Children’s Charity Merger Revealed
20 May 2015 at 3:09 pm
Two major children’s charities, Save the Children and Good Beginnings, have merged in a move they say will create one of Australia’s largest agencies working to improve the lives of children in disadvantaged communities.
Good Beginnings specialises in providing early intervention and practical parenting programs for children in disadvantaged communities, and Save the Children works around Australia and in more than 120 countries delivering humanitarian aid.
“There are no simple answers or quick fixes to the complex issues that children face in vulnerable communities. That’s why we have been working on a 10 year strategy,” CEO of Good Beginnings Australia, Jayne Meyer Tucker said.
“Now, by joining with Save the Children an opportunity exists to leverage our joint expertise and local knowledge. Together we can broaden our reach, drive systemic change and become greater advocates for children and their rights.”
Save the Children’s CEO Paul Ronalds told Pro Bono Australia News that both organisations have recognised the opportunity to work together on a shared bold goal for children in Australia.
“I think the (not for profit) sector needs to face up to the challenges we have, such as increased stakeholder expectations, the technical challenges of finding and retaining donors and maintaining programs as well as the tough funding environment,” Ronalds said.
“These issues are hitting us all at once and only agile organisations that adapt to these changing conditions will survive. All organisations need to examine what their value-add is and how this can affect their mission.
“The area we want to be best practice is in early childhood and we asked ourselves what it would take and it was clear that an increase in scale would make enormous sense,” he said.
Ronalds said that Save the Children’s Australian funding is $20million per year which is part of its global budget of $145 million and Good Beginnings had annual funds totalling $8 million.
“If we combine this we will have close to $30 million that we can do more with, to be effective and efficient and be able to trial innovation,” Ronalds said.
“The merger will allow us to invest in the technical skills around early childhood development including an evaluation that can demonstrate our impact. We really need to be clear about the impact of our programs and for policy makers to understand this, otherwise we will not survive.
Ronalds said that the merger decision was not about cutting programs.
“Yes, there will be efficiencies that allow us to be far more effective but we want to expand our programs.”
Ronalds said the tipping point for Save the Children was a desire by the organisation to increase its domestic footprint and increase its Australian programs with a strong emphasis on service delivery.
He said the organisation would continue to work with refugee camps around the world and its humanitarian work would continue to be a significant part of the organisation.
Ronalds said the organisation would also continue to work providing services for children at Nauru’s detention centre until its contract was up in October. But he said the end of the contract did not have any impact on the organisation’s discussions around the merger which began in July 2014.
“There are clear benefits from maximising and sharing resources which is where a lot of NFP merges are derailed.”
He said the commitment of Good Beginnings CEO Jayne Meyer Tucker was very focused especially with her bringing it to her board. “Without that focus it wouldn’t have happened.”
Ronalds said under the merger agreement a number of directors will join the Save the Children Board and the Good Beginnings organisation will become a subsidiary program-brand of Save the Children.
He said the two Sydney offices will become one, with some rationalising of back-office services to allow for general savings.
“Save the Children is 75 per cent Federal Government funded and Good Beginnings is 80 per cent Government funded.”
He said both organisations receive State Government funding nationally but both bring significant corporate engagement teams together, which brings an important source of ongoing funding along with the regular donors and those who respond to humanitarian emergencies such as Nepal.
After the last Department of Social Services funding round Ronalds said there was a small net increase for Save the Children.
“The decision to merge however, was made well before the DSS funding decision at Christmas.
“By joining forces we have a unique opportunity to combine our Australian programs for young children, have greater influence on Government policy and the systems that support children, and of course leverage the best of both organisations.
“The two charities have consulted extensively with major stakeholders on the merger and have found strong support for the purposes of the merger.”
Community Council of Australia Chair Tim Costello said a lot has been achieved through the reform agenda over recent years, including the introduction of the charity regulator and charities need to keep looking for ways to improve.
“Australia’s diverse Not for Profit sector plays a vital role and delivers outstanding value. This merger of Save the Children Australia and Good Beginnings Australia is a commendable reform and I wish to congratulate them on their vision to put children first.”
The two charities will officially join forces on July 1, 2015.