Lessons learned from an Aussie fundraising expert that can catapult your business
by Federico Re
Meeting a businessman with a genuine heart to help others and desire to help children in need is a rare occurrence.
Tim Conolan is more than your ordinary business owner, but also a social entrepreneur, philanthropist, and expert of fundraising whose mission is providing support for sick kids and their families across Australia.
In 2014, Tim was nominated the “Australian of the Year – Local Hero” and the EY 2014 Social Entrepreneur award in the Southern Region. He’s also an Australia Day Ambassador.
Tim’s influential leadership within his own organisation, TLC for Kids, is testament that a thriving and reputable business venture comes from a powerful vision an enduring passion for helping those in need, the opportunity to leverage on strategic partnerships, and the harnessing of the spirit of the community to create a lasting legacy.
Measuring Social Impact
Part of Tim’s success hinges on his broad knowledge of fundraising and solid career within the non-profit sector for over 25 years. In an interview with Tim on InspireTalk Radio, I uncovered the true essence behind his legacy and noble pursuit.
In an opening statement, he said that his success is based on hard work, having respect for people, and doing the things that you enjoy the most. This philosophy is commonly shared amongst many social entrepreneurs around the world, whose drive and passion is actually about the welfare of the community, rather than the interests of its internal stakeholders.
Another well-known social entrepreneur whose cause is to help sick children is TOMS founder – Blake Mycoskie. His core mission is providing shoes and eyewear to sick or injured children in third world countries. Over 60 million pairs of shoes have been distributed since 2006, as well as restoring sight to over 400,000 children since 2011.
Collaboration, New Currency of the 21St Century
Back in 2016, I had an insightful encounter with Brazilian social entrepreneur named Julio de Laffitte, who claimed that the “new currency” of the 21st century is “collaboration.” He said that collaboration is worth more than money, as in an effort to emphasize the critical importance of working in unison with third-party organizations, with a common goal in mind, whether it is about saving the planet from environmental destruction or sending human beings to planet Mars.
In an effort to raise capital through fundraising activities, Tim has been highly instrumental in forming strategic partnerships with high-profile organizations, including IKEA, Kmart, Toll, just to name a few. Over the past 9 years, TLC for Kids has raised close to $14 million dollars in revenue.
“It’s all about working for the same purpose and cause to fix a need, and working side by side in a co-operative environment,” Tim said.
The Immeasurable Value of Integrity
All business owners are well aware that to build a thriving organization, it requires an ‘x’ venture capital, an ‘x’ amount of sales per month, a specific dose of advertising, and other factors that can be measured. However, when it comes down to ‘integrity’, how can this be measured effectively within the role of a business leader?
According to Tim, integrity is the number one ingredient when it comes to influential leadership. “It’s about keeping true to your vision, and not being misled by external factors, distractions, the media, or your skeptics.”
Part of this involves shaping your service model with integrity, aligned with your core organizational values. For Tim and TLC for Kids, this means unrestricted compassion and support, with a service model to match. When they say that ‘a sick child should never have to wait or qualify for the help they and their families need’, they really mean it. It’s about walking the walk.
This philosophy is also shared by influential leader Hillsong Church Founder Brian Houston, whose core values are underpinned by what the Bible has to say about integrity and authenticity shaping your destiny. He said, “Don’t be afraid of vulnerability and transparency. People respond to authenticity.” Brian’s success as a Global Pastor has been hinged around his tenacity, integrity, and care for others, despite the constant adversity he faced over the span of his 40-year career within Christian ministry.
After all, the absolute true test of integrity is about consistency, love and care for others, and long-term perseverance and tolerance during turbulent periods of adversity and failure.
About the Author
Federico Re is an entrepreneurship coach, motivational speaker, journalist, and business writer based in Australia. In 1997, at the age of 22, he started a business with revenue growth of 50 per cent annually, achieving retail sales of more than $10 million per year. He attended the ‘Branson Centre of Entrepreneurship’ in South Africa, and is the founder of a niche coaching practice Creative Entrepreneur based in Melbourne. His bespoke services are tailored for aspiring entrepreneurs, SME business owners, and CEOs.
Images by Federico Re