Steering not for profits through a pandemic

Jamie Howden (OB 1987), General Manager of Ladder and former CEO of FightMND, is an experienced executive with a demonstrated history of achieving strong outcomes in the delivery of social programs within the Not for Profit, and Government sectors.

Roles have focused on program delivery, program development, organisational governance, stakeholder management, fundraising, community engagement, medical research.

When COVID-19 hit, Jamie, as CEO of FightMND, knew that having a comprehensive plan would be key to raising much-needed funds for the foundation. It was important to keep all his staff up to date with decision-making, easing the nerves and apprehension of what was now an uncertain world that we were all living in.

Significant work went into scenario planning for a range of fundraising and revenue outcomes. Jamie always kept his staff in mind when balancing the different budget scenarios with fundraising outcomes and aligned cost-cutting. Maintaining his existing staffing was always a priority.

It became apparent that the Big Freeze campaign model needed to change, with AFL games and crowds cancelled it was imperative to look for different platforms to sell the iconic Big Freeze beanies.

In turn, a new partnership was formed with Coles and Bunnings to sell the beanies, a hugely successful move, which led to the most successful campaign to date, raising almost $12 million. Also, Jamie oversaw the second largest research grant funding round on record, resulting in $10.6 million being committed to world-leading MND research projects.

This great feat didn’t just happen overnight; Jamie has had 21 years of experience in the not for profit and government sectors. His experience in executive and CEO roles such as CEO at the Cathy Freeman Foundation provided him with the know-how to be able to pivot and adapt in such a changing environment.

Jamie’s background and experience have primarily had a focus on areas such as education, homelessness, drug and alcohol rehabilitation, essential infrastructure, employment, and disengaged youth.  A large percentage of his work has been spent working with indigenous communities in an urban, regional, and remote setting across Australia.

Jamie returned to BGS to update students on the Cathy Freeman Foundation

Jamie’s passion to help others stems back to his time at BGS. He recalls teacher Monty Stephens, who was not only of great influence in the classroom but who also encouraged Jamie to think about the context of happenings outside of the classroom and to be more socially conscious.

With a key interest in the history of Australia and the indigenous culture, Jamie has taken on his next challenge as General Manager for Ladder, the official charity of the AFL Players’ Association

The Ladder programs support disengaged young people (15 – 21 years) to improve in key domains including self-efficacy, community connection, health and wellbeing, independent living skills and education, employment, and training.

Jamie’s role will focus on growing the charity with a particular focus on Government and AFL partnerships. Ladder and Jamie believe that every young person deserves an opportunity to succeed.

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