16/11/2015 - 16:25

Variety takes new funds route

16/11/2015 - 16:25


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Variety WA marks its 35th anniversary this year, and while it has plenty to celebrate, there have been challenges along the way.

FUNDING: Variety WA’s Michael Pailthorpe with volunteers at a recent event for its toy bank service. Photo: Attila Csaszar

Variety WA marks its 35th anniversary this year, and while it has plenty to celebrate, there have been challenges along the way. 

THE days when Variety WA could rely almost exclusively on its feel-good rally to fund its work with sick and disadvantaged kids are gone.

Variety WA chief executive Michael Pailthorpe told Business News the post-mining boom environment was challenging the 35-year old organisation’s traditional reliance on a funding structure driven by support from small to medium business owners.

Mr Pailthorpe said many of Variety’s supporters had found it increasingly difficult to commit to raising money and participating in a week-long outback rally.

In 2008-09, funds from the Variety Bash, made up almost 40 per cent of Variety WA’s revenue; by 2013-14, however, this had fallen to 26 per cent.

Variety has added new fundraisers to its calendar of events, incorporating what Mr Pailthorpe said were ‘twists’ to differentiate its offering.

For example its black tie ball was a ‘variety of chefs’ event, he said.

And for the first time this year, Variety WA ran its inaugural home lottery.

“It feels as if there’s just more and more events, so what we need to do is make sure that our events are just a little bit different,” Mr Pailthorpe said.

“We’ve had to be a bit more innovative in the way we fundraise.

“Certainly when we had our boom years from 2008 to 2012 (our funding) accelerated; it went up really, really fast. There were so many people that were doing so well, there was money everywhere.

“And then of course we started to see the first signs of slowing and we really found it was a double hit for us, because all these people who were giving us time and energy all of a sudden had to redirect that to their businesses … and there was less money.

“That forced our thinking in terms of how we diversify revenue.”

In another change, Variety has brought many of the services it provides children with special needs or illness in-house, where previously it considered applications for funding from other children’s charities.

The vast majority of the 37,900 kids Variety WA helped in 2014 participated in these in-house programs and services, such as its home modification service, camps, scholarships, toy bank, youth choir, and medical equipment donations.

“It’s enormously satisfying,” Mr Pailthorpe said about Variety’s ability to stay relevant in changing times.

“I think about the time I’ve been here, nearly nine years, and we’re way more diversified, we’re way more sustainable, I actually think we engage way more people and the most pleasing thing is we’re really hitting unmet need.

“There are people who are otherwise falling through the cracks and we are absolutely helping them in multiple ways right across this state.”



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