Brown to continue advocating for equality.

Melissa's key learnings from the story:

  1. Courage & commitment. Tom’s evolution from an accidental activist to philanthropic investor and ultimately to co-chief fundraiser was not one he initially set out upon, but because the campaign was so personally important to him and his family, and he had the means to contribute, he courageously stepped into a leadership role that demanded a huge commitment from him. He continued to draw upon courage and commitment to actively champion, advocate and ask and as a result the campaign secured over $10M in investment within 2 years.
  2. Strategic sequencing of philanthropic investment. Tom & Brooke’s investment of $1M from the outset of the Campaign was critical in securing 3 other cornerstone donors – Snow Foundation, Alan Joyce and Paul O’Sullivan. These foundational cornerstone gifts helped to secure institutional investment from the likes of Myer Foundation.. Securing major gifts from individuals and families who shared campaign values was then the third stage, followed by lower level giving and at grassroots level. All contributions were important for the campaign but the strategic sequencing from biggest to smallest was critical in underwriting the campaign and giving others the confidence to invest.
  3. Maintain momentum and confidence. Advocacy campaigns are subject to innumerable variables, many outside the control of a campaign, particularly within a complex and highly charged political environment. The campaign faced a great deal of uncertainty as to when and if marriage equality would be achieved. Maintaining fundraising momentum was critical to the sustainability of the campaign and providing confidence to supporters.