The University of Newcastle, Australia

A masterclass in major gifts

Thursday, 22 March 2018

Described by the Editor as a “Masterclass in major gifts”, Emily Cox, Philanthropic Grants & Research Coordinator from the Office of Alumni and Philanthropy, secured the cover story in the most recent edition of Fundraising & Philanthropy magazine with her piece about the development of the Ma & Morley Scholarship Program.

The bimonthly magazine, whose audience includes non-profit managers and executives working in fundraising, marketing, communications and leadership roles, has a readership of around 10,000 and a website that attracts more than 15,000 views per month.

While the outcome is well known to many, how the scholarship was developed over many months is less known. Emily’s piece provides a ‘behind the scenes’ look at how UON collaborated with Jack Ma and the Morley family to achieve a remarkable outcome for UON and generations of students.

The following is an extract from the magazine…


Ma indicated his intention to support students through scholarships. As a former teacher, he highly values education and has made it the key focus of the Jack Ma Foundation.

Over nearly 18 months, a small team comprising members of UON’s Advancement program, senior leaders across UON, Ma’s special assistant and a representative of the Morley family worked together to create and refine the concept that eventually became the Ma & Morley Scholarship Program.

Together, the team worked through many iterations over time in a truly collaborative process that is reflective of the partnership that has been established between UON, the Jack Ma Foundation and the Morley family.

Ma Morley scholars Impact was very important to Ma. He wanted to recreate the experience that his friendship with the Morley family afforded him, but on a larger scale. Both Ma and the Morley family agreed that this Program should reach beyond financial support to nurture the hearts and minds of students with potential to make a difference in the world.

This idea led to the concept of centering the program around a set of values, and providing a comprehensive enrichment program to scholars, so that the Program would create a vibrant community of like-minded students who would experience a journey of growth and development together. Upon graduating, these students will become part of UON’s alumni network as Ma & Morley Ambassadors.

In the article, Emily shared her ‘Keys to success’ as:

  • Patience Working with such a busy donor meant there were inevitable lags in communication.
  • Flexibility Working across different time zones made for some teleconferences at odd hours!
  • Respect This was a very personal journey for both the donor and the Morley family.
  • Authenticity We are genuinely grateful for this opportunity, and absolutely committed to the Program’s values
  • Collaboration Input from a range of stakeholders strengthened this unique, Australian-first program.
  • Tenacity The initial referral could have been dismissed as too improbable to pursue, but we followed the lead all the way to an incredible outcome for our students.
  • Alignment The correlation between UON’s, Alibaba’s, Morley’s and the Program’s values is strong and true, and the alignment between the Ma & Morley Scholarship Program and UON’s NeW Futures Strategic Plan is clear.

The article was also featured in the online Generosity magazine, which is aimed at philanthropists. You can read it in full here.

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