As Steve Gatt steps down from official board duties, the Foundation extends our deep gratitude for his tireless service to our organisation and homeless youth.
Steve Gatt has taken on many roles in support of the Property Industry Foundation since he first joined our family in 2011. Before stepping as Acting CEO during Kate Mills 2023 sabbatical, he was a corporate donor, cycling event committee chair, member and chair of NSW Advisory Board and National Board member. While Steve has decided to step down from his formal roles at the Foundation, he promises we will see him cycling at a Tour de PIF down the track.
Reflecting on your board tenure - what have been some of the highlights?
The greatest highlight has been working with some great industry leaders on all aspects of the Foundation’s activities. The two chairmen that steered the Foundation during my tenure were Bob Johnston and Penny Ransom. Both brought so much of themselves to the table and my learnings from them have been invaluable. They encourage board members’ contributions, respect differing views and have mastered the art of coalescing views to set a clear path forward.
But there were so many other luminaries that have made my time on the National Board an enjoyable learning experience – John Kenny, Daryl Browning, Virginia Briggs, Peter Inge, to name a few. I also had the opportunity to work alongside many great people on the NSW Advisory Board whose contribution and friendship I have and continue to enjoy: Richard Stacker, Chris Davis, Natalie Devlin, and Campbell Hanan.
I cannot talk about the Foundation without acknowledging the incredible contribution of Rosemary Smithson and her partner Stephen DeLapp. They were trojans in building the “foundations of our Foundation” and gave themselves to the cause entirely.
What events or challenges did you deal with during your time?
The two big events the board dealt with in my time were our charity status and Covid. Under Bob Johnston, we transitioned the status of the Foundation from a DGR 2 charity to a DGR 1 charity. This designation recognised that the Foundation is a front-line service provider, which appeals to a wider range of donors. Many family foundations are only able to contribute to DGR 1’s and so this change has established a platform for the Foundation to accept donations from high-net-worth families, significantly broadening our fundraising base.
Covid brought its own set of challenges in continuing to run the Foundation’s operations at a time when our donors were going through considerable pain, all the while recognising that homeless youth still had their challenges.
How have you seen the Foundation change since your early days on the board?
When I first started on the National Board, the Foundation had three divisions in Victoria, NSW and Queensland – each operated almost independently of each other with little leverage, cohesion and learnings from each other. Over time, the National Board has developed an appropriate governance framework to bring the three States together to operate as one but providing flexibility for each state to innovate and tailor its events and activities to suit the needs of their stakeholders. This autonomy has enabled each state to create something special to develop their own personality, reflecting the nuances of their local cultures. This has also fostered a healthy competitive environment for each division for fundraising and providing beds for homeless youth.
What did you learn in the role of Acting CEO?
The opportunity to be Acting CEO allowed me to add another dimension to my involvement with the Foundation. It was a very rewarding and enjoyable role. I learned about how challenging it is for the small team of staff at the Foundation to get across so many workstreams. One minute the focus is on fundraising, the next is planning and executing massive events, then its project managing large teams of Foundation members to deliver homes for homeless youth for our beneficiaries … the variety of tasks is enormous and the team brings a kinetic energy to the task. I am thankful that the opportunity arose and appreciated the Board’s support for me doing the role and thank Kate for her guidance along the way.
What are some of your proudest achievements?
I feel my greatest contribution was conceiving the Foundation’s cycling fundraising event. This event has been going for 15 years and has evolved to include a walk and running component to enhance its appeal to non-cyclists.
I don’t know how much has been raised from the event but it would be many millions.
I have to thank The GPT Group for their incredible financial sponsorship and manpower to make this a special event in the Foundation calendar for so many years.
What do you think is so vital about the work the Foundation does?
I’ve always felt that the best business models are those where the right person does the job that suits their skills. The expertise of the property and construction industry is conceiving, planning and building structures, so what better way is there for the industry to leverage its know-how than to create homes for homeless youth?
Rather than each individual industry participant having to independently create projects and initiatives to make the world a better place, the Foundation can coalesce all industry participant’s philanthropic endeavours to collectively deliver more meaningful outcomes.
How do you hope the Foundation will grow and meet the challenges of youth homelessness?
The Foundation currently has about 150 donors but given the size and number of participants in the property and construction sector, there is scope for that number of donors to balloon. I hope those new donors that join us on the journey of alleviating homeless youth come to the table with an attitude of “what they can do for the Foundation” rather than “what the Foundation can do for them”. This philosophical difference is immense. We need donors who will bring their whole self to the cause by motivating their employees to participate in events and develop innovative ways to help the Foundation achieve its goals.
What's next for you personally and professionally?
I’m in the process of a couple of development projects and commencing a significant house renovation that will take all my energy and skills over the next 12 months but I have always maintained an open stance to new opportunities.
I can’t imagine curtailing my involvement with the Foundation – it’s a great family to be a part of and I look forward to contributing where I can. As cycling is a passion of mine, you will see me involved in the Tour de PIF … but maybe not on the longer distances I use to ride!