2017 HCA Nonprofit Fellows Announced

2017 Non-profit Fellowship Awards event with guest speaker, Alan Schwartz AM

By Lisa George (MPP, 2006)

The Non-profit Fellowship Awards event is an annual highlight in HCA’s calendar.  This year, Club members and guests gathered at Macquarie Group’s global headquarters in Sydney for the luncheon to meet the 2017 recipients and hear from distinguished guest speaker, Mr. Alan Schwartz AM, Chair of Philanthropy Australia.

The Non-Profit Fellowships of A$12,500 each have been generously supported by Bill and Lea Ferris since their inception in 2001. The fellowships enable two outstanding Australian non-profit CEOs to attend the renowned Harvard Business School course titled “Strategic Perspectives in Non-Profit Management” (SPNM) which is held each year in July. The 2017 panel was chaired by Lisa George (former HCA Co-President), and included Club members Patrick Regan (former HCA President), Ben Sebel, Anita Kumar (2012 Non-profit Fellow), and Tony Massaro.

Mr. Ted Blamey, HCA Councillor & past Chairman of these Fellowships (2001-2015), had the honour of presenting the Awards.  The recipients were Jane Hutchinson, Chief Executive Officer of Tasmanian Land Conservancy, and John Hutcheson AM, Chief Executive Officer of Legacy NSW Associated Clubs.

The Tasmanian Land Conservancy raises funds from the public to protect irreplaceable sites, endangered species’ habitats, and rare ecosystems by buying and managing private land.  At Harvard, Jane hopes to develop the capacity to steer the organisation towards developing future capital (financial and intellectual) and exploring new opportunities for the organisation to achieve conservation well into the next century.

The mission of Legacy is to ‘strive to ensure social justice for the dependents of incapacitated and faller military personnel.’  Legacy provides the necessary assistance to families, reducing some of the financial and other burdens, thereby assisting with the veteran’s recovery.  The challenge John will take to Harvard is to build an organisation capable of collaboration across the sector to share resources and knowledge. 

In presenting the Awards, Mr. Blamey reflected on why these Fellowships have been so successful for 17 years: the ongoing success of past Fellows, providing much-needed investment into the non-profit sector and the esteemed history and brand of Harvard University.  Speaking of previous fellows, Ted remarked, “They have been prominent contributors while at Harvard, impressing the course leaders and their peers alike. Then, back home in their organisations, they have tackled important issues, met difficult challenges and led from the front. All have improved our communities, some powerfully.” 

This made for an inspiring send-off for our 2017 recipients and set the stage for the Non-profit Leadership Address by Alan Schwartz AM.

In his opening remarks, Mr. Schwartz foreshadowed a provocative speech, entitled ‘What’s wrong with profit?’, and the audience was not disappointed! In his speech, he described a few ‘irritations’ from the many years spent in the business and community sectors.  These include: the ability for businesses to declare profits without any regard to accounting for negative externalities they may cause; non-profit organisations that aren’t efficient or accountable for outcomes; and finally outstanding, efficient, accountable, not for profits, doing amazing important work but unable to scale because they cannot access capital.

He challenged the conventional definition of profit, arguing instead for a ‘common currency’ for both non-profits and for-profits, whereby value added and value destroyed could be measured.  Mr Schwartz passionately went on, “It is this single currency of value creation that would be used to allocate resources in our society rather than the narrower measure of profit.” 

This radical idea prompted many questions and a spirited Q&A session following the speech.  So much so, that the event had to be concluded with many more hands still in the air, the sign of a truly inspiring and thought-provoking address.