Flying Doctors Land Successfully in US
Monday, 18th February 2002 at 12:02 pm
It’s not hard to see why the Royal Flying Doctor Service is ‘up in the air’ about its latest achievement! It’s reaching for the skies with fundraising in the United States.
RFDS chief in Victoria, David Zerman can hardly keep the smile off his face since his organisation successfully obtained the vital American tax deductibility status called a “section 501c3”, along with the setting up of Friends of the Australian Flying Doctor Service.
Zerman who is also National President of the FI-A, has just returned from the States after working with a group of people who have taken the famous Flying Doctor Service into their own hearts.
Needless to say it wasn’t all smooth sailing. Negotiations got under way just before September 11th and then all fundraising eyes turned to the plight of those in New York and Pennsylvania.
Zerman took a deep breath and waited and now his patience has been rewarded.
Friends of the Australian Flying Doctor Service has been set up with four Directors (2 Americans and 2 Australians) with Zerman as President and CEO. The Board is now finalising the administration, legal, accounting and auditing structures.
Once operational, fundraising will take two tracks: applications to significant American Foundations and approaches to high network individuals.
David Zerman believes this is ground breaking work that is fully supported by his Victorian RFDS Board. RFDS used the legal services of lawyer Mark Owens who is the former head of the Not for Profit section of the IRS. Owens is a noted US media commentator on taxation issues relating to the Third Sector.
Zerman believes that using this special legal expertise allowed the Flying Doctors to obtain the tax deductibility status in just two months instead of what would normally take six months.
During his US visit, Zerman spoke at two functions organised by the America Australia Association in New York. This has led to the establishment of support groups in both New York and Los Angeles. (Perhaps some of Zerman’s success had something to do with the 20 kilograms of Tim Tam biscuits donated by Arnotts that he took with him to the States. He says the chocolate Aussie bikkies are the ‘drug of choice’ for Australians now living in the US – forget the vegemite!)
Friends of the Australian Flying Doctor Service will have a ‘virtual’ office in New York.
Zerman says Americans are already committed to philanthropy and were keen to become involved in the Flying Doctor Service and its track record as the world’s first airborne health provider that also covers the largest distances in the world.
The obvious question is whether all this effort will be worth it in dollars and cents at the end of the day?
Zerman says based on anecdotal evidence so far, Friends of the Australian Flying Doctor Service should raise AUD$1.5 – $2 million within three years. He says that within five years the organisation could be raising $5 million a year.
Zerman says the ‘streets of America are not paved with gold’, they are paved with people who want to support good philanthropy and the Australian Flying Doctor Service has the track record to succeed.