ENCOURAGING people, businesses and organisations to put their hand in their pocket to support a worthy cause is often a difficult undertaking.
Unless you are Paula Nicholson with the gift of the art of the ask.
Chair of the Ballarat Arts Foundation, Mrs Nicholson has been nominated for inclusion on the Zonta Club 2019 Honour Roll of Ballarat’s Great Women.
Margaret Dobson, arts administrator and performer, proposed Mrs Nicholson for the accolade describing her as a cultural leader, heritage advocate, philanthropist and musician.
Ms Dobson, respects Mrs Nicholson, her work ethic and the way she treats and includes people.
“She works tirelessly to bring people together, she has a huge generous spirit.”
The art of the ask is a long and delicate one that means you need to build real relationships with people.
They need to trust you and know you before they will support a cause, sometimes this can take a few years.
“Paula builds genuine relationships with potential donors, based on her honesty, integrity and the reputation of the organisation as well as her own.”
Mrs Nicholson’s parents, who grew up in Nhill, were heavily involved in the community.
“Her family’s example of – we have enough, we can share, and we can help make somebody else’s life a bit better – is where her generosity stems from.
“The mantra of sharing as a happy thing, is one she follows in her own life, an important trait I think should be celebrated.
Paula is one of those people who has leadership qualities but is so gentle and generous.”
Ballarat’s Mayor Cr Samantha McIntosh, working with Mrs Nicholson fundraising for Her Majesty’s Theatre, believes Mrs Nicholson’s first-hand knowledge of the performing arts space makes a great deal of difference in her role as Chair of the Ballarat Arts Foundation.
“She is well respected because she knows what she is talking about when it comes to performing and visual arts. Her strength as a beautiful communicator, is her natural ability to captures people’s attention and support.”
Having recently been appointed to the board of the Ballarat Mechanics’ Institute, Mrs Nicholson previously served on the board of the Fiona Elsey Cancer Research Centre from 2009 to 2016.
Professor George Kannourakis, honorary research Director at FECRI is very supportive of Mrs Nicholson’s nomination.
“She has certainly earned it for the many things that she has done not just for FECRI but the other local organisations she is involved with.
“Her greatest strength was her contribution in raising awareness of FECRI, fund raising and event organising.”
Mrs Nicholson said she was exceptionally honoured and humbled to be nominated on the Honour Roll.
“My main theme is connecting people, it is my fun thing to do.”
She is happy putting people together and watching the relationship grow.
Having grown up in what she describes as the little country town of Nhill, Mrs Nicholson is motivated by building community – resilient and self-sustaining and inclusive.
“You can’t depend on government money and the forces that be, so you have to group people together, joining you on a certain quest they feel that ownership, it is self-perpetuating which gives a sense of achievement and belonging.”
Mrs Nicholson believes although Ballarat is growing it still has the backbone of a country town.
“A country [town] value is just get on with it – don’t wait for government to offer solutions – just make things happen for yourself.”