After six years of Pancake Days, emergency appeals, Lenten and Winter Appeals, grant distributions and other fundraising efforts, David Hickey, the director of SHARE, is moving on.
In his time with SHARE, Mr Hickey has built strong relationships with donors, has developed a strategic approach to the Uniting Church’s fundraising arm and has worked to raise the profile of SHARE in the broader community.
Mr Hickey said trust and accountability are two vital ingredients for a fundraising organisation. The third ingredient is good quality staff.
“SHARE’s name – both in the wider community and in the fundraising community – was not very well known when I came into the role six years ago,” Mr Hickey explained.
“To attract good quality staff was very difficult. We advertised on three occasions and got no one.”
He changed tack, engaging staff with no fundraising experience and training them into the task. SHARE has grown into a strong and committed team of people, working creatively and transparently to serve donors, UnitingCare agencies and other recipients of the donations.
“Over those six years we have raised $24 million. That has supported the Church in a number of different ways, from Cornish College to international appeals to national disaster appeals and then supporting agencies and congregations along the way,” Mr Hickey added.
Rev David Pargeter, executive director of Commission for Mission, in announcing Mr Hickey’s resignation, expressed sadness about his departure.
“David is a truly wonderful human being and one of nature’s gentlemen,” he explained.
On a personal note he added, “We will miss your gentle presence among us but we will also give sincere thanks for having experienced it.”
There have been a number of highlights for Mr Hickey over those six years, but he believes the 2009 bushfire appeal demonstrated the strength of SHARE in its ability to be responsive to a need.
“Assembly arrived on the Monday morning and the president asked if we would be prepared to run a national appeal from here. The agencies were struggling to understand what was required by them. We had to be agile. Phones started ringing straight away. We knew we had a major appeal.”
Mr Hickey has been constantly surprised by the generosity of the Uniting Church members, who he says give not just to Uniting Church entities, but are very strong in the local community, volunteering in opportunity shops, and door knocking for groups like the Salvos and Red Cross.
“A key part of every community is the work that is done in the food area,” he added. “Ballarat for example, is 365 days a year, people have a meal and the volunteers continue to be involved in great food programs.”
When asked whether he speaks to many donors, his face lit up, demonstrating a true fundraiser heart.
“It’s a wonderful experience. In what other profession do you speak to happy people, who are generously supporting those who are less fortunate in the community?
“I am meeting donors all the time who are very passionate about issues and concerns in the community. Donors say ‘please ask. If there is a need in the community that we can actually help with, please ask and we will help with that’.”
Mr Hickey always has his eye on the big picture. What is the strategy for the Church, he asks? How will this or that fit into that? So it was natural to ask him about how important it is to be strategic in fundraising.
“It’s vital,” was the response.
“What we have tried to do very closely is to plan for not only disasters, but to plan ahead. In all kinds of fund raising, you need advanced notice so plans can be in place. It’s a very important thing to have great vision and great leadership towards those future goals.
“One of the shining examples in Victoria would be the work that was done in the redevelopment and renovation of Prahran Mission. It took nearly nine years from concept of the decaying old building to being completely redeveloped and raising the nine million dollars that was raised.
“It needs a long lead time and takes a strong commitment from the board and leadership to make the project possible.”
Mr Hickey said he was called to this job. He is now opening himself up to the next place God is calling him to, to write the next chapter of his life. In the meantime, two sets of parents, and three young adult sons will keep he and his wife occupied. It is unlikely he will remain still for too long.