Funding a multi-million dollar community centre in a remote WA town of just 5,000 people (average age 27) may sound daunting, but as Mal Osborne, the recent-past Chief Executive Officer of the Shire of Coolgardie explains, if you ‘own’ the vision you’re half way there.

The dated facilities of the last minerals boom of the 1960’s lay like scattered reminders of a glittering past in the small west Australian mining town of Kambalda. That was back in the early 2000’s.

In 2002 though a new resources-fuelled era of prosperity swept through our gold and nickel region. This time, however, workers were not putting down roots in the community, choosing instead to drive or fly in and out.

In order to encourage workers and families to make their life in the area and to feel at home, the Shire of Coolgardie envisioned a modern community and recreation centre to promote a sense of community, rejuvenate the town, and meet the expectations of modern families.

The challenge, of course, was funding. The total project cost amounted to just over $13.5 million, a large portion of which would be covered by the federal and state governments, a Lotterywest grant, and two large corporates engaged in the region.

A funding shortfall of $3.7 million remained, and the shire decided to implement a capital fundraising campaign to bridge the gap.

Prospecting for Corporates

Xponential Fundraising was engaged to assist with the campaign, and with the mining companies in the region generating record profits, these corporates became natural prospects. It was reasoned that they would have a unique interest in supporting the proposed centre because it would encourage their staff to live in Kambalda, therefore reducing fly in/fly out costs.

Recruiting influential volunteer campaign leaders was seen as a critical issue. While the minerals boom had thrown up a number of significant corporate gift prospects, it also meant there were few leadership candidates with the time to commit to the campaign. Another obstacle was the competitive rivalry between these companies. Who could be chosen as campaign chairman without disengaging the other major corporates?

To overcome these obstacles, the campaign team identified key business leaders who would be invited to become campaign patrons by contributing a leadership gift. As the initial gift would be a benchmark for subsequent gifts, the first step was to identify the prospect most likely to contribute in the strongest way possible.

Time to Ask

After extensive research, it was decided to approach Gold Fields Australia to become the initial corporate donor. An ‘asking team’ made up of senior executives including myself, Gavin Turner (Shire President) and Ian Junk (Director, Lanfranchi Nickel) made the approach.

The response from the company was everything we could have hoped for, with the Goldfields Australia Foundation making a commitment of $1 million!

Vice-President, Head of Operations at Gold Fields Australia, Neville Bergin, said the company wholeheartedly supported the project because it had significant numbers of staff living in Kambalda. “The centre will enhance the quality of life for everyone in Kambalda, and act as a draw card in attracting new staff to join the company,” said Bergin.

With the lead gift secured, six other patrons were soon approached. In the space of just three days these patrons committed to a combined $1.5 million. Each patron was then invited to nominate a top level representative to sit on the campaign’s Corporate Committee, which then approached other industry related prospects for support.

Campaign Patrons

Mr Neville Bergin, Vice President – Head of Operations Australia, Gold Fields Australia Pty Ltd

Mr David Moore, Managing Director, Mincor Resources NL

Mr Chris Bonwick, Managing Director, Independence Group NL

Mr Peter Harold, Managing Director, Lanfranchi Nickel Mine Pty Ltd

Mr Ian Junk, Director, Lanfranchi Nickel Mine Pty Ltd

Mr Leigh Junk, Director, Lanfranchi Nickel Mine Pty Ltd

Mr Mike Foulds, Director, Goldfields Mine Management

Corporate Committee Chairman

Mr Steve Cowle, Chief Operations Officer, Mincor

The Corporate Committee, chaired by Steve Cowle, Chief Operations Officer at Mincor Resources, went on to raise more than $500,000 from 25 additional donors.

As momentum built around the campaign, a sprit of camaraderie was created amongst the patrons who, although direct competitors in the resources industry, were happy to partner on a project that would deliver significant benefits to the area and, ultimately, their bottom line.

David Moore, Managing Director of Mincor Resources, a major nickel player in the area, said it was important for mining companies to support their local communities. “Given the tremendous commitment and drive shown by the Shire of Coolgardie towards its vision of a new community centre for Kambalda, and given our own long-term commitment to the area, we were very happy to provide extensive financial support to the project,” he said.

Owning the Vision Means Owning the Ask

One of the surprising aspects of the fundraising campaign was that I had no reservations about making the asks for this project. I am normally uncomfortable about asking people to buy a raffle ticket, let alone allocate $1 million of their company funds to a project that they do not have any direct control over.

I have often thought about why I was comfortable in making the asks, and quite simply, I think it was because I was so involved and ‘owned’ a big part of the project. If you can see and articulate the vision, it is not that hard to get others to also share the vision.

Campaign Gift Table

Gift Amount $ # of Gifts Total $ % of Target
1,000,000 1 1,000,000 27%
500,000 – 999,999 1 500,000 45%
250,000 – 499,999 3 950,000 45%
100,000 – 249,999 2 200,000 45%
25,000 – 99,999 13 486,853 17%
10,000 – 24,999 11 130,000 17%
1 – 9,999 4 13,500 17%
35 $3,280,353 89%

Breakdown – Total Project Funds

State Government 2,186,500
Federal Government 1,345,455
Lotterywest 700,000
Pre-campaign partnerships 2,000,000
Capital campaign 3,280,353
SUB TOTAL 9,512,308
Shire of Coolgardie 4,043,334

Mal Osborne
was until recently the Chief Executive Officer of the Shire of Coolgardie. He is now the new Chief Executive Officer of the Shire of Esperance.’s 2007 award for Best Major Gifts/Capital Campaign in WA.

The New Heart for a New Kambalda campaign won the Fundraising Institute Australia’s 2007 award for Best Major Gifts/Capital Campaign in WA.

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