He’s fought for human rights and the environment and ridden mechanical bulls. Now The Children’s Hospital at Westmead’s Head of Fundraising, Mark Stewart, is set to ramp up a major restructure. Lise Taylor reports.

 

mark stewartAre you doing what you wanted to do ‘when you grew up’?

I never knew what I wanted to be… I studied science, worked in accounting and then fell into the nonprofit space. But I have always wanted to help people, whether it’s my team, the beneficiaries of our programs, or patients and families at the hospital, so in a way I think I’ve found what I was meant to do. My nonprofit roles have given me the chance to support the fight for human rights and environmental issues, and now I’m helping to further advance medical research and health care. I’m lucky to work so closely with such passionate, intelligent and committed people who are achieving amazing things.

Tell us about your latest campaign.

It feels like we always have several campaigns running at once! Radiothon was our latest. It’s a fundraising activity but also a big PR and entertainment event at the hospital. It brings a carnival to the hospital, which is lots of fun but requires massive logistics – and the hospital must still perform like normal.

The event has been running for about five years now, is growing every year, is an excellent source of new donors and provides a great opportunity to thank and recognise some of these donors. This year we raised over $1.2 million over the day, with patients, families, doctors and donors sharing some amazing stories with the listeners and putting huge smiles on lots of faces.

What are your future goals?

The Children’s Hospital at Westmead has some very big plans for the next few years that will involve increasing our fundraising targets from around the current $30 plus million per annum to over $50 million.

Although we are growing year to year, the changes required are going to call for a significant shift in the team and our major donor focus. Successfully managing this restructure while maintaining the relationships we already have and providing a growth opportunity for key staff will be an exciting challenge.

Apart from the major donor area, we are currently building our digital assets and this is set to become a far more active component of most campaigns in the very near future.
I know The Children’s Hospital is way behind in this area, but persistence is paying off and we are getting the changes we need to better give our donors the support they need.

What is the funniest thing that’s ever happened to you?

Apart from many misadventures while travelling to foreign countries for Greenpeace or Save the Children, the funniest thing would be my repeated attempts on the mechanical bull at the International Fundraising Congress one year: those bruises lasted weeks!

Tell us something unexpected about yourself.

I trained as a marine scientist, and I’m still an environmentalist at heart.

 

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