It took a Tibetan monk who she met while travelling in India to inspire Inspired Adventures’ founder and CEO Justine Curtis to find a way to work to assist the fundraising sector.
How did you first get into working with fundraisers?
I decided to take a hiatus from my meaningless job in the corporate sector and went travelling overseas for two years. While in India I became acquainted with an extraordinary Tibetan monk who was an ex prisoner of conscience. When I shared my reticence about returning to the West and losing the connection I had developed in India, his advice was to, “Do good work.” I decided to use my sales and marketing skills to get into fundraising and found work at an agency working across numerous campaigns.
Who shaped your early views on the work you do?
Anita Roddick, founder of The Body Shop, was extremely influential as she founded a ‘business for good’. When I was at school and first heard of Anita, I became immediately interested in the power of campaigning and how she was using her organisation as a vehicle for community trade and sustainability. I was very inspired by the way she had created a company that spoke to her passion to make a difference.
Tell us about your current role.
I am the founder and CEO of Inspired Adventures and Inspired Travel, and I lead the two organisations that together create and manage charity challenges around the world and in Australia.
I have a wonderful team of 20 staff plus external team leaders and doctors, so around 50 of us who are all passionate about the adventures we create, our charity partners and the extraordinary people who undertake these challenges.
I work on the business strategy and business development but my favourite part is developing concepts and creating new bespoke adventures around the world.
What have you learned about yourself since getting involved in this work?
I love my work; it certainly never feels like work and each day we are all so inspired by the people who join our adventures. The stories of individuals overcoming adversity to undertake an adventure for a cause they are passionate about giving back to are incredible.
I feel like the business has given me perspective on life and am aware of how fortunate I am. It is such a privilege to be able to empower people on what are often transformational journeys that run across the best part of a year in preparing for and then taking on the challenge. It’s very hard to complain when you experience so much greatness!
What is the most interesting/successful campaign you have been involve in?
The first year that I managed to secure 50 places for fundraisers in the New York Marathon! I approached five charities to fill 10 places each. We had incredible tangible outcomes and set a target of $10,000 per runner. For example, the 10 runners for Kids Helpline would fund a counsellor on the phones for a whole year. Our five charity partners filled the places very quickly and we coached them to raise more than $500,000. It was such a great result.
What are your key goals for the future?
For Inspired Adventures, the goal is to hit $50 million raised by 2020 and we are on target at almost $30 million now. We have an exciting vision for Inspired Travel too, which feeds into general wellbeing and making the world a better place.
What is the funniest thing that’s ever happened to you during your career?
I have so many funny stories, most of them from the adventures that I led in the early days. Trekking and camping are my favourite adventures and especially in the Indian Himalayas.
In the Himalayas one night I was part of a group of 20 singing and dancing around the campfire. It was our final night and to celebrate, the Indian porters and guides would break out into renditions of Bollywood songs and Indian ragas. We had to respond each time with a song from our home. I knew we had hit rock bottom when the team started singing the Vegemite song, mind you they all joined in too when we did the hokey pokey.
Tell us something unexpected about yourself.
I am absolutely hopeless with directions. I have even been known to use my GPS on school pick-up.
What’s your favourite book?
A travel guide for a new destination that I’m about to head to.
What are your top career tips?
Never give up, do what you are absolutely best at, hire great people and if you are not passionate about it don’t do it. You will succeed if the passion is there. You also need a high level of integrity, transparency and honesty for this is the only way to be.