03/06/2010 - 00:00

HeartKids builds on relationships

03/06/2010 - 00:00

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REGISTERED charity HeartKids WA was established in 1979 by a group of parents dealing with the day-to-day realities of childhood heart disease.

REGISTERED charity HeartKids WA was established in 1979 by a group of parents dealing with the day-to-day realities of childhood heart disease.

Over three decades, the organisation has grown to a national charity with a presence in every state through a national body, HeartKids Australia.

The not-for-profit group provides a diverse support program to families of children with congenital or acquired heart disease, as well as raising funds to buy vital medical equipment for the Children’s Cardiac Centre.

Funds raised are also used for research into childhood heart disease.

Childhood heart disease is the most common birth abnormality, affecting one in every 100 children and it’s still the greatest killer of young children in Australia. The disease claims more lives than all other childhood diseases combined, and twice that of childhood cancers.

HeartKids WA state manager Belinda Frank said the NFP was partially funded by the WA Department of Health, but most funds were generated through subscriptions, donations, grants, fundraising projects and support from community-minded companies.

She told WA Business News functions such as the annual Heart-2-Heart Ball, held in March, also provided the charity with much-needed funds.

The ball this year raised more than $80,000 through ticket sales and its live auction.

“The annual gala ball is an important event on the HeartKids calendar and among other fundraising events it aims to generate awareness among the WA community and attract much-needed sponsorship to aid in research and improving our support programs,” Mrs Frank said.

Another event, Cuppa for HeartKids, encourages workplaces, mothers’ groups, school groups and families to raise money for HeartKids WA by hosting a morning tea in August and September, similar to the Cancer Council’s Biggest Morning Tea.

The Cuppa for HeartKids aims to treble its 2009 fund raising efforts to $300,000 this year, Mrs Frank said.

She said that, like any not-for-profit charity, HeartKids relied on long-lasting sponsorship relationships and ongoing financial support to sustain its activities.

Mrs Frank said these relationships were important because of the costs associated with supporting families through the struggles of heart disease.

“It costs about $3,000 a year for a HeartKids family to have access to all of our facilities and support services, and we support more than 500 families,” she said.

The Mortgage Gallery is the NFP’s major sponsor, contributing funds through financial contributions, ball sponsorship, its annual fundraising event The Big Race, and a workplace-giving scheme.

“The Mortgage Gallery support is invaluable and IKEA is also a key sponsor through similar schemes,” Mrs Frank said.

HeartKids Australia’s chief executive officer Neil McWhannell said during the past few years the organisation placed a lot of emphasis into building its profile and generating greater awareness in the WA community.

“We’ve worked hard to stand out from the crowd as there are plenty of other organisations vying for the same community support,” he said.

“We are working on ways to improve our communications and to develop HeartKids Australia as a true national entity, building on national strengths.”

This includes a revised website with increased functionality, new marketing materials as well as building relationships with national sponsors.

HeartKids Australia is currently developing a white paper on the clinical and community needs of childhood heart disease to present to the federal government later this year.

HeartKids WA is coordinated by a volunteer board of directors and administered by three staff members, including Mrs Frank.

The board includes parents of children with heart disease and community minded individuals.

 

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