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Strength in numbers in Child Cancer Research

Thoughts from Cure Kids CEO, Frances Benge

When it comes to achieving change and making greater impact, there’s always strength in numbers.

We see this in communities, businesses and brand partnerships. And now we’re entering a new era in which collaborations are evolving between like-minded charitable organisations.

Charities that share a similar vision and mission are realising the benefits that come from working together on projects and initiatives.

I see there being many advantages to a collaborative approach, including;

·        Achieving shared goals and working towards greater impact

·        Pooling innovation to make a tangible difference

·        Developing new ideas and processes

·        Sharing decision-making

·        Tackling significant challenges together

·        Sharing resources – from financial to staff, venues and infrastructure

·        Reaching a wider audience through marketing efforts, outreach and media exposure

·        Attracting philanthropy together with the same common purpose/outcomes

·        Making the charitable dollar more impactful for donors

·        Sharing marketing and event budgets and reducing other costs

·        Removing any duplication of work

A more collaborative approach gives organisations such as Cure Kids the opportunity to share common goals and bring about change at a faster rate than would otherwise have been possible.

One of our most recent collaborations has been with the Child Cancer Foundation on the Precision Paediatric Cancer Project which was launched in May. This project will allow children with difficult-to-treat and relapsed cancers to receive a new type of genetic testing and subsequently more targeted treatments here in New Zealand.

With Cure Kids and Child Cancer Foundation each contributing $625,000 towards the $1.25 million project, both organisations were able to tell the story of their unique clinical trial collaboration through nationwide media coverage. By taking a collaborative approach on funding, knowledge and resources, it has enabled us to enhance what we aim to achieve together.

This partnership between two like-minded organisations was borne from a common goal. We approached members of the New Zealand paediatric oncology community asking for a nationally significant, child cancer research project proposal that could be jointly considered by the two organisations. Among a range of possible research ideas, The Precision Paediatric Cancer Project was chosen because of the potential life-saving impact it could have for child cancer patients here on our home turf.

This is just one of a growing number of collaborations Cure Kids has embraced. Two years ago, we teamed up with Cystic Fibrosis New Zealand (CFNZ) to support research aimed at improving the understanding, diagnosis, therapy, and prevention of cystic fibrosis. The success to date has led to us now considering ways of upscaling the collaboration.

Our funding partnerships also extend across the ditch. We’ve been working with Red Nose Australia for the past three years to jointly fund trans-Tasman research that aims to improve the lives of babies and infants. Annually, this collaboration provides up to $200,000 for research investigating the cause and prevention of perinatal and infant death. Importantly, this initiative has encouraged research teams from New Zealand and Australia to explore opportunities to collaborate when addressing shared child health challenges.

We’re also working with Cure Kids Fiji, our sister charity with a separate Board of Trustees, to reduce the impact of rheumatic heart disease (RHD) in Fiji, which tragically affects 1 in 50 children. This is part of a larger partnership with the Fiji Ministry of Health, AccorHotels, New Zealand Aid, and RHD experts from Australia and New Zealand. The project uses research-based, best practise approaches to build and strengthen Fiji’s capacity across all aspects of RHD control and prevention.

 

Charities must embrace new ways to work smarter and more effectively. The New Zealand Cause Report (JBWere, March 2017), which looks at the not-for-profit sector, addresses ‘transforming business models through skilled partnerships’. The transition to a shared value model for all parties, is aligned to the Cure Kids’ strategic direction with commercial organisations – creating social and organisational value through like-minded partnerships.

With the ability for charities to collaborate pegged as one of the big developments we can expect to see in this sector moving forward, I suspect we’ll also see philanthropy being utilised more effectively.

It can certainly be a battlefield when it comes to attracting funding but if organisations can combine their shared resources and networks to raise capital together they will both work faster towards their common goal.

Donors see the collaborations we’ve run to date as favourable, making the dollar go further, and we’ve also seen collaborations attract a broader investment from corporates too. This is evident in the co-funding of the Precision Driven Health Partnership with Orion Health, and the ‘A Better Start’ National Science Challenge, committed to making a difference to the lives of young New Zealanders.

With two new charities being established every day and one charity for every 170 people in New Zealand, there’s plenty of opportunity for collaboration. Cure Kids works across all child health so just about every other charity that specialises in health could pose opportunities for us to explore collaborative approaches.

If we really want to have a tangible and sustained impact on child health, then it’s better to do it together and maximise the benefit of collaborations with other compatible charities than it is to try and do it on our own. We are going to have a much bigger impact with $1 million than we will with $500,000. For smaller charities collaborations could also lead to a more sustainable future.

As with any business arrangement though, there can be challenges, but if we are committed to bringing about real change and making a greater impact, collaborations are essential. For us at Cure Kids that means working with organisations closely aligned with our mission and goals to improve the outcomes for our future generations.

For more information on this topic check out the latest edition of Fundraising NZ Magazine out later this month. For details on how to support the research projects Cure Kids funds individually and in collaboration please visit here.

Child Cancer Foundation

Red Nose Australia

Cystic Fibrosis Association of New Zealand

Accor Hotels

Cure Kids

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