Thriving regional economies don’t happen by accident.

There are a number of different sectors that play vital, often unseen, roles in improving the health, wealth, and happiness of local communities. Whether it be local government, not-for-profit or business, what is consistent is a need for funding for critical community projects.

The charity, or non-profit, sector in New Zealand is becoming increasingly important to the New Zealand economy. Organisations such as sports clubs, schools, charities, and community groups access funding across a broad range of activities – arts, economic development, education, sports, environment and social services – to the tune of $9.4 billion per year. 

In order to do their vital work they always need more money. This is where fundraising comes into play.

Fundraising takes many forms. At one end of the scale you have the familiar sausage sizzle in the supermarket carpark on a Saturday. At the other end it can be big business requiring a specialist skill set, with operators like Jenni Giblin and her professional services consultancy, Giblin Group, who have now helped to raise well over $100m for capital projects across New Zealand.

Jenni’s experience is a quintessentially Hawke’s Bay story. She was engaged by Hastings District Council in 2005 to bring in external funding for the Hawke’s Bay Opera House with then-mayor Lawrence Yule. When she completed the project it occurred to her that other councils might also be looking for external funds. And so Jenni thought she could combine her parliamentary experience, networks and understanding of the machinery of government to help other councils and organisations with their capital projects. And her business grew from there.

Now 90% of their work is based outside of Hawke’s Bay and this leads to a lot of travel, with Jenni typically spending three or four days each week outside the region.

But Jenni is determined to stay in Hawke’s Bay. She and her husband own a sheep and beef farm in Central Hawke’s Bay which has been in his family for over 100 years, so relocating to a bigger city is not an option. Giblin Group are distinctly a regional specialist – they understand the needs of heartland New Zealand better than most in their industry – but her firm’s strong relationships and networks across the country give them plenty of credibility and expertise. 

Enabling more organisations to raise funds so that they can be successful and continue to deliver improved wellbeing in their communities is something Giblin Group strongly believe in. Unfortunately not all of these groups have the time to dedicate to fundraising or the resources to get expert help. Raising money has never been particularly easy, and it is only getting harder, as competition for funding intensifies.

To address this need Giblin Group are developing an online fundraising platform, Funding HQ. Designed to enable small-to-medium-sized organisations to gain access to Giblin Group’s expertise, at a fraction of the cost of a traditional consulting engagement, Funding HQ is due for release in early 2020. 

The platform has an extensive suite of features including coaching, document templates, tips, and tools. Each member organisation will be able to build a compelling pitch with the information that funders look for most, increasing their likelihood of obtaining funding, and to create tailor-made fundraising plans that help them navigate the different types of funding that are available.

More information on Funding HQ can be found here:

For the Giblin Group itself, the Funding HQ project is a logical next step for a business that is becoming increasingly reliant on the internet. Their ability to maintain more regular communication and extend their reach has undoubtedly been assisted by the internet, and they use a wide variety of digital tools to keep in touch with clients. 

However they are now also focused more on leveraging digital marketing to build their profile in the market. Because they have a nationwide focus, digital marketing is a big factor.

Jenni sees the internet as a significant enabler to connect with people and share information more efficiently, although it will never be a total replacement for regular face-to-face meetings for developing and maintaining strong client relationships.

They have also realised that there is no one size fits all when it comes to digital. Different clients and groups prefer to be engaged in different ways, but like other small businesses, they are on a digital journey and they are still learning about how best to reach and engage their community and clients. Social media is key to enabling Giblin Group to staying connected with their community and clients, and LinkedIn and Facebook are their most useful social channels, but Jenni admits her team are still getting their heads around how to use it more effectively.

There is a lot going on for Giblin Group at the moment. Jenni is currently working alongside John Buck and the Cranford Foundation to raise $15m for a new hospice at Chesterhope Station. Palliative care is something that Jenni is very passionate about after losing her mother to cancer six years ago.

Another highlight is working recently with Rt Hon Sir Don McKinnon and the trustees of the New Zealand Memorial Museum on a heritage project in Le Quesnoy, France to commemorate New Zealand First World War soldiers. This is a significant international project and Jenni is proud of her and her team’s involvement.

The ideal future for Jenni? She will still be leading Giblin Group, but with more time to be on the farm with her husband. Additional board appointments are certainly on her radar as giving back and helping others is something she strongly believes in.

For those thinking about starting their own business, Jenni has this advice: “Maintain your networks, value people, act with integrity and don’t be afraid to take risks.” And for people who are thinking of moving to Hawke’s Bay, Jenni’s advice is, “Just do it! There are so many significant benefits and very few downsides.”

Disclosure: Giblin Group is a Mogul client.


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