What motivates someone to donate $5 million?

If there were a simple answer, fundraisers around the world would be celebrating.

What we do know, is that most often, donors choose causes with which they have a personal connection, that relate to their own life experiences and that help people with whom they feel some affinity.

When UniSA alumnus, investment banker, and Chairman of the Sydney Swans football club, Andrew Pridham decided to give $5 million from the Pridham Foundation to the development of UniSA’s new hall in Hindley Street, he was focused on making a difference to the educational experience of the thousands of students who will enjoy the venue in the future. 

Those who will swim in its pool, compete on its sporting courts, train in its gym and enjoy that very special graduation day in a venue, built for purpose – a space that is architecturally designed to engender pride and celebration.

UniSA will name the building Pridham Hall when it opens in 2018, acknowledging Pridham’s generosity, the largest single private donation in the University’s 25-year history.

At a special event announcing the gift and a complementary $1 million for perpetual scholarships donated by the South Australian Government, Andrew Pridham shared more about his motivation and about the Pridham family, some of the State’s earliest settlers and a family full of enterprising spirit.

Andrew Pridham graduated with a Bachelor of Applied Science in Property Resource Management from the SA Institute of Technology just a few years before it was amalgamated to become part of the new University of South Australia.

Pridham says his degree was 5 to 10 years ahead of any other tertiary courses in real estate in the world at that time.

“Without the education I received at UniSA, it is unlikely that I would have had the career success I have been lucky enough to have,” he says.

And it gave him an edge in the highly competitive investment market and was the fuse to an exciting and highly successful international career in investment banking.

He left South Australia and headed to Sydney almost straight after graduating, leaving behind his large and loving family.  

His career took him to Singapore, London and New York before he returned home, establishing an Australian headquarters in Sydney for the New York investment bank Moelis and Company, where today he is Chief Executive Officer. 

But Pridham believes you should never forget where you came from.

“While I love living in Sydney, I was raised on a diet of Woodies lemonade, Ditters nuts, Haigh’s chocolates, Balfours pies, SANFL footy and ‘exotic’ vacations at Victor Harbor,” he says.

“South Australia is blessed with great educational institutions…they help people to achieve their full potential.”

He says while great universities are created by great people, it is also the infrastructure that 

houses them, that provides the spaces and facilities to achieve the most they can.

“Great buildings and infrastructure play a vital role in lifting the spirit, developing confidence and pride in people and framing attitudes and defining culture,” he says. 

“I like backing a winner…I have no doubt that UniSA, in just its 25th year as a university, will be, in the not too distant future, widely acknowledged not just as one of Australia’s best universities but also one of its most prestigious.

“My family feels extremely fortunate to have the opportunity and capacity to play a small role in delivering the great hall – it will be an inspiring building of undoubted design excellence and innovation.”

And underpinning his generosity is the firm conviction that people who have the means should contribute to society.

“I’ve always believed that it is important for people who have the capacity to contribute to the broader Australian community to do so generously and encourage others to do the same,” Pridham says.