National Children’s Charities Merge
20 May 2014 at 10:37 am
Two national children’s charities have joined forces in a bid to maintain their ongoing sustainability and growth opportunities for their work with sick children.
The SMILE Foundation which assists children with rare diseases has joined forces with Variety – 'The Children’s Charity' – which supports children with additional needs.
Paul Mullaly, from Variety, said the organisation was always seeking to build and extend how they support children with additional needs.
“Many of the children we currently support have complex and rare diseases, so it was a logical and positive process to enter into the discussions with the Smile Foundation,” Mullaly said.
“The goodwill, flexibility and trust built between Variety and Smile enabled us to ensure that the Variety Smile Medical Support Grant program and Case Management Service continue the work of Smile and are congruent with Variety’s goals and governance systems.”
He said that following the promotion of Variety’s NSW CEO David Small to an international role, Tam Johnston from the Smile Foundation has been appointed as the new NSW CEO.
He said the Smile Board originally approached Variety – the Children’s Charity NSW, seeking to explore an arrangement that would secure SMILE’s family relief and other key programs in an organisation that they felt was trustworthy and substantial.
“Across the Not for Profit sector there is quite rightly an ever present need to maximise back office efficiencies and effective reach, both financially and geographically,” Mullaly said.
“SMILE was looking for a good business outcome, as well as a partner that could continue to support the families SMILE has been so busy helping.
“Variety – the Children’s Charity NSW has been supporting children with additional needs in Australia for nearly 40 years. Recognising the need to continually improve the efficiencies and effectiveness in the sector, Variety is open to mergers with smaller organisations that have a specific focus on children with additional needs and whose goals are aligned with Variety.
“SMILE already knew Variety by reputation. Their board and staff knew that Variety NSW had experience in taking over the Princess Charlotte Alopecia Foundation and felt that it was a model of integration that fulfilled their needs.
"Variety already grants equipment to many children with rare diseases and conditions, so that historical overlap was important too."
Variety said some of the SMILE board would make an ongoing contribution to the work of Variety NSW, especially as the merger was bedded down.
“Our initial discussions focussed on the similarities between the two organisations and how the Smile grant and case management programs could fit with the Variety governance and systems. As those progressed, all concerned worked hard to develop the trust between the two organisations and enable the integration. This open approach helped the process be as streamlined as possible,” Mullaly said.
“The Smile Foundation first approached Variety NSW in September/October 2013. The in principle decision to move ahead was taken to each Board and approved at their next meeting.
“The MOU was drafted with wide involvement from both Boards and from key staff. The MOU was signed in December.
“The administrative planning took six months to ensure that the transfer would be smooth and that all the systems would be in place prior to launching the two key elements, the Variety Smile Medical Support Grants and the Variety Smile Case Management Service. This involved extensive consultation and liaison with key stakeholders.”
Key players from the Smile Foundation Board were Robert Williams, Denis Tracy, Helen Hamilton-James and Dr Jonny Taitz, all long-term directors of the Smile Foundation.
Key players from the Variety NSW Board were Chair Paul Mullaly, Grants Committee Chair Dr Amanda Mead and Mahesh Hettiarchi, all long-term Directors of Variety NSW.
Within Variety NSW, planning for the integration was shared between the CEO Tam Johnston, the Finance and Administration Manager and the Grants Manager.
“With Tam at the helm, we are confident that the future of SMILE, in its new home, is assured,” Mullaly said.