There isn’t a fundraising challenge so far that has managed to faze Barbara Ward, MD of the San Foundation. She believes it is because of her ability to connect, foster and nurture relationships
At a recent event to honour San Foundation Managing Director Barbara Ward for her outstanding contribution to the community and health sectors, Hon Pru Goward, the NSW Minister for Women, said, “There are extraordinary challenges in fundraising, And people like Ward see the challenges and refuse to back away.”
Earlier this year, Ward was named the Ku-ring-gai Local woman of the year for 2017. But it is those lines from Pru Goward that exemplify the passion with which Ward has worked over the years.
“I used some unorthodox methods but they worked and before I knew it I had people making pledges, kicking off with a $5 million pledge over four years”
With more than 25 years’ experience and expertise, both hands on and strategic, generating revenue and increasing donor base while expanding national, international and local organisations, Ward has a strong record of significant successes in a range of organisations be it Local and State Government or Not-For-Profits, predominantly in the welfare, health and community services environments.
As a solo fundraiser with the launch of a $20 million capital campaign on her hands, which was decided on just prior to her arrival, plus her other fundraising activities to manage, Ward found her start at the Foundation challenging. But she took the challenge head-on and her first move was to approach high-profile business people Dick Warburton AO LVO and David Murray AO to head the campaign committee.
“I was determined to reach out to every contact, associate, patient and business person living in the area, including corporates, sponsors and local businesses, as part of my strategy to move the campaign forward,” she says, adding that the campaign was launched by former Prime Minister Hon John Howard.
“I used some unorthodox methods but they worked and before I knew it I had people making pledges, kicking off with a $5 million pledge over four years,” she says. Ward raised the funds in three and a half years and not only is the project now complete, Ward’s hard work (the campaign was a first for the Foundation and never before has it been so successful in raising funds) changed its approach to fundraising both at Board level and at Adventist HealthCare.
“I would say it is my ability to connect, foster and nurture relationships that has helped me all these years,” says Ward, who was also nominated for the Telstra Business Women’s Awards three years in a row from 2015. Ward has an infectious smile, warmth and kindness that one can marvel. She is one of the most sought after Senior Executives yet her down to earth persona leaves no one in no doubt that she is an amazing lady.
“Every day I see people visiting hospitals for various illnesses and many of these can be avoided if there was better education, choices and programs in place that people can readily access that would help them manage their health”
Having managed a broad range of areas within the Corporate Services including administration, fundraising, communication and marketing, management, program development and delivery, welfare and community services, Ward has been responsible for managing small to large budgets varying from $1b to currently $5m annually ($20m capital campaign over three years) and investments of $10m, with between five to 80 staff and up to 500 volunteers. In addition she managed medium size staff, partners and volunteers overseas.
Ward has always had a strong commitment to community and is an active member of her Parish St John’s at Gordon where she taught Sunday School, and is a Rotarian amongst many other worthy charities and Not for Profits. With a little smile Ward says, “It is my honour and privilege to serve I think lucky are those who get the opportunity help others.”
She firmly believes in individual freedom, personal initiative and free enterprise. The greatest challenge for all is to fairly encourage individuals to strive to realise their potential in both a personal and community sense, says Ward.
“Every day I see people visiting hospitals for various illnesses and many of these can be avoided if there was better education, choices and programs in place that people can readily access that would help them manage their health,” says Ward, who lives on the on the North Shore but is involved in many charities and sits on a number of Board all over Sydney Metropolitan area, NSW and Nationally. She is the President of SHARE Inc and Lupus Association of NSW and is a passionate advocate for Lupus patients. She has spearheaded a number of projects, raised awareness and funds and funded research. In collaboration with Prof Eric Morand of Monash University held the 12th International Congress on Lupus and Related Diseases held in 26-29 March 2017 at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Center, attended by many of the world’s leading experts in Lupus research and treatment. This delivered a fantastic opportunity to patients, members and supporters.
“I am very proud of this achievement because Lupus is a debilitating illness and little is known about it. It is most under diagnosed and underfunded disease in modern times. I am putting all my efforts in advocating, lobbying and agitating conversation with pharmaceutical companies for new medication so as to give Lupus patients a better life,” said Ward. She is also instrumental in forming World Lupus Federation Committee and cannot wait for this to be part of World Health Organisation.
Ward’s achievements are many from turning around failing charity with economic growth to raising thousand if not millions of dollars for charities. Apart from $20m she raised at San, she has also raised funds for Lupus Association of NSW, SHARE Inc, Lifeline, KYDS, Streetworks, Anglican Retirement Villages, AustCare, Variety the Children’s Charity, Novus Foundation, Nutrition Australia NSW and many other small but worthy charities. She has turned many of these charities into viable and sustainable charities today. These funds have positively impacted on people’s lives. When asked why does she serve so many causes, with a smile she says, “what else would I be doing, I cannot say no when asked to help.”
Ward says she is determined to leave our future generations an improved quality of life. “Passionate about health, environment, economy and essential public services, I think these are all interrelated. There are many challenges when one tries to bring about change but I enjoy serving our community we are blessed to have a dynamic, vibrant and multicultural community,” she says.
“As I grow older I am nostalgic about Fiji. I love India too and it feels like home every time I visit”
Ward now plans to start another capital campaign for Lupus Association of NSW (although perhaps not as big as $20 million!), forge a bequest program for long-term sustainability and implement fun events that donors can participate in.
The journey to now
Ward’s first real job was that of an accounts clerk, from where she moved on to become receptionist and then “all-rounder” at various hotel chains. “During the holidays, my mum (Ama) got me a job at Travelodge in the Accounts Department, and that was how I got myself trained in all aspects of front line services in hotel industry,” says Ward.
Ward’s says her dad is a retired Pastor of Assembly of God church and built a church in Lautoka Fiji with three other pastors, whilst her Ama sold roti and curry to fundraise for the church. She has two other siblings, a brother and sister.
“My dad taught me Christian values, to work hard and share my gifts. Ama would have been very proud, she believed in me and often said, ‘You are a bit on the serious side—you get that from your father’. I’ve changed since then,” Ward laughs, adding. “My mum always wanted me to be a social worker and when I gave up corporate life and joined the charity sector with much less pay she was delighted.”
Ward is proud of her Indian heritage and is part of the Indian and Asian community once again making a positive contribution. She sits on the Australia India Business Council NSW Management Committee and hopes to bring about many positive initiatives. She was born in Fiji and goes back every couple of years. “As I grow older I am nostalgic about Fiji. I love India too and it feels like home every time I visit,” says Ward, adding that her grandparents from both sides arrived in Fiji under the Indenture System and opted to stay in Fiji then go back to India.
Life was difficult for them, says Ward, but they made the most of it. Ward’s mum is one of 13 children and the same from her dad’s side. “When we have family functions, we don’t have to invite non-relatives because our family is so big,” she says with a laugh. “All our relatives are devout Hindus and I recall Nanna praying every morning with the jaal,” says Ward. “I think we have quaint and wonderful ways in which we do things, respect for all above everything, think of others and live a life that is meaningful with a sense of purpose to serve God and others,” she adds.
Although Ward pursued a career in Finance and Auditing, it is working with the charity sector that she loves the most. Because, says Ward, as Pru Goward put it so rightly—it is a sector that is most challenging but also most rewarding. “These have been the best years of by career thus far. I can see, feel and breathe the difference my work makes in the life of an individual or the community as a whole. “I sincerely hope God will continue to bless me so that I continue serve for God’s glory and his good works as the Lord is my strength and redeemer,” says Ward.