INSPIRED! $1 billion philanthropic achievement

30 January 2019
The University of Sydney has reached its $1 billion target following an epic philanthropic campaign - the most successful of any university in the nation.

University of Sydney Vice-Chancellor Dr Michael Spence announced the achievement of the philanthropic goal.

The unprecedented funds raised through the INSPIRED campaign have supported and will continue to support important causes, including cancer research, restoring vision for the visually impaired, reviving ancient languages, safeguarding global food security, finding treatments for diabetes and saving endangered species and creating educational opportunities for young Australians from a diversity of backgrounds.

The billion-dollar milestone was described by Dr Spence as the "largest philanthropic campaign in Australian history.”

I would like to take this opportunity to say thank you to all of our donors for their incredible generosity. Your support makes it possible for the University to continue to have a positive impact on society and inspire future generations.
Dr Michael Spence Vice-Chancellor University of Sydney

“The funding from our donors, who come from Australia and all over the world, has demonstrated our community’s unwavering belief in the crucial work the University does in research and education. Their generosity runs contrary to the common perception that Australia lacks a philanthropic culture.”

When the INSPIRED campaign launched in 2008 there was strong scepticism that an Australian organisation could attract this level of philanthropy locally, let alone globally. The campaign has consistently overcome these doubts. The initial goal was $600 million, but after that target was reached early, the University decided to aim higher, ultimately for $1 billion.

“This shift presents opportunities for those with the resources and capabilities to ensure the University of Sydney continues to produce our future leaders, attracting the best researchers, students and academics.”

“It is a truly transformative achievement. It allows us to undertake research and build initiatives that are changing lives and making a difference in our communities and the wider world,” said Dr Spence.

The INSPIRED campaign was motivated by a desire to drive innovation, advance knowledge, pursue discoveries and leave an indelible mark on the wider world - a vision that reflects the mission of the University.

The campaign has already succeeded in providing funds for a range of initiatives, research projects and scholarships. 


Support from more than 64,000 individual donors from across all seven continents (including a gift from a donor in Antarctica), as well as more than 1000 staff donors.

Including: $15 million to establish the landmark Chau Chak Wing Museum; the Charles Perkins Centre, a multidisciplinary research centre committed to improving global health; $35 million to create the purpose-built Susan Wakil Health Building; and significant donor support for the $13 million TAG Family Foundation Grandstand.

Including: the Lambert Initiative, which is investigating the potential of cannabis products to treat conditions such as epilepsy and neurodegenerative diseases; new asthma research that could warn sufferers of flare-ups and help prevent the deaths of more than 400 Australians every year; the à Beckett Fellowship program for researchers working on bowel cancer and bowel health; and research looking at the relationship between obesity and type 2 diabetes, with a view to finding new ways to prevent and treat the disease.

Including: $36,133 in crowdfunding for an expedition that found a disease-free population of Tasmanian devils, which could help save the species from extinction; and a project to restore natural oyster reefs in estuaries in the Sydney area.

Community initiatives including: funding for the Refugee Language Program, which provides free English classes and helps newcomers adjust to Australian life; the Richard Pulley Outreach and Regional Engagement Program, which brings live music and music education to students and communities in rural and remote areas; the Chronic Illness Peer Support program at the Children's Hospital at Westmead, a network run by and for young people living with chronic illness.

Including: the $10.8 million Susan Wakil Scholarship Program, which supports 12 annual nursing scholarships for students from rural and regional areas, from Greater Sydney and those who identify as Indigenous;  the University of Sydney Access Scholarship; the Rotary Indigenous Oral Health Scholarship; and the Charles Perkins Centre Summer Scholarship; the $20 million gift which established the John Grill Centre for Project Leadership, which helps organisations lead projects that positively impact economic value and social well-being. The centre's leadership programs are making a significant improvement to personal and project performance. Many of our donors give with the intention to help disadvantaged students, including students with a disability, students from remote, rural, and regional areas, Indigenous students, and students from low socio-economic backgrounds.

Including: four chairs at the Charles Perkins Centre funded by the $21 million sale of Picasso’s Jeune fille endormie. The most recently appointed of the “Picasso Chairs” is world-leading ageing and diet researcher, Professor Luigi Fontana; a $4 million gift established the Chair in Sustainable Agriculture, a position held by Professor Robert Park whose research team is saving the Australian wheat industry more than $600 million a year; a $2 million gift allowed the establishment of the Petre Chair of Prostate Cancer Research, a position shared between the University and The Garvan Institute of Medical Research.

A range of initiatives highlighting and addressing Indigenous issues, primarily coordinated through the establishment of the University of Sydney’s Poche Centre for Indigenous Health. Established in 2008, the centre addresses the inequities and barriers in access to healthcare for Indigenous Australians. To date, it has supported 442 scholars with a completion rate of 96 percent. It works in partnership with 27 Aboriginal communities in NSW and has delivered 33,390 healthcare services. It has also sent approximately 40,000 oral-health kits to children in remote communities. The Dalang Project has installed filtered water fountains in Aboriginal communities across NSW.

Over the course of this campaign, the generosity of our donors has made University history. In March 2016 the Susan and Isaac Wakil Foundation made a gift of $35 million to support the building of the first stage of the new Camperdown Health Precinct, the Susan Wakil Health Building. It followed the Foundation’s gift in May 2015 of $10.8 million to endow 12 nursing scholarships. Together, these gifts make Isaac and Susan Wakil the most significant benefactors in the University’s history.

The INSPIRED campaign has changed the landscape of philanthropic giving in Australia and is testament to the belief donors have in the University as it strives to achieve and shape a better future.

The University of Sydney will continue its work with generous and visionary people who want to make a difference, to secure additional funding to support the invaluable and crucial projects and research needed to benefit generations to come.

Sally Quinn

Media and PR Adviser (Creative Arts)
  • + 61 438 038 288

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