AskRIGHT is pleased to announce that Jim O’Brien has joined our team of Fundraising Consultants in Sydney. We are excited to welcome Jim and his over 20 years’ experience in healthcare and higher education to the team.
Learn more about Jim in the interview below or read his biography here.
What is your experience in fundraising?
I started as a research associate at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management. Our research mainly dealt with healthcare quality and organisational change. This was a very exciting time in healthcare in the US and I was recruited by Advocate Health Care, one of the nation’s most respected and innovative healthcare providers, to establish their corporate and foundation relations program. This was 20 years ago. I had no prior experience in fundraising and really saw the difference that fundraising could make to organisations, to communities and most importantly to patients and their families. I also appreciated the potential for philanthropy to help foster innovation and shape public policy. I have been working in fundraising since then, for health and higher education organisations both in Australia and the US.
One of my proudest accomplishments was helping to secure the initial funding for Hawaii’s P-20 partnership, a state-wide program involving the University, the Hawaii State Department of Education and a coalition of early child educators which aimed to strengthen that education pipeline for students from pre-school through higher education. This coalition received $10 million for the WK Kellogg Foundation to support its work.
How/Why did you become a fundraising consultant in Sydney?
This is an exciting time to be in fundraising and to become a fundraising consultant in Sydney. Educational institutions have embraced major gift fundraising and the other sectors as well are beginning to appreciate what philanthropy can do for them. It is a time of enormous growth coupled with changes in government policy. Being a fundraising consultant will give me the chance to work with organisations who are keen to attract major philanthropic support and to adopt best practices, build programs and implement the systems needed to manage this transition.
I enjoy working with visionary leaders and helping organisations develop more opportunities for donors who are committed to making a difference with their donations.
What is your approach to fundraising consulting?
I have worked in some very different organisations and quite distinct cities (Chicago, Honolulu, New York, Sydney). This taught me the importance of building on local practices, cultures and traditions. Every organisation has a unique history and different approaches to getting things done. Recognising what works and building from existing strengths and expertise is of paramount importance. Over the years I have come to appreciate the value of listening, exploring options, involving stakeholders and building support for ambitious projects.
What do you bring to AskRIGHT as a fundraising consultant?
First, I bring experience. In my career, I have raised personally and as the head of teams, more than $200 million. I have been a part of several capital campaigns which have raised nearly $3 billion. During that time I have worked with organisations at the beginning of their fundraising journey, having established new fundraising programs, and at large, highly successful fundraising programs. So I know what it takes to succeed in varied and complex environments which is fundamental for a fundraising consultant.
Second I bring unique commitment to understanding and enriching programs and inspiring donors. On the one hand, fundraising appears to be all about ‘the money’. I would say that it is all about passion, building relationships and making a difference. If you have the right programs, inspire your donors, operate with integrity and do the right thing, the money will come.
Third, most people would say that my strengths are related to strategy and communication — shaping and linking fundraising strategies to broader organisational goals, framing and communicating program priorities to diverse constituents, working with leadership to advance their agendas.
What are the most exciting elements of your new role as a fundraising consultant?
I have known AskRIGHT and their work for several years now and have always been impressed by what they achieve. I am happy and honoured to join their team of fundraising consultants. In many respects and at this stage of my career, it offers me a chance to give back more broadly to the profession and to shape the direction of the field itself. Every day I get a chance to speak with and make a difference to people working in healthcare, education, the arts, social services, etc. How great is that!
Jim is based in Sydney. To find out how Jim can help your organisation, contact j.obrien@AskRIGHT.com.
Latest posts by Jim O'Brien (see all)
- Rotary International: Making a Difference Globally - January 23, 2018
- The University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC): Chicago’s Only Public Research University - December 12, 2017
- How, Why and How Much Australians Give to Charity: 3 Important and Surprising Findings - March 21, 2017