15/07/2010 - 00:00

Synergy of like-minded partners

15/07/2010 - 00:00

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As the economy emerges from the financial slow-down, many not for profit organisations are learning that strategic partnerships are the best way to generate a supportive relationship, not only for fundraising but for in-kind support as well.

As the economy emerges from the financial slow-down, many not for profit organisations are learning that strategic partnerships are the best way to generate a supportive relationship, not only for fundraising but for in-kind support as well.

Well known and well loved charity Starlight Children’s Foundation Australia is just one of many organisations offering a support service to a vulnerable group that is in great need – sick children.

Starlight has developed strong partnerships with corporate organisations since its inception in 1988, having never relied upon government grants or funding for any of its core programs – mainly the Starlight Express rooms in seven adolescent hospitals across Australia and the Starlight vans touring in regional areas.

And while Starlight is a national organisation with both national and state partners, the partnerships that are formed are state centric and aim to align each partner with its local community.

“Although Starlight is a national charity we have fundraising teams in every state so we can benefit from some economies of scale as an organisation, but remain in touch with and relevant to the local market,” Starlight’s national head of partnerships Anne Johnston said.

“We recognise that people who care about seriously ill children will want to know that the funds they give help children in their area … it’s very important to have local presence and partnerships in each state.”

Starlight’s Western Australian state partnerships manager Zoe Grose told WA Business News having a base for managing partnerships in each state is part of the success of the foundation’s model.

“Certainly there are lots of partnerships that support us in every state so they can be managed on a national basis but there is always a touch point in every state,” she said.

“You have to know the market and be able to offer those partners benefits, and make sure that it is a true partnership.

“I just don’t believe there is any other way to do it than to be on the ground in that state, and living and breathing the programs and partnerships.”

In that manner, Starlight has been partnering with WA gas and electricity provider Synergy since 2006.

Synergy chief executive Jim Mitchell said the partnership with Starlight has been long standing, thanks to the benefits it has had not only for the children who utilise the Starlight Express room at Princess Margaret Hospital, but also the direct impact it has on Synergy staff.

“They (Starlight) get benefits and we also give our staff an opportunity to actively participate and be part of a solution for some pretty sick kids,” Mr Mitchell said.

Mr Mitchell said he thought it was important for organisations that have a limited pool of funding for not for profits to focus on supporting one organisation in a greater capacity rather than divide a larger sum of money out to a number of recipients.

“You can add more value to one organisation, that means potentially, if you went pretty thin, you may not be able to effectively help anyone,” Mr Mitchell said.

Ms Grose said having a close relationship with Synergy is integral in developing the partnership; something that is helped by the strong staff engagement model that Synergy and Starlight work on.

“Their staff also get out there on Starlight Day and raise funds for us, in addition to the sponsorship, and through (staff) spending time in the Starlight Express room, they know where those funds go,” she said.

 

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