26/08/2010 - 00:00

Creasey to cheque out at $5m mark

26/08/2010 - 00:00

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SCORING an invitation to frock up for a fundraiser may not be the once-a-year thrill of years past, with a growing number of charity balls on the Western Australian events calendar.

SCORING an invitation to frock up for a fundraiser may not be the once-a-year thrill of years past, with a growing number of charity balls on the Western Australian events calendar.

During the past decade, however, Perth’s Ronald McDonald House Mercedes Benz Ball has proved itself to be among the best and most eagerly anticipated -– it was voted the best ball in the Southern Hemisphere two years ago and is by far WA’s most successful.

The ball raised $700,000 in that year, a substantial increase from the $24,000 raised 10 years ago.

So what took the ball from being a miss-the-mark evening to a world-renowned gala event, now used by many organisations as inspiration for their own fundraising balls?

In 2000, Terry Creasey, a McDonald’s licensee of three years at the time, was asked by the McDonald’s corporation to sit as chairman of the Ronald McDonald House Ball committee and improve the fundraising event.

Mr Creasey was moved during a tour of Ronald McDonald house, where children from Princess Margaret Hospital and their families can recuperate in a positive and nurturing environment, and took to the role with gusto.

“One of the first things I did was I went and got a naming rights sponsor for the ball, so it is actually the Ronald McDonald House Mercedes Benz Ball,” Mr Creasey told WA Business News.

“It slowly but surely grew. From that first year I took over we made $75,000; then each year we grew from there. We went from 75 to 150 to 250 to 275 to 350 to 550 to 700, and last year $730,000.”

Mr Creasey hopes this year’s ball, to be held in November, will lift the fundraising efforts of his decade as chairman to $5 million.

With so much competition from other charity balls, he said it was the way the Ronald McDonald House Ball operated that set it apart.

Most importantly, every auction item is donated to the ball, so the entire earnings from the major auction – the main fundraising compartment of the night contributing $450,000 – goes to Ronald McDonald House.

Mr Creasey said while the McDonald’s corporation carried very little clout with the ball committee, having the powerhouse behind the ball helps to drive the event’s success.

“McDonald’s corporation does distance itself from the charity. They are there to provide the funding and administration. They are the silent driver behind all of this. We get to utilise the power of McDonald’s,” he said.

The ball has a large contingent of corporate guests, with 80 per cent of attendants from the corporate sector.

Mr Creasey said this was a factor that contributed to the ball’s fundraising success, and the committee was always seeking new sponsors and corporate partners, despite a misconception there was no room for additional partners.

“People need to go back to the root cause – raising money for seriously ill children in WA. Although we are a really successful ball, it is all about raising money and whilst we have a lot of corporate sponsors we are always looking for more,” he said.

Mr Creasey has this year brought a couple of star patrons on board – cricket champion Adam Gilchrist and rugby great Nathan Sharpe.

This year also marks Mr Creasey’s final year as chairman, and Ronald McDonald House’s 20th anniversary, with celebrations to be provided by Jimmy Barnes.

Having the ‘working class man’ as the night’s premier entertainer is a testament to the success of the ball, as are ticket sales – the event is already sold out. And despite saying the greatest achievement of the ball has been to lift the standard of balls in Australia, Mr Creasey has a personal drive for his work.

“I have had a great life, anything that you could want to do I have done, but to compensate that, my thing is I work with this charity and give back.”

 

STANDING BY BUSINESS. TRUSTED BY BUSINESS.

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