A quarter century of service

Looking back over the course of her 27-year fundraising career at Victoria University of Wellington, former executive director of the Victoria University Foundation Tricia Walbridge says Boxing Day 2005 was one of her most memorable days on the job.

Tricia Walbridge in front of her name on the Hunter Fellow board

“We’d been set a fundraising challenge by the founding patron of the International Institute of Modern Letters. He would put up $1 million towards the Institute, if we could match that by the end of the year.

“After months of hard work, we were $58,000 short with five days to go until the deadline.

“That was when I got one of those wonderful phone calls out of the blue that you only dream about. It was from an American philanthropist, who’d heard about the challenge and asked how much we still had to raise. When I told him, he barely paused for breath before saying, ‘Count it as done.’

“I subsequently got to know Bob Morey and his wife, Timi, on their visits to New Zealand, and one of the things
I learnt was that they just loved to help close challenge gift appeals.  This underlined for me yet again the importance of really getting to know donors and understanding what it was they wanted to achieve.”

Appointed in 1990, Tricia served the University as one of its most dedicated and successful fundraisers before retiring in 2017. As well as her work with the Institute, Tricia led fundraising efforts for a range of high-profile projects, including the Adam Art Gallery, the First Light Solar Decathlon project, the Weir House extension, and a host of smaller projects and individual scholarships.

Her work for the University was honoured when she was elected a Hunter Fellow by the University Council. The award—one of the highest the Council can bestow—recognises outstanding service to the University. Tricia received the award at a ceremony in June.

“I was overwhelmed when the Chancellor rang to tell me of the Council’s decision. I loved my time at the University and it was a privilege to help bring some great projects to fruition.”