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Sandy Fuller reports on the good, the great, and the downright fabulous of the campaign to raise funds for the new Ronald McDonald House Westmead.

Sandy Fuller reports on the good, the great, and the downright fabulous of the campaign to raise funds for the new Ronald McDonald House Westmead.

Sam and his family found a home away from home at Ronald McDonald House Westmead

Earlier this year, the doors of the new Ronald McDonald House Westmead (RMHW) swung open, welcoming families of sick children receiving treatment at The Children’s Hospital at Westmead in Western Sydney.

Since 1986, RMHW has been a home away from home for nearly 12,000 families. In 2017, the house had just 18 rooms and could not meet demand. While the facility accommodated and supported 698 seriously ill children and their families in 2016, 400 families were turned away due to lack of space. Today there are 60 rooms for families of all sizes.

At the launch of the Building Love campaign on Valentine’s Day in 2015, RMHW had a vacant parcel of land and a great foundation in the form of a pledge of $8 million from Ronald McDonald Charities. With three years and another $20 million needed to complete the project, the fundraisers had their work cut out for them. As it turns out, the funds exceeded the target and were raised in just 20 months.

Here are the highlights of the campaign on the way to beating our target and raising $24.5 million dollars so that no family would ever be turned away from RMHW again.


Throughout the campaign, Xponential’s campaign team worked tirelessly to ensure RMHW had no shortage of wonderful, high-profile, generous and respected people willing to lend a hand on the campaign. Despite having very little spare time in their busy schedules, they all made themselves available.

I always believe that the best campaign advocates for an organisation are those who work and live at supersonic speed. RMHW were able to attract two such people as co-campaign chairs, the first being Ian Hogg, former CEO of FremantleMedia Australia and Asia Pacific. As the campaign progressed, additional leadership support was needed to help widen the networks and opportunities for support. The campaign was extremely fortunate to engage esteemed businessman Anthony Shepherd AO, a former public servant who went on to become the chairman of Transfield, the company responsible for the Sydney Harbour Tunnel and Lane Cove Tunnel, and was chairman of WestConnex motorway, Australia’s biggest transport project. He has sat on numerous boards, and today he is Chair and Trustee of Sydney Cricket and Sports Ground Trust and Chairman of the Greater Western Sydney Giants.

Other advocates came on board including former MP and Western Sydney Director of the Sydney Business Chamber, David Borger, RMHW Vice-Chair and Project Committee Chair, Ray Finn, and Arab Bank MD and CEO Joseph Rizk OAM. What an amazing privilege to have five such gentlemen flying the flag for both an organisation and its fundraising initiative.


For anyone who has children or has seen seriously ill little ones, there isn’t a more heart-wrenching story to tell or picture to paint. Coupled with the work of the staff and volunteers at RMHW (who are miracle workers in their ability to provide a home away from home, a lifeline, comfort and practical support to desperately worried families, and a pure source of joy and fun for the children and siblings), the case for support for the capital campaign for the new RMHW project was highly compelling. The advocates then took that case for support to their networks to elicit assistance. The advocates plus the case for support together created ‘The Fabulous’.

The new Ronald McDonald House Westmead


The fundraising target was exceeded by $4.5 million thanks to the continued cultivation of prospects by RMHW executives, board, and advocates, driven by CEO Belinda Woolford and Campaign Committee Chair, Ray Finn.


Our Campaign Chair facilitated an invaluable and ongoing partnership with Channel Seven, which promised and delivered a Telethon in May 2015 seeking support from the people of NSW. There are no short cuts in big gift fundraising, and a Telethon, which relies on gifts on the day and might appear to be an antidote to face-to-face asking, is not it (only 2% of the total fundraising target came from the Telethon). The inherent value of a Telethon, however, lies in the ability to acknowledge large gifts pledged at that very early stage of the campaign, which in turn encourages others to ‘dig deep’.

Later in the campaign, Channel Seven partnered with the Greater Western Sydney Giants for a Facebook Live- a-thon at one of their home games. Everyone who pledged to donate via SMS went into a draw to win one of three great prizes.

Numerous other corporate and community supporters joined the campaign, donating goods and services from beds to concreting to plumbing. Corporates also came on board to sponsor rooms in the new building.


Our campaign brochure contained the campaign film in the back and the inserts in  the front. This package was considered very innovative and proved to be a magnificent tool for the advocates to use as a talking point and an ice-breaker. The production of the collateral was not as exorbitant as it appeared, but there were some negative comments regarding the wise use of donor dollars.


A successful capital campaign doesn’t just target existing donors – you don’t want to affect operational funding with a diversion of support. A desirable mix is 80:20 where 80% of the total campaign donors are new donors, which may lead to a sustainable source of ongoing income beyond the project’s completion. The RMHW campaign finished with 85% new donors.


The most passionate and genuine support for your organisation will always come from your volunteers, especially board members and other key stakeholders. Generally, a strong campaign would yield approximately 10%

of funds from these committed people. The RMHW board and key stakeholders, including individual McDonald’s franchisees, gave more than 8.5% of the fundraising target. This level of support was higher than expected and extremely generous given that these individuals are involved in numerous fundraising initiatives through the organisation’s national charitable arm and spend considerable time supporting their local communities.


The lack of a comprehensive Campaign Readiness Assessment (CRA) meant that the campaign commenced without the qualification of prospective leadership or early gifts that give a capital campaign a strong head start.


It was a privilege to assist RMHW fully fund the new house and support the families from regional NSW and beyond with sick children when it counts most. I am thankful to the RMHW board and staff for their support and to all the generous people in our community.


Sandy Fuller

Sandy is a Senior Consultant with Xponential Philanthropy and was the Campaign Director of Building Love. A fundraising professional for over 16 years, helping great causes realise their dreams is her motivation to be the best she can be. Sandy strives to bring professionalism, enthusiasm, creativity and expertise to her clients.

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