17/07/2014 - 15:07

Telethon funds focus builds social connections

17/07/2014 - 15:07


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Iconic medical research institute is increasing philanthropic revenue.

Telethon funds focus builds social connections
POSITIVE TERRITORY: Nick Northcott is encouraged by the increase in donations and philanthropic support. Photo: Attila Csaszar

Iconic medical research institute is increasing philanthropic revenue.

Fundraising and sponsorship has, for the first time, become the Telethon Kids Institute’s largest source of revenue as its strategy to diversify funding takes effect.

Recently reported financial results for the 2013 calendar year show funds from donations, fundraising, bequests and sponsorship dominate the medical research institute’s revenue stream, accounting for 20.5 per cent, or $8.9 million, of the institute’s $42.9 million annual revenue.

The Telethon Kids Institute has historically relied on competitive grants from Australian research funds as its most significant source of income.

In 2012, funding from such grants accounted for 22.1 per cent of total revenue ($8.2 million). That dropped to 18.5 per cent of funding ($8.1 million) in 2013.

The institute retains a strong interest in obtaining competitive grants both in Australia and internationally, as they’re considered key to maintaining a strong reputation in the research field.

In total, competitive grants accounted for one quarter of income in 2013, down from 28.7 per cent in 2012.

The institute has received funding from the Channel 7 Telethon Trust since it was founded, but launched a strategy to increase other forms of philanthropic and corporate support with the entrance of Jonathan Carapetis as the institute’s director in July 2012.

Professor Carapetis also led the institute through a rebrand earlier this year, which involved a new name for the former Telethon Institute for Child Health Research.

At the time of the rebrand, Professor Carapetis said part of the motivation for adopting a less formal name was to show the community the institute was accessible, which was aimed at facilitating increased philanthropic and corporate support.

Chief operating officer Nick Northcott said the 2013 results were encouraging.

“Researchers have traditionally lived from grant to grant,” Mr Northcott told Business News.

“We want to give them more security and that will also help us to continue to recruit and retain the very best people to work at Telethon Kids and enable us to do the highest quality research and make a difference faster.”

Mr Northcott said the institute was focused on research projects that would benefit the community, and wanted to deliver this message in a way that would encourage support needed to fund those projects.

“We are adopting a very strategic approach to fundraising that places an emphasis on donor stewardship and collaborating with like-minded partners,” he said.

“But there’s no doubt that there are a lot of very worthy organisations asking for donations.”

The institute also recently completed a global recruitment drive for a leader of its new bioinformatics centre, which has been established as a result of direct philanthropic funding.

In 2012, Tonya and Malcolm McCusker committed $1.3 million for the establishment of the McCusker Charitable Foundation Bioinformatics Centre.

The centre focuses on using computing technology, mathematics and statistics to answer biological questions.

Timo Lassman has been recruited from a specific genomics science centre in Japan and will begin work at the Telethon Kids Institute next month.

Western Australia’s other major medical research institute, the Harry Perkins Institute for Medical Research, has also increased revenue gained through donations and philanthropy in recent years.

In 2012, it accounted for almost one quarter of total revenue compared with just more than 11 per cent in 2011.


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