Canberra Day appeal’s huge success is testament to a generous community

Genevieve Jacobs 12 March 2021
Canberra Day appeal

Hands Across Canberra CEO Peter Gordon, Raw Potential chair Paul Kane, Chappell Foundation CEO Darshak Mehta, HAC chair Di Kargas Bray and Canberra Data Centre CEO Greg Boorer. Photo: Hands Across Canberra.

Hands Across Canberra organisers had been a little uncertain ahead of this year’s Canberra Day appeal. They’d asked locals to give emergency support last year during the height of COVID-19, and were unsure how deep our pockets would still be.

The results of the appeal, run on 9 and 10 March, have astounded them. At the time of writing, the tally had cleared the original target of $500,000 and rocketed to $600,000 by 6:00 pm on Wednesday.

CEO Peter Gordon describes the response as “phenomenal”, with several major corporate and philanthropic contributions, including from property portal Zango, builders Monarch Solutions and the Sydney-based Chappell Foundation, among others. On Tuesday morning, they were among a roomful of charities and donors at the appeal launch.

The Chappell Foundation, formed by the legendary cricketing family, is aligned with longstanding Canberra charity Raw Potential. (Originally Open Family, the charity was, until recently, known as YouthCARE and changed its name to Raw Potential in 2019.) Working with our most alienated and excluded youth, their mission is to offer the at-risk youth of the Canberra region a future.


READ ALSO: Canberra Day asks us to give where we live to our most vulnerable locals


“A couple of dramatic things have happened during this appeal,” Peter Gordon says.

“Raw Potential clearly understood that if they realigned their fundraising and integrated into Hands Across Canberra, they could get multiple value out of that.

“Then the chair of the Chappell Foundation came to the launch and turned their initial $50,000 promise into $100,000 and the Canberra Data Centre took the bait and matched the uplift.”

That wasn’t the only dramatic thing that took place: Peter made a snap decision to shave his own head as the Shave for a Cure team was onstage fundraising for the Leukemia Foundation. Zango CEO Darryn McRae promised $10,000 on the spot and took charge of the clippers himself.

Peter says the initial results made him look a bit like John Howard’s younger brother with a bald stripe down the middle of his head.

Darryn McRae and Peter Gordon

Zango CEO Darryn McRae, midway through shaving Peter Gordon’s head. Photo: Hands Across Canberra.

Thanks to the incredible response, charities are now on steadier ground: many have raised up to 60 per cent more than they had anticipated in the fundraising round and Peter says others who weren’t structurally prepared for the fundraising challenge have been matched with generous Canberra businesses who can help them out.

“Business-to-charity collaboration is an incredibly practical way to set up long-term partnerships which will result in fundraising wins in future years,” Peter says.

Hands Across Canberra is about to launch a new grant round and planning for the $400,000 outlay begins shortly.

“This is now an annual process that we’re embedding into the whole Canberra community,” Peter says. “Through Hands Across Canberra, were encouraging businesses and organisations to partner and then support the fundraising process.

“We’re starting to see the money multiply and it makes the goal of establishing a multi-million-dollar charitable foundation now seem like a very real result in the future.”

Hands Across Canberra participants

MIEACT CEO Heidi Prowse, Francis Owusu from Kulture Break, Zango CEO Darryn McRae and Andrew Rosetta from Elston Financial spoke about the community’s fundraising challenges. Photo: Hands Across Canberra.

Raw Potential’s chair, Paul Kane, says the organisation has established “an enduring and long-term relationship with Hands Across Canberra, based on a common vision for how local charities can help local people”.

“During a year of incredible uncertainty and at a time when some charities were questioning whether they could continue, Hands Across Canberra created certainty for many, including Raw Potential, which enabled us to keep our doors open and continue to help those young people in most need,” Paul said.

To learn more, visit Hands Across Canberra.


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