Do you know how each of your donors take their tea? Shelley Mason does. And at Harry Perkins, this knowledge is a team-wide philosophy. 

Understanding, on a deeper level, their donors’ interests, history and connection to the organisation has helped the team at Harry Perkins Institute of Medical Research to create a personalised service for their key major gift supporters.

This truly personalised experience has supercharged their figures: for the month of May 2021, they’ve seen a 329% increase on anticipated/projected major gifts income, and in April 2021 they saw a 440% increase.

Ahead of her session at Big4 Fundraising 2021, we asked Shelly Mason, Key Relationships Manager at Harry Perkins, a few questions.

Describe your approach to life and work.   

I was raised with quite a spiritual outlook on life and the phrase that comes to mind is “Do your best and let [insert God / the Universe] do the rest”. A strong work ethic is something I’ve tried to carry through life but there’s an element of “c’est la vie” … sometimes Plan A doesn’t work out, or Plan B (!) and everything will still be okay. You’ve just gotta roll with it.  

How did you get into the not-for-profit sector?  

I did some media and public relations work experience with World Vision WA when I was completing my Bachelor degree (a very long time ago) and I loved it. I don’t think it was a conscious decision to end up or stay working in the education or not-for-profit sector, it just felt right.   

Who or what inspires you?  

 I’m always inspired by anyone that has found their passion or niche and is fulfilling their full potential. I get excited when I’m collaborating with colleagues who come to the table with a different perspective to me or when they possess talents and abilities that I can only dream of. And they open your eyes to another way of doing business or problem solving. It’s like a masterclass in creativity!  

What’s  the best career advice you’ve ever received?  

I don’t recall who said this to me, or when, but it would be “if you don’t ask, you don’t get”. 

 I guess that can apply to your career as much as it does to major gift fundraising! And I don’t mean that in a self-serving “what’s in it for me?” way but more of a brave, open-minded, generous dialogue that serves your needs and meets the needs of others too. 

How have you got through the pandemic?  

I’ve been very fortunate to report to some outstanding line managers during the pandemic. Heck, why don’t I name them… thank you Fi, thank you Paige. I’ve found that open, honest communication about work/life balance has been key. Some days go smoothly, some don’t. I started the pandemic with a 5 year old, a 3 year old and an 18 month old, so a lot of planning and, to be honest, a lot of ABC Kids/Disney/Netflix! 

What has been the highlight of your year so far? 

Getting my Pfizer jab was pretty exciting.  

What strategy or tactic has really been working for your organisation?     

Our Community Engagement team puts so much thought and effort into making our supporters feel appreciated, thanked, connected and inspired. Donor relations ‘with heart’. It’s an authentic strategy because it comes from the top – our Director and our Chief Advancement Officer.   

What are you hoping audiences will get out of your session at Big4?   

I hope someone watching has an ‘aha’ moment. Whether it’s a new idea or just confirmation that they’re on the right track, I hope my presentation resonates with them. 

Who is Shelley Mason? 

Shelley is the Key Relationships Manager at The Harry Perkins Institute of Medical Research. 

With a background in major gift stewardship, capital campaigns and bequest fundraising, Shelley joined the Perkins in late 2020 after spending almost 10 years at The University of Notre Dame Australia. She is credited with leading Notre Dame’s $3 Million Campaign for The Churack Chair of Chronic Pain Education and Research.  

Shelley thrives on creating personalised engagement strategies for key supporters.  

Find out how to inject personality into your major gifts program and see a cash injection as a result 

Find out more about Big4 Fundraising 2021.

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