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Finding a higher purpose, with David Stewart

After 25 years in financial services, David Stewart turned the knowledge he gained in advising private high net worth clients into something both meaningful for the community and for himself. David is now responsible for generating and diversifying income for the Butterfly Foundation, a national charity supporting those who are affected by eating disorders and body image issues.

This year, for the first time, the Telstra Business Awards included a Charity Award, recognising the significant contribution charities make to Australian communities and the economy. Last week, the Butterfly Foundation was the inaugural winner of the NSW award.

I spent time with David recently and asked him a few questions about ‘jumping ship’ – moving from a for profit organisation to one that is for-purpose.

What advice would you give to others considering jumping ship?

Firstly, you need to feel connected to the cause. Having a daughter who has suffered from anxiety, I understood how mental illness can affect a family and loved ones. I realised how vital it was to raise funds to help those who suffer from mental illnesses, such as eating disorders. I passionately believe in the work Butterfly Foundation is doing for the Australian community where over 1million people suffer from an eating disorder.

Secondly, reflect on what you’ve been successful at, and enjoyed.

After I left the financial services sector, I looked back on my career, identifying that my main achievements were in my ability to connect with others, building long term relationships. I had been on the National Board of the ANZ Staff Foundation so being able to help those in the community was also something that I had enjoyed.

What are you loving about Butterfly Foundation?

It’s a well-run organisation with great leaders. The Chair, David Murray and the board are very supportive and passionate about the cause, as is the CEO, Christine Morgan who (like me) originally came from a senior executive commercial role. Ensuring that we can help the families we support and seeing the outcomes of our work is incredibly rewarding. The Government can’t see how big this problem is, but we see it every day, so finding a solution is something I want to contribute to, even though it is a huge challenge.

What have you learnt about fundraising?

Patience! As I have a particular focus on major donors, it takes time to build the relationships that will provide the long term support that Butterfly needs. I’ve also become very aware of the importance of research, both internal research to ensure I deeply understand the work we do and the impact we are having, but also donor research to understand what particular area of our work they may want to support and what they themselves want to achieve from giving to Butterfly.

Butterfly Foundation provides support for Australians who suffer from eating disorders and negative body image issues and their carers. For more information visit www.thebutterflyfoundation.org.au

Rachael McLennan, Co-founder and Director at People for Purpose

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