25/06/2014 - 10:43

Brand-building events the main game

25/06/2014 - 10:43

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Major fundraising events remain the largest source of revenue for many of WA’s charitable organisations.

Brand-building events the main game
ENGAGEMENT: Donna Rendell says events are the best way to build a charity’s brand and engage with the community. Photo: Attila Csaszar

Major fundraising events remain the largest source of revenue for many of WA’s charitable organisations.

Charities are continuing to use events as a significant contributor to their income stream despite research showing more than a third of the funds raised will be spent running the events.

In some cases, as much as 60 per cent of the funds raised are used to fund the event itself (see table).

Business News has analysed the state’s largest charitable organisations, which use fundraising events and donations as a major source of income.

In all, more than $36.4 million was raised through major events in the past year.

The most significant event was Telethon Weekend, which raised $20.7 million in 2013. The proceeds go to the Channel 7 Telethon Trust, which then funds a variety of charitable organisations, including the Telethon Kids Institute.

The second largest event was also one run on behalf of an organisation – the Sunsuper Ride to Conquer Cancer, which raised $5.2 million last year for the Harry Perkins Institute of Medical Research.

The largest charity in Western Australia, The Cancer Council WA, relies on income from its own events to fund services.

In 2013 its two largest events – the Relay for Life and Australia’s Biggest Morning Tea – raised a combined $4 million.

The council gains about 60 per cent of its annual revenue from fundraising events and donations (including bequests), which amounted to $16.5 million last financial year.

It cost the council $5.1 million to run those events and associated donation campaigns.

As a result, about $11.4 million, or 70 per cent, of the total amount raised was recycled into the organisation to support its services.

To put it more simply, 70 cents in every dollar donated to the Cancer Council WA in 2012-13 was used to fund the charity’s cancer support services.

For Variety WA, less than half of the money contributed through fundraising programs during the past financial year went towards helping disadvantaged children.

Meanwhile, the St Vincent de Paul Society of WA operates with a lean budget for fundraising activities, which includes its annual CEO Sleepout.

The organisation relies on fundraising programs for more than a quarter of its income, which was $4.1 million in 2012-13.

It cost St Vincent’s about $873,000 to run those fundraising campaigns during the year, meaning nearly 80 per cent of money raised through fundraising ventures went to the organisation’s delivery of services to help the homeless.

Breast Cancer Care WA relies almost entirely on events for its revenue, which chief executive Donna Rendell told Business News was simply a fact of life for small charities.

“It takes a lot to get a charity off the ground and one of the best ways to do that is through events,” Ms Rendell said.

“There are a lot of flow-on effects from running events and you can’t engage in corporate partnerships and all that sort of thing if you don’t have a brand.”

Breast Cancer Care relied solely on volunteers in its first five years until 2005.

Ms Rendell said that was simply because it took a long time for the charity to build its brand, and sufficient revenue from events to make it sustainable.

Three years ago the organisation started taking a more targeted approach to its event strategy, focusing on two main annual events rather than a handful of smaller ones.

“We did that because we realised that there are a lot of events out there, there is a lot of noise and it gets more and more difficult to get people to come to things,” Ms Rendell said.

“We decided that since we had stabilised and our services were going really strong and our brand was strong … we thought that we had the strength to start (corporate sponsorship) programs.”

The charity now holds two major events each year: the Long Table Lunch, which raised more than $315,000 in April; and Purple Bra Day, which has raised more than $420,000 for the past two years.

Running those events and building fundraising programs accounts for 40 per cent of Breast Cancer Care’s expenditure, which results in 64 cents in every dollar contributed (either through donations or event ticket sales) funding the provision of services to clients.

Ms Rendell said the organisation was constantly considering how it could increase revenue, but charging for services or applying for government grants weren’t among the options being considered.

Instead, its future strategy is to continue running events – with the majority of the necessary requirements provided through in-kind support – while building corporate partnerships.

Ms Rendell said it was also important to choose events that didn’t attempt to compete with other major fundraising events, such as the HBF Run for a Reason, which enables participants to fundraise for a charity of their choice.

While the entry fees from the 30,000 participants in this year’s run go straight to funding the cost of the event, any participant can choose to raise additional funds for a charity of their choice.

Breast Cancer Care received $23,000 from this year’s event as a result.

Ms Rendell said such events were great for smaller charities that didn’t have the capacity to run events of their own.

A new event added to the state’s fundraising calendar this year is the inaugural Swan River Run, being held next month; it will operate in much the same way as the HBF run, with participants able to fundraise for charities of their choice.


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