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State Asthma Foundations Merge to Form National Health Charity

16 October 2017 at 12:19 pm
Wendy Williams
A group of state asthma foundations have merged to form a new national health charity in a bid to provide nationwide support for people with asthma in the face of an increasingly competitive fundraising landscape.

Wendy Williams | 16 October 2017 at 12:19 pm


State Asthma Foundations Merge to Form National Health Charity
16 October 2017 at 12:19 pm

A group of state asthma foundations have merged to form a new national health charity in a bid to provide nationwide support for people with asthma in the face of an increasingly competitive fundraising landscape.

The forming of Asthma Australia Ltd was announced by Asthma Australia on Monday and is the result of a merger of Asthma Australia and the ACT, NSW, Queensland, SA and Victorian state Asthma foundations.

The aim of the merger is to create a “stronger, united, more efficient and effective” national health body, to support people with asthma, which currently affects one in nine Australians.

Asthma Australia Ltd CEO Michele Goldman told Pro Bono News they were all “seeking to achieve the same thing” and it made “good sense” to consolidate and deploy their resources against a common purpose.

“The asthma foundations were founded in the early 1960s and for over five decades they have been providing great support to the community and funding research to further our knowledge in the area of how to best diagnose and cure the disease,” Goldman said.

“But times have changed a lot over the last five decades and whilst we have evolved and done our best to respond to the changing needs of the community we find ourselves in a very different context today than the one in which the foundations were established.

“It just makes a lot of sense, rather than perpetuating a number of smaller independent organisations who all have exactly the same purpose, to consolidate our resources and explore how we can allocate them in much more effective and efficient ways to enable us to amplify the impact we have on the communities we’re aiming to serve.”

Goldman said the Australian fundraising landscape was becoming increasingly competitive which added impetus to the calls for a merger.

“In an environment where it is increasingly challenging to raise funds, this is one way we can work smarter, remove duplication, and be able to realise opportunities not afforded to smaller entities,” she said.

“It is becoming more challenging to raise sufficient funds to enable both the continued delivery of existing services, and the development of new services to improve care into the future.

“As a united, larger charity organisation, we are better placed to secure corporate support and increase funding opportunities through our national profile and consolidated fundraising initiatives.”

She said she expected the organisation to become more powerful as a result.

“Where there were limitations in working in a federated structure, or limitations in terms of the resources that a foundation in one jurisdiction or another jurisdiction had at their disposal to respond to needs, some of those barriers are now being broken down,” she said.

“We’ll have one national team and one financial pot of resources to work out how best to deploy that to best meet the needs of the community.

“So we’re able to work in a much more sophisticated and much more efficient manner and this will result in more services available to more people and improved and better quality services.”

But Goldman said the merger had not been easy to achieve and had required great amounts of “courage, conviction and collaboration” by the boards and staff involved.  

She said a successful merger depended on having “the right conditions and all the ducks lined up”.

“We are now five different entities and we’re coming together and everyone is at different stages of their journey, so I think the challenge is about being patient and bringing together people who are prepared to be collaborative, who are outcomes focused,” she said.

“There needs to be an alignment in terms of that ultimate objective to better serve their community.

“Because ultimately it requires us to work differently, and change is exciting to some but it can also be very scary and so there needs to be a real commitment and conviction to that vision and belief that we can be stronger together, to be able to make those compromises and changes and entertain periods of uncertainty and anxiety in order to reach a point where we are at and actually a further point where everything is really established and everything is working smoothly.”

She said there needed to be a clear vision about what the organisations are trying to achieve.

“There needs to be… a belief and conviction that together you will be stronger and more effective in achieving your purpose than you could be alone,” she said.

“So we believe that if we’re currently amongst ourselves raising x dollars and if the impact of our services is y, that the merged entity will be able to raise more funds and deliver more impact to the community as a result of coming together.

“I think if that’s not  there, then the hard work that is required, in order to work through all the difficult questions it is just too hard, and we started off with nine organisations exploring this merger, and we’ve got five that have the conviction to cross the finish line so I think that is evident of how challenging it can be and not everyone is at the same stage of the journey.”

She said she was “excited” about the next steps.

“I am excited that we have overcome the barriers of operating as part of a federation, and will be able to work as a more agile and innovative health organisation focused on supporting those who matter most – people with asthma,” she said.

“Asthma is a national health priority and as a united health charity with national reach we have a tremendous opportunity to deliver services with a greater impact.”

Goldman said she would encourage other organisations to consider merging.

“We can either all just be passive organisations on the trajectory where inevitably there is going to be a decline in our funding, and we see even amongst our own federated foundations, different foundations needed to restructure and downsize at particular points in their journey in order to continue to be able to exist and cover operating expenses,” she said.

“So you can either just continue on that trajectory passively or you can be really purposeful and say hang on a sec, we’re here to serve the community and if there is a better way to do that so we don’t have to reduce our scope and the number of services that we provide, then we have a responsibility to the community to do so.”

Following the merger Asthma Australia Ltd said they would also be announcing a new national corporate partnership in the coming weeks.

Wendy Williams  |  Editor  |  @WendyAnWilliams

Wendy Williams is a journalist specialising in the not-for-profit sector and broader social economy. She has been the editor of Pro Bono News since 2018.

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