Gary Nugent FCPA's breadth of philanthropy knows no bounds, selflessing dedicating his time to the charitable endeavours of football champions and Nobel Prize winners alike.
By Sonakshi Babbar
In his first meeting with AFL legend Neale Daniher and Dr Ian Davis of FightMND
, Gary Nugent FCPA was really impressed.
“We had an hour-long conversation that covered a broad range of issues, and it was just very hard not to be swayed by the drive and ambition that they have for FightMND,” Nugent recalls. “It was inspirational to witness the pure academic genius of Dr Davis.”
FightMND was founded in 2014 by Davis, Daniher and Pat Cunningham with the purpose of finding effective treatments and, ultimately, a cure for motor neurone disease (MND).
When volunteering, find your personal motivation
While the impetus for volunteering came through an old colleague who asked Nugent to come on board, it was driven by a personal reason.
“During our meeting Neale asked me, ‘Why FightMND?’. On a personal level, I joined the FightMND army because my brother was struggling with brain cancer – an area of research and funding that had the support of many people already,” says Nugent, who is the managing partner of Melbourne-based accounting firm DFK Nugents.
Nugent explained he didn’t want to donate money and sit on the sidelines. He wanted to use his skills and be an active change maker.
Find a finance-related volunteer role
“Many people start out with philanthropy with an initial goal to ‘make a difference’ but it soon peters out as it gets quite demanding,” he says. “If you dig deeper and find a personal motivation for volunteering, then it is more rewarding and long-term.”
Nugent’s passion for the cause is visible as he talks about their fundraising campaign, Daniher’s Drive.
“It’s a fun thing to be involved with – I haven’t been a part of the drive yet but I attended the gala at the end of the drive once, and I was in awe at how many people were fundraising at the grassroots level.”
Do it for the team
In his role as treasurer, Nugent helps FightMND’s board with financial management and reporting.
“I help the board by helping manage and prioritise how the funds raised are spent and help co-ordinate the many demands from a financial point of view,” he says. “My team at DFK assists with payroll, budgets, business activity statements and year-end reporting.”
He involves his team at DFK in philanthropic work because it builds corporate wellbeing and team morale.
“Getting involved with a not-for-profit provides an intangible reward that can’t be underestimated – people need that to make sense of the day-to-day craziness,” he says. “Clients also want to see that you are not just banging out the numbers but also using your skills in laudable pursuits.”
“During our meeting Neale asked me, ‘Why FightMND?’”
DFK Nugents provided pro bono accounting support to the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), the winners of 2017 Nobel Prize for Peace.
“Our team actually saw a real Nobel Prize – who can boast of that?” he says. “This only shows how we get significantly more out of philanthropic work than we put in.”
Philanthropy is a way of life
Nugent is also actively involved with Club 20 of the Les Twentyman Foundation that provides support for homeless youth. Plus, he has spent the last 25 years as the executive and treasurer of the Melbourne Business Awards.
He strongly believes that working for a business and a not-for-profit are all part of one big picture and calls upon his professional peers to contribute towards social change.
“It’s important to use our professional skills for the betterment of society. Working with a not-for-profit is fun and exciting. You also get a unique opportunity to sit at a table with people you would otherwise never get to meet,” he says.
“If you go into volunteering with the right mindset of what you can contribute to an organisation, you can get a lot of value out of it.”
FightMND is Australia’s largest not-for-profit organisation committed to building awareness of motor neurone disease (MND) and funding research to find effective treatments and, ultimately, a cure.
Every year Neale Daniher, his brothers and sisters and the FightMND army come together for an annual four-day-road-on-road extravaganza - Daniher's Drive, featuring 300+ cars rallying across Victoria, NSW and, in 2018, South Australia.
The drive raises awareness and funds for MND research. FightMND’s other popular fundraisers are the Big Freeze at the G, and SmashMND. Money raised is being directed into Australian-based MND research and clinical trials by some of the country's brightest medical minds.
Paul Brock's passion for education proves essential in battling motor neurone disease