Gavan Woinarski

Endowment funds can be an excellent way for charity and nonprofit organisations to attain a level of financial security, independence and sustainability. However they can often be challenging to set up and ‘sell’ to potential donors.   

Gavan Woinarski has established several endowment funds and in his session at Big4 he will outline the benefits, the challenges and how to promote endowment funds effectively to donors. He will provide insights into how to successfully launch an endowment fund with real life examples. 

Ahead of his sessionat Big4 Fundraising, we asked Gavan a few questions. 

Describe your approach to life and work.  

I enjoy every day of my personal and professional life. Smile, listen, follow through and do not procrastinate. 

How did you get into the for-purpose sector?  

I was head hunted to move from a major independent school to the health sector to establish a Foundation from scratch. I accepted the challenge because the CEO understood philanthropy and knew money does not fall out of the sky. He supported me as we grew the endowment fund for this foundation from $1m to $14.6m in eight years. 

Who or what inspires you?  

The power of an agile organisation that understands contemporary philanthropy. I am inspired by enthusing people about the potency of philanthropy and the real difference a culture of philanthropy can make to an organisation. Once the Board and senior executives understand a culture will outlast the results of a golf day, ball or raffle then this organisation has a robust future. 

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

Give up Gavan. You are too different and no one will listen. 

How have you got through the pandemic?  

With some courage, good humour and quality tea. Seriously… it has been good because I am now working with many small rural-based organisations that would not normally have access to someone like me. I am happy to travel down the highway and zoom with clients. Working in the bush is so much fun because there are few politics, people make decisions and they are keen to learn. 

What has been the highlight of your year so far? 

For certain, working with small rural-based organisations. Most have 0.4 EFT to 1.4 EFT staff, few resources and little knowledge. But, boy, do they learn fast and this is personally and professionally gratifying. 

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

I think there are three. First, have a vision. Second, make friends before you ask for money. Third, concentrate on donors not donations. 

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

The importance of endowments that can make organisations sustainable. The difference between fundraising and philanthropy: they are not synonyms. Building a culture for an organisation so that giving is a proud tradition. 

Who is Gavan Woinarski? 

Gavan is the Principal Consultant at GDZW Philanthropy. Gavan began his career in philanthropy and fundraising in 1995 after a distinguished career as a teacher and educational leader in Australia and the United Kingdom. After 11 years in educational fundraising at Melbourne Grammar School and Methodist Ladies’ College he moved to the health sector as Director of the Mercy Health Foundation. Here he established several endowed Chairs and built a corpus of $15m in 8 years. 

Gavan consults to families and individuals encouraging them to realise the potency of endowments and to make gifts that can empower people. When working with organisations’ senior executives and board members he stresses the importance of establishing an enduring culture of philanthropy for the organisation; this will outlast short-term fundraising activities. 

Gavan willingly shares his accumulated wisdom and experience with organisations large and small, in cities and rural centres. 

Find out more about Gavan’s session 

Find out more about Big4 Fundraising from 26-28th October 2021.