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Meet the family: Linda Wilson, Grants Manager

Linda is the backbone of the entire organization. As the Grants Manager, she makes sure we have enough money to continue our mission of positively influencing every young New Zealander through creativity. We had a yarn to her about Zeal, funding applications and films – read more below!


How did you first get involved with Zeal?

Linda: Zeal’s Chairman, Bruce Pilbrow, told me Zeal was looking for a Grants Manager. I then met with Brook Turner, the CEO at the time, in a café to discuss the role. I remember being in there for about an hour and a half and he talked and talked and talked – I hardly got a word in edgewise but he sold me the mission.

What does your typical day at Zeal look like?

Linda: Well, I unlock and the door and turn on the lights as I’m usually the first in the office each morning. Applying for grants is very deadline driven – everything has a due date and if you don’t get your proposal in on time then you will miss out. It’s very much about prioritising and then putting together something that is going to sell what we do here at Zeal. There are over 27,000 registered charities in New Zealand and so competition for the charity dollar is extremely high. How am I going to make our application stick out from everyone else’s?

What are some epic moments you’ve had during your time at Zeal so far?

Linda: Watching everyone get behind Zeal and reach our target of $50,000 with Million Dollar Mission. If you don’t know what Million Dollar Mission is – The Trusts in West Auckland have $1 million to give away. You get as many people to vote for you and every vote they cast gets you $5. You can only vote once a day so the more people you get on board voting the quicker you can reach your target before the million dollars run out.

Another epic moment was seeing Zeal Kāpiti open its doors last month. That was a massive fundraising effort with the team raising nearly a $1 million over two years.

What’s some advice you would pass on to someone wanting to get a job in the youth work industry?

Linda: Know your ‘why’. I’m not on the coalface of youth work but from what I’ve observed, if you want to make a difference you need passion, commitment and lots of determination to go after the one.

What are some of the biggest wins you’ve had so far with Zeal?

Linda: A couple spring to mind. One was being selected by Momentum Waikato to be one of their major grant recipients. This was a two stage process. Seventy-four organisations put in an expression of interest of which six were chosen to then apply for a grant. Of those six we were one of three that were successful and we received $350,000 over three years. This has helped get Zeal Hamilton’s Street Youth Work project off the ground and to set up a screen printing social enterprise at Zeal Hamilton.

The other was receiving $367,161 from Lottery Community Facilities last year. This was the final amount we needed to get the Zeal Kapiti build over the line.

What do you do in your spare time?

Linda: I’m a real film buff. As I write this I’m off to the NZ International Film Festival later this morning (it’s a Saturday) and will be seeing four movies back to back. I’m going to a total of 19 movies over 16 days at this year’s festival!

Apart from movies I enjoy venturing with my partner – things we love doing include traveling, camping, kayaking, boogie boarding and cycling New Zealand’s beautiful trails.

What are your hopes for Zeal in 2018?

Linda: After a period of assessing, validating and consolidating what we do, I’m looking forward to the next chapter of Zeal and what the new CEO has to offer as he comes on board.

Read more from Zeal:

“I’m humbled at the opportunity to be part of a legacy of building authentic, meaningful connections with young people through creativity.”

“I’ve shared so many laughs and big smiles with my young people, and have shed tears over them too. And that’s ok. I think that’s where the change happens, when we can just love on a person until they feel at home with us and the space.”