Helen Macpherson Smith Trust

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Case Study: Stella

ProjectSafeguarding Stella's future

Amount$25,000

Date2021

ProgramArts and Culture

TRUST OBJECTIVES PROJECT OBJECTIVES
Reducing inequality Stella’s vision is of a vibrant and equitable society that values women’s perspectives and cultural contributions
Enabling financial sustainability Enabling Stella to sustainably grow its activities through a new website and improved donor management software
Building organisational capacity Improving system requirements to strengthen the organisation
Collaboration and partnership Leo Burnett Australia, authors, publishers, schools and universities, State Government, philanthropic foundations and private donors

Safeguarding Stella’s future in an uncertain landscape

Since its inception in 2012, Stella has grown to be a vital and important feature of the Australian literary landscape and is much more than just a prize, encompassing professional development for women writers and a schools education program. On the cusp of its tenth year, and poised to introduce an expanded suite of programs in 2022, Stella found itself at a crucial stage of its development, needing to address critical capacity issues with its communications platforms and fundraising infrastructure.

Stella Prize winner Alexis Wright at the 2018 Award Night

Image Stella Prize winner Alexis Wright at the 2018 Award Night. Photo: Connor Tomos O'Brien

Stella began as a grassroots project, delivered by a small group of women from across the literary sector, to champion the work of Australian women writers. The Stella Prize was a strategic intervention in the sector and has been highly successful, redressing women’s under-representation in three key areas: as winners of major prizes; as authors of books reviewed in major newspapers and journals; and as authors of books on school curricula.

In 2020, Stella worked with Social Ventures Australia to undertake a major review of strategic priorities and resourcing, necessary to underpin the organisation’s future success. A revised, sophisticated brand website and donor-focused CRM were identified as required systems improvements to strengthen the organisation and position it to sustainably grow its activities.

Snapshot:

  • With a capacity building grant from HMSTrust, a new website enables Stella to tell a wider story about their campaign for cultural change, better showcase programs, and meaningfully profile the authors they exist to support.
  • A dedicated donor-focused database equips Stella to engage with existing donors, increase the pool of regular givers, and reach new supporters, leading to greater financial sustainability.
  • Leo Burnett Australia was a key partner in the project, providing pro bono marketing support for the website with a new brand and digital strategy to readily engage and grow its audiences.

stella.org.au

“With Stella’s tenth birthday fast approaching, the current social climate is ideal for Stella to go bigger, louder and to push for greater representation and equality. The literary arts are in need of an advocate for change; Stella is that advocate.”- Melinda Geertz, CEO, Leo Burnett Australia