09/09/2010 - 00:00

Balloon goes up on asthma plan

09/09/2010 - 00:00

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MOVING from the corporate sector to a role at a not-for-profit organisation may to some signal a downshift in workload, but David Johnson says his new position at Asthma Foundation WA has meant a full diary and a challenging start.

MOVING from the corporate sector to a role at a not-for-profit organisation may to some signal a downshift in workload, but David Johnson says his new position at Asthma Foundation WA has meant a full diary and a challenging start.

Mr Johnson moved into his chief executive role in January after working in the corporate sector with national insurance giant IAG and more recently with Belmont-based ASB Marketing.

He has wasted no time in making changes at the foundation.

“My task has been to turn around the performance of the Asthma Foundation. We needed to look at everything, we have stripped this organisation bare,” Mr Johnson said.

The first week of spring signalled Asthma Foundation WA’s annual profile-building week – National Asthma Week – and with that has come a new website, a new logo, a new strategy in gaining corporate support and the cutting back of fundraising events.

“The foundation over the years has always kept a low profile out of respect for those who have lost loved ones. Asthma has always been perceived, in my opinion, as something that you can just manage yourself, and therefore it is not serious,” Mr Johnson said.

By keeping a low profile, however, the foundation had affected its ability to attract philanthropic and corporate support in a sector where competition for support of that nature is high.

“How do we do it [change the profile]? We have to change the look and feel, we have to change the way the foundation does business,” Mr Johnson said.

The organisation will now work in parallel with businesses to create a membership program to educate larger groups on asthma, instead of solely targeting financial support from the corporate sector.

The corporate membership program is already going to plan, according to Mr Johnson.

During National Asthma Week, held in the first week of September, the foundation gained the support of radio station Nova 93.7 as well as Wesfarmers-owned Evol LNG, and insurance litigation and general commercial law firm Jarman McKenna.

The membership program is one of two major fundraising projects the organisation is focused on, the annual Freeway Bike Hike being the other.

“Rather than do 10 things moderately well, we are going to do two things exceptionally well,” Mr Johnson said.

The foundation will also now have a national presence, with all state asthma foundations aligning under the one logo instead of the traditional operation where each state had an independent organisation.

“We have aligned ourselves with Asthma Australia and every state will be adopting this so we will come as a united group of people to fight this horrible disease.”

By banding together, states will work collaboratively and will allow the foundation to deliver programs across national organisations.

Mr Johnson said the change in logo, with the blue balloon representing the foundation nationally, had helped to cement its brand.

“This is our red nose, our daffodil, our purple bra. Every organisation has their thing, but Asthma had nothing. The balloon reflects our cause. Air is, of course, our primary cause,” he said.

While realistic about the challenges that lie ahead of him in implementing all his plans, Mr Johnson is positive about his role.

“It is going to be a slow burn and a tough ride for the first 12 months but I think this has the potential to be the best job I have ever had,” he said.

 

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