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An initial $950,000 donation gave a welcome boost to The Shepherd Centre’s campaign to build a new $2.1 million centre at Campbelltown in Sydney’s Western Suburbs.

As Berthe Youakim explains, an initial $950,000 donation gave a welcome boost to The Shepherd Centre’s campaign to build a new $2.1 million centre at Campbelltown in Sydney’s Western Suburbs.


The Shepherd Centre well on its way to fundraising successCurrently only half of the children in New South Wales with hearing loss are accessing critical early intervention programs such as those offered at The Shepherd Centre, so there is a huge demand for more help for these children and their families.

To meet these requirements, we established our five-year Sound Future strategy in December 2015, which was formed through a thorough needs analysis from our clinical perspective and the identification of the best way to support holistically children with hearing loss. Our key questions were: What are the areas of need in New South Wales? and How can we solve the problems these families are facing to ensure the best outcomes for their children?

This process took over one year and included extensive consultations with all staff and stakeholders in the hearing loss industry. The clinical strategy and needs of our families have come first for us and this has helped us to shape our fundraising strategy based on what we have to achieve. We also consulted our key donors along the way and ensured they were engaged. Two forums/consultations were organised with trusts and foundations in Sydney and Melbourne this year to share our overarching plans for Sound Future. Our board, chief executive officer and major stakeholders in the hearing loss industry were invited to talk about the strategy. More of these consultations are planned for 2017.

The Shepherd Centre currently has five centres in the Australian Capital Territory and New South Wales. Now we are at the implementation stage of our Sound Future fundraising plan, and the establishment of a sixth world-leading early intervention centre in Campbelltown, NSW, is the first step towards this strategy, which includes both capital and non-capital components.

Apart from building new centres, the Sound Future plan includes expanding our research program, providing more support in regional and rural areas, developing online learning components and assisting the most vulnerable communities. There are various exciting projects we are currently working on and we are engaging various trusts, foundations and local businesses to do so.

Sargents Charitable Foundation donates $950,000 to The Shepherd Centre

The Campbelltown centre has an overall target of $2.1 million to build and open it and ensure the centre will be accessible to families by 2018. The target includes the purchase of the land, the building of the new centre with an inclusive preschool for children with hearing loss, and the initial operational costs. The campaign was launched in May 2016 with the ‘quiet’ leadership gift phase lasting for four months.

We approached the Sargents Charitable Foundation for the first gift towards the centre – an incredible $950,000. This amount was requested as it covered the cost of the land and we felt there could be a great synergy with Sargents Charitable Foundation as it is located in Western Sydney and has been supporting us for the last five years.

It was quite overwhelming to make a big ask and I was supported all the way by Tatiana Isaacs, The Shepherd Centre’s Fundraising Director. Dr Jim Hungerford, our Chief Executive Officer, was also directly involved and he attended the meeting when we pitched the project to the Foundation in March 2016.

The Foundation has supported The Shepherd Centre since 2011 with a total of $1,248,000 over five separate grants towards the establishment of audio booths at The Shepherd Centre’s Liverpool centre, and will be honoured for its Campbelltown donation with naming rights and formal recognition.

Raising the remaining $1,150,000

As soon as the Sargents’ grant was announced, one of our fabulous supporters, who has chosen to remain anonymous, wanted to get it to $1 million straightaway and donated $50,000. One of our board members also facilitated a grant of $10,000 from QBE Foundation.

So far we have secured $1,010,000 and have a plan in place to raise the remaining $1,090,000 for the centre by August 2017. We have already shortlisted our major donors, trusts, foundations and other prospects that are mostly interested in capital campaigns to target them with specific asks to fund the rooms, play areas and equipment.

A campaign collateral is currently being produced ready for distribution at one-on-one meetings between campaign leaders and prospective donors.

In 2017, we will hold specific events about the Campbelltown capital campaign and we are in the process of organising a campaign committee to manage these. We have also initiated engagement plans for the local government and media, which will help us secure support from local businesses.

This year’s Christmas direct mail appeal is dedicated to the Campbelltown theme and we have a specific high value donor pack with the capital extraordinary asks included. This particular strategy worked really well for us for our previous capital campaign to open a Newtown centre and has allowed us to quickly identify some major donors who were interested but were flying under the radar. In addition, we are finalising the details of a telemarketing campaign that we plan to run next year to attract smaller donors.

Campaign challenges

The challenges we are currently facing as a whole organisation are mainly due to some uncertainties with NDIS impacts on our income – the NDIS income per child is well below cost and transition to the NDIS has been delayed.

In addition, we are experiencing some major increases in administration costs due to the complexities involved in managing NDIS as a disability provider. We need to upgrade our financial software, our database and various projects are currently underway to ensure we are NDIS ready.

Competition for staff in this current environment may have an impact in the future on our staff retention. Knowing this was coming, we started implementing flexible work policies and other measures to enhance staff satisfaction (outside of remuneration).

All of these risks are now directly impacting on our Campbelltown campaign but we are continuing to focus on it even though there are various uncertainties. Our organisation has had a successful track record for more than 40 years and we are confident many people will be excited to help us.

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Berthe Youakim

Berthe is Senior Grants Manager at The Shepherd Centre. She creates meaningful opportunities for trusts and foundations to support children with hearing loss to reach their full potential. She also manages government funding and coordinates tender submissions and acquittals.

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