Rebecca Hazell is laying a foundation for a best practice development approach at the University of Newcastle, Liz Henderson learns.

Rebecca HazellA young Rebecca Hazell had five dream jobs in mind – among them, journalist and musician. But she says: “I must have had fundraising in my veins.”

In Year 11 in Sydney’s western outskirts, and already a veteran of MS Readathons and Jump Rope for Heart, “I had an opportunity to go to a drama camp and at that time, affording to go was a challenge for my family,” she remembers. “I approached a family member who owned a business and pitched a sponsorship arrangement, with clear features and benefits, including offering to write a report on the difference the sponsorship had made to me.”

Following a Bachelor of Arts, majoring in communication and psychology, Hazell became cultural development officer for Campbelltown City Council in 1997, and discovered “I enjoyed knowing I played a part in facilitating the funding, way more than actually running the program.”

Joining The Children’s Hospital at Westmead, she became a fundraiser, gaining valuable technical and leadership skills. This prepared her to set up the development office at her alma mater, the University of Western Sydney, from 2002 to 2006. Her next move was to the Queensland University of Technology where, as fundraising manager, she led new initiatives including facilitating a number of significant major gifts.

In 2010 she opened the consultancy, Giving Capacity, and assisted with Hear and Say’s major gifts/capital appeal that so far has raised over $11.6 million.  

“Rebecca completely understands donor-centredness and donor loyalty – she makes sure an organisation looks after its current supporters,” says Dr Wendy Scaife, Acting Director at QUT’s Australian Centre for Philanthropy and Nonprofit Studies (ACPNS), adding that as a consultant, Hazell was instrumental in taking the story and achievements of the ACPNS to stakeholders.

“She’s a very dynamic person and she has a natural ability to engage people at every level, to make her vision a reality,” adds Lee Shearer, Conjoint Professor of Practice in the University of Newcastle’s faculty of business and law and Chair of the UON’s Foundation Advisory Board, who first met Hazell in 2013 interviewing her for her current role at the university as director of development.

CFRE-accredited Hazell has led her team to do what is much harder and more crucial than leveraging quick wins. Today the university has the foundation of a best-practice development approach, dealing with alumni and philanthropy under one banner instead of as separate areas. “We now have an online giving facility that provides choice for donors and you can give in two clicks – a big step forward for us,” Hazell notes proudly. This tax-time, the Annual Appeal earned twice as much as the 2014 campaign, to support more students in need.

But the biggest step has been to begin instilling a culture of philanthropy. “Major gift activity is increasing and academics across the university now see themselves as playing a role, which is wonderful to be part of,” says Hazell. “They are ringing us and saying, ‘I have this philanthropic opportunity, what do I do?’ ”

Liz Henderson is editor of Fundraising & philanthropy Magazine.

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