The heart of Burgmann College is its egalitarian ethos and deep belief in the value every member brings to its community.

This unique not-for-profit residential college, supporting students of the Australian National University (ANU) in Canberra, holds relationship at its core. Yet, it was hesitant to explore amongst its community the potential for philanthropic support.

That was until Principal Sally Renouf went knocking on the door of a local business executive, seeking a bursary to support a deserving student.

“I literally just Googled this person,” Sally says. But it turned out he had a cherished connection to Burgmann through his mother’s decade-long role as a member of the catering team, and was delighted to help. Buoyed by the generosity shown and eager to explore possibilities in Advancement further, Sally contacted Global Philanthropic (GP).

“We recognised we needed advice and guidance,” Sally says.

The GP team’s first step was to create the College’s Case for Support and test this as part of a Market Research and Positioning Study with potential supporters, including alumni, parents and volunteers. This involved not only identifying priority funding needs but capturing Burgmann’s vision, ‘voice’, and the highly compelling story of impacts it makes in the lives of its residents.

“The community provided robust feedback on what resonated and what didn’t, and we learnt what they would support, if we asked them,” Sally says. “It gave us both the confidence and framework we needed to build an Advancement program for sustained long-term engagement.”

In fact, their community said, “Build a bigger Burgmann vision”. So, that’s exactly what Burgmann did, moving more assuredly towards the launch of an inspiring new Master Plan, unveiled in 2021 as part of the College’s 50th anniversary celebrations.

The Market Study served as a catalyst for more purposeful engagement, and the GP team continued to work in a ‘hybrid approach’ with Burgmann, until a Director of Advancement could be appointed, providing counsel and interim management across a range of activities, including major gift fundraising, the College’s first annual appeal, a 50th anniversary alumni engagement strategy, and various stakeholder communications.

Former Deputy Principal Amelia Zaraftis found the process so inspiring, it prompted her career transition into the new Director of Advancement role in May 2021.

“I had such a positive experience reaching out to our community, receiving a phenomenal response, full of amazing stories of connection from people around the world,” Amelia says. “And I learned so much from the work with Global Philanthropic. I began to think that maybe this is the most valuable contribution I can make to Burgmann.”

The GP team continued to provide counsel in residence support to Amelia, so she could hit the ground running—achieving a number of important milestones for the College’s 50th anniversary celebrations. This included successfully reaching the $100,000 annual appeal target to redevelop an undergraduate courtyard and BBQ area, launching an Alumni Awards program, executing the recently celebrated Back-to-Burg Alumni Weekend (19-21 August), with 220 guests, and developing the Gifts in Wills program, supported by two new bequestors.

Along the way, Amelia and Sally also secured major gifts for the refurbishment of resident rooms, launched a First Nations Arts Initiative—receiving donations to acquire four artworks by significant Aboriginal artists, staged their first interstate alumni events in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane, and reconnected with many “lost alumni” and former staff.

The GP Asia Pacific team is enormously proud of what Amelia, Sally and the community at Burgmann have accomplished in such a short space of time.

“We’ve given them the advice and guidance—and they’ve had the courage and boldness to run with it,” says Global Philanthropic Senior Consultant, Chanel Hughes.

“Their success is in large part a reflection of just how beautifully they develop relationships within their community, and the incredible attention and care they give to stewardship.”

Both Amelia and Sally say one of their biggest learnings has been the fact people were “ready and waiting to be engaged”.

“The support is there, if you ask for it,” Amelia says. “It has been really interesting to understand that. We have a great story to tell, and people are curious to hear it and be a part of it.”

To find out more about the many different ways we can support your fundraising and stakeholder engagement programs, contact Global Philanthropic today.