By Chip Henriss
Fundraising is one of the most important functions any not for profit organisation carries out. Share fundraises to support selected high-impact community services programs of UnitingCare and the Uniting Church in Victoria and Tasmania and disaster response programs in Australia and abroad.
This year Gail Thannhauser (pictured) has joined the Share team in the newly created role of director of relationships.
Ms Thannhauser is originally from Connecticut in the United States and has extensive experience in international business on three continents.
“I have an undergraduate degree in marketing management and although my professional background is in international business and strategic planning, Christian faith forms my foundation and the motivation for what I do,” she said.
After travelling and completing her master’s degree she began her career in the Netherlands with AT&T network systems.
“After my time in the Netherlands and that role with AT&T, I ended up getting married and having my first child and decided that being a mum would be my first priority.
“I stayed involved professionally through community work with churches and schools, Christian humanitarian aid and development through volunteer work and board participation,” Ms Thannhauser said.
“I am currently on the board of Presbyterian Ladies College and I was on the board of International Needs, a Christian international aid and development organisation.”
Working with International Needs gave her the opportunity to work in her areas of passion with the poor and marginalised.
“My most recent role as State Manager Vic/Tas for Destiny Rescue, an anti-human trafficking agency focussing on rescuing children from sexual slavery, had a strong fundraising focus.”
Share is unique, in comparison to some other fundraising organisations, in that donors are able to know where their funds go as money is distributed through a grants program.
“The fact that there is a committee that will select what the most effective and efficient programs are helps to ensure that the funds will be used for those most in need.
“There is that additional layer so that donors can know that their finances will be used responsibly, making the greatest impact to helping those who need it most.
“Donors know the funds are going to specific programs that are earmarked as the most efficient and effective programs.
“What is also unique to Share is the solid committed donor base. There are more than 3000 annual regular givers to Share.” A new activity, which will be one of the first that she will oversee, is the youth advocacy program which works with high school students.
The program uses the student-led learning concept to develop and create an opportunity for leadership skills and for students to have an understanding and awareness of the poor and marginalised in society.
“It also provides a vehicle for doing something about it so getting on board and actively being involved in extending a hand or a step up and out for people who are in need.
“The hearts and humility behind the supporters in the Uniting Church has been overwhelming to me.
“What has been most impressive is the benevolent nature of the people that seems to be interwoven into the fibre of their being.
“It’s just part of what they do. They don’t feel that they need to be highlighted for it. They don’t see it as a great achievement, they just see it as something that one does as part of their responsibility and that’s been really humbling for me to see in small and great ways,” Ms Thannhauser said.