Mercy Hospice, Living its Values and Placing Importance on People

Chatting Fundraising

with Sandy McGregor, Fundraising Team Leader, Mercy Hospice Auckland, MFINZ

"I love my job and find it extremely rewarding. Mercy Hospice is a fantastic organisation that lives its values and places importance on people. I feel privileged to have been given the professional support and development which has allowed me to grow in my role."

Sandy McGregor joined Mercy Hospice ten years ago in administration support. Back then, there was only one person in their fundraising team. After one year in the administration role, when an opportunity came up to be a fundraiser, Sandy says, "I did not hesitate in saying yes!"

Sandy has now worked as the Fundraising Team Leader at Mercy Hospice for five years, and has grown the team to include seven people. The team cover a range of roles that include database administration, corporate and community support, event management and communications.

What is Mercy Hospice's current fundraising income per annum?

Mercy Hospice needs to raise $3m net this year to be able to deliver its services free of charge to the people of Auckland City. The fundraising team are on target to raise $1.8m net. This includes a growth of 44% over the last four years. Our eight retail shops will raise an additional $1.2m.

What are your current fundraising initiatives, what is working best for you?

We always put the needs of Hospice patients and supporters first when we plan, and deliver our fundraising programme. 

It's important to have a diverse fundraising programme which incorporates all fundraising streams

  • We work as a team and make time to communicate our shared goals and key priorities.
  • We develop strategies which focus on achievable returns and keeping expenditure within acceptable limits. I encourage my team to innovate while also mitigating risks.
  • We place great importance on stewarding our donors and building lasting relationships.
  • We continue to evaluate our donor journey strategy making sure that our communications are donor centric.
  • We value our sponsors who are critical to helping us achieve our fundraising goals. We place importance on having relationships with sponsors who believe in our work.

What is your biggest earner in terms of raising funds?

Our two annual events; '10, A Celebration of Tastes' and the 'Heroic Garden Festival' raised a combined income of over $650,000 net. 

'10, A Celebration of Tastes' is a daytime event where guests are treated to a delicious meal, featuring 10 wine-matched entrees from some of Auckland's best restaurants. Over $550,000 net was raised. A staggering 98% more than we expected! This event is now in its 10th year and has gained a reputation which sees tickets sell out a year in advance.

The Heroic Garden Festival gives the public exclusive acccess to some of Auckland's most spectacular gardens, as well as offering the opportunity to chat to the garden owners themselves. This year the Festival celebrates 20 years and was originally a community event run by volunteers. Our team now help to organise and provide fundraising expertise, which has seen the income grow to well over $100,000.

How important to your fundraising are bequests?

Bequests are vital to Mercy Hospice Auckland. We give people two options; supporting operational costs or investing in our Endowment Fund - the Mercy Hospice Auckland Foundation.

The percentages received from bequests vary and the size of bequests can be large or small. To ensure the long-term sustainability of any charity, I think it's very important to steward donors towards considering a bequest. A bequest programme cannot stand alone. It relies on a number of things including having accurate information about your donors, having capacity to build strong relationships with those donors and being able to articulate the long-term vision of your charity.

Our Bequest Programme has been in place for several years and we take advantage of every available opportunity to promote bequest giving. Being a member of 'Include A Charity' has helped us to promote bequest giving to our supporters and comes with many other benefits - and, bonus, we've had some real bequests come about directly as a result of our membership!

What are the unique opportunities and challenges for Hospice fundraising?

Hospice is a well known brand in New Zealand with a trusted and well respected reputation in the community.

Our two biggest challenges include raising awareness about the range of services available to anyone facing a life-limiting illness, as well as dispelling myths that people have about Hospice. The services web provide are specialised and unique, offering patients and families a holistic approach to meet their individual palliative care needs.

Like all charities it is imperative that we keep up with the growing demands on our service and the increasing need to raise more money.

How do you think fundraising has changed over the years? What do you think fundraisers need to focus on for their sustainability into the future?

The charity market has become extremely competitive. I think it's important that fundraisers continue to develop their skills and to keep up to date with emerging trends.

To be sustainable, fundraisers need to be supported, given resources to apply differentstrategies and encouraged to be innovative. It's important for charities to value the extensive knowledge and relationships that fundraisers have built over time.

Social media technology has opened up a whole host of possibilities. The challenge lies in integrating appeals and campaigns across a range of platforms, while still making it easy for donors to give.

To learn more about the good work of Mercy Hospice visit  

Chatting Fundraising with Sandy McGregor, Mercy Hospice



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