Stories in philanthropy

Leading by example: Vedran Drakulic

Gandel Philanthropy CEO, Vedran Drakulic OAM, is gearing up for his fourth Vinnie’s CEO Sleepout next month. Not only is he raising serious money (Drakulic has twice been the event’s leading Victorian fundraiser), he’s also garnering support and admiration from his philanthropic peers.

Nicole Richards, May 2018


“Sleeping out for one night is very much a symbolic gesture,” says Gandel Philanthropy CEO, Vedran Drakulic, of his participation in Vinnies CEO Sleepout.

“This event, and the fundraising, while important, are much more about reaching out to people in the community, such as senior managers and CEOs, who may otherwise possibly never come across a homeless person, or at least never engage with them or hear them speak - and they do have a voice, and a story to tell.”

On Thursday, June 21 Drakulic will spend a cold and uncomfortable night in an underground Melbourne car park on Swanston Street with 166 other CEOs who are raising money to help the St Vincent de Paul Society provide essential services to people experiencing homelessness. Last year the event raised $5.6 million (Drakulic’s contribution was an impressive $58,323).

“Homelessness is an issue that affects many Australians, and evidence shows that it can literally happen to anyone,” Drakulic says.

“It’s a complex social problem and there are no easy solutions, so we all have a role to play in helping people who are affected to recover and get back to living fulfilling lives.”

“I believe that the most important part of this campaign is the stories that we hear on the night, where people from all walks of life share their experiences of either falling through the cracks, or living on the street, and recovering their lives, and how they faced and overcame the challenges they had.”  

Drakulic’s extraordinary fundraising efforts, which amount to more than $130,000 over the last three years, have been helped by the generous support of Gandel Philanthropy Chair, John Gandel AC, who has matched Vedran’s fundraising efforts dollar for dollar. This year Gandel has upped the ante with all funds raised until June 1 being matched 2-for-1.

“I am very fortunate to have that support and the support of numerous people within the philanthropic sector, colleagues from the charitable and not-for-profit sector, friends, colleagues, neighbours, family members, and many others,” Drakulic says. “I would like to take the opportunity to thank all of them for their generosity - they are the real heroes, I just sleep in the open for one night!”

Despite Drakulic’s customary humility, his commitment to the cause has earned him plenty of admiration (and financial support) from his philanthropic peers.  

Philanthropy Australia CEO, Sarah Davies, is one of them.

“Australia’s homelessness epidemic is shameful,” Davies says. “We know what the solutions are. Campaigners, fundraisers and reformers like Vedran are to be celebrated, supported and emulated. If we all did a little bit more, we’d go a long way to solving our collective problems.”

Ben Rodgers, CEO of the Inner North Community Foundation agrees.

“Our community relies on people working towards the greater good,” Rodgers says. “People that sign up, turn up, and roll up their sleeves and make a contribution. I give to Vedran’s efforts in my own small way because it is good to re-affirm what we all know – that much of what is important in life requires having skin in the game.”

Sandra Jacobs, CEO of the Bennelong Foundation says Drakulic’s participation in the CEO Sleepout is a great example of having strong and inspiring people within the sector driving collaboration and relationships.

“One of the most wonderful things about working in the philanthropic sector is the strong collaborative approach and the opportunities to actively engage between trusts and foundations to enhance the impact of our work – after all, we are all deeply passionate about meaningful change for good,” Jacobs says.

“Supporting Vedran provides Bennelong with an opportunity to support a cause outside of major focus area and expand our impact. It’s not often that we have the opportunity to really experience the challenges and needs of the communities we are supporting, and if only for one night, Vedran’s participation demonstrates his commitment not only to talk the talk, but to walk the walk.”


Support Vedran Drakulic’s participation in the 2018 Vinnies CEO Sleepout here.

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