Media Release - 16 August 2016

World class Arts fundraiser teaches the art of giving

It’s not many charity fundraisers who can claim to have raised over $80m for their good cause. But that’s exactly what the Australian Ballet’s head of fundraising has done.

Kenneth Watkins is the best of the best when it comes to teaching people the art of giving. And Australasia top fundraiser will be in New Zealand giving Kiwi fundraisers plenty of advice on how to tap into peoples’ values and passion to help grow philanthropy in New Zealand.

Watkins’ fundraising on behalf of the Australian Ballet has been phenomenal. Since starting with the company 23 years ago, he has raised $88m in sponsorships, donations and pledged bequests.

Having raised over $9m in just one year including $2m in bequests and $1.8m for the company’s production of The Sleeping Beauty, Watkins says people do want to make a difference. People may have many different reasons for wanting to give to a charitable cause, and it’s fundraisers who help give them the opportunity to connect their innermost aspirations with a philanthropic act.

What’s exciting for New Zealand fundraisers says Sheridan Bruce, acting CEO of the Fundraising Institute of New Zealand, is that fundraisers from all charities can learn from Kenneth and his co-author, university academic Jennifer Radbourne. Radbourne helped establish the Centre of Philanthropy and Non-profit Studies at Queensland University of Technology and developed the Graduate Certificate course in Fundraising.

“This is a unique opportunity for fundraisers to fine tune their understandings and learn from the masters about values driven philanthropy, in a series of breakfast and master classes in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch in early October ” says Ms Bruce. “The fundraising principles Watkins and Radbourne subscribe to are generic for all fundraising, not just the arts; it’s about understanding donors’ emotional drivers to help them make their investment in causes they’re passionate about”.

In an environment where government and grants funding is under pressure, charities need to ensure their funding portfolio is diverse and robust and that they have an action plan to address the required leadership and institutional readiness for sustainability. Watkins and Radbourne will discuss this as well as promoting annual giving as the key philanthropic platform in sustaining charitable organisations. They’ll show fundraisers how they can transform annual giving into strategies for securing major gifts from current donors and from new prospects.

Watkins and Radbourne, will also be promoting their book Philanthropy and the Arts, which documents an emerging model of philanthropy that moves beyond the fundraising process to capture the essence of philanthropy in the intrinsic values held by donors, benefactors and philanthropic leaders. While focusing on The Australian Ballet as a case study, it has application for all charities.

About the presenters

Professor Jennifer Radbourne is an academic whose career has encompassed research and practice in marketing and communication. While in the Business Faculty at Queensland University of Technology, Jennifer helped to establish the Centre of Philanthropy and Non-profit Studies, and developed a Graduate Certificate course in Fundraising. She has published internationally in journals and books on non-profit management and governance, consulted to non-profits in Australia and Asia, held board directorships of non-profits and currently Chairs a school foundation.

Kenneth Watkins is a member of the Executive team at The Australian Ballet and is frequently mentioned as one of the best arts philanthropy managers in the country. He has spent twenty-one years leading fundraising and philanthropy at The Australian Ballet, where he has raised $80 million. During this period he has been invited to mentor other arts organisations in Australia and to attend the elite fundraising program at Harvard University. Kenneth has contributed to many media articles and industry publications.

Book for events with Kenneth and Jennifer Now


Auckland on Tuesday 4 October:

Breakfast Event

Transformational Philanthropy Master Class

Christchurch on Wednesday 5 October:

Breakfast Event

Transformational Philanthropy Master Class

Wellington on Friday 7 October:

Breakfast Event

Transformational Philanthropy Master Class

For information about FINZ and the Philanthropy and the Arts tour in early October,  contact the acting CEO, Sheridan Bruce on 04 499 6223 or email

World class Arts fundraiser teaches the art of giving



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