Giving back

Which charity is worthy of your money? How the Starlight Foundation competes in a cluttered space


In Australia there are approximately 54,000 registered charities sharing a total income of $134.5 billion.*

These charities are competing for a total of $12.5 billion in private donations and funds given by 14.9 million Australian adults (80.8% of the population) in 2015-16. The average donation was $764.08 and the median donation was was $200. Compared with 10 years ago, a smaller proportion of Australians are giving, but they are giving larger amounts.*

So how do charities like the Starlight Children’s Foundation compete for the charity dollar?

Deborah Hutton sat down to talk with Starlight Children’s Foundation CEO Louise Baxter about the importance of the charity dollar.

“It’s always a challenge and I think one of the things we’re really blessed with at Starlight is our brand,” Louise said.

“Our brand is really important to us. Everyone who is connected to Starlight is the brand.”

Louise said the whole Starlight experience was what made people want to give and the Starlight brand was in hospitals seven days a week which was great for exposure but sometimes could give the impression that there was enough.

“We need to grow our programs in the next five years by up to 70% to meet the changing model of health care,” Louise said.

“Last year we spent 300 days in the community with our healthy futures initiative which is supporting children who have some of the worst health outcomes of children anywhere in the world and that shouldn’t be happening here in Australia.”

Other interesting facts*:

  • In 2016 the Starlight Children’s Foundation granted  426,238 “wishes“, sent 130 “Captain Starlight” ambassador into hospitals around the country making 58,496 ward visits and bringing fun to kids too sick to leave their hospital bed. The organisation also has “Starlight Express Rooms” in hospitals in every state in Australia to provide a state of the art escape for sick kids and their families.
  • Almost two-thirds of Australia’s registered charities (63%) are classified as small, with annual revenue of $250,000 or less.
  • Of this majority, approximately one-third is very small, with annual revenue of less than $50,000.
  • Also, just under half of Australia’s registered charities (44%) employ no staff and are entirely volunteer-run.
  • Only a minority of charities are medium (17%) with annual revenue between $250,000 and $1,000,000, or large (19%) with annual revenue of over $1,000,000.
  • The smaller the charity, the more they rely on public donations and bequests. 28% of total income for a charity with a total income of $250,000 per year or less comes from donations and bequests.

Strategic partnerships & charity

In this part of our interivew with Louise, Deborah asks about how the Starlight partnership with Virgin Airlines contributes to their success.

“It’s a strong relationship because there is so much synergy because its all about the flights,” Louise said.

Louise said the children flying on Virgin for their Starlight wish carried a special boarding pass to alert the crew and the Starlight major fundraiser, the 5 chefs dinner included flights from Virgin as prizes.

Virgin Australia Public Affairs Manager, Jennifer Woodward said;

Starlight Children’s Foundation is a long-term strategic partner for Virgin Australia. Our partnership has grown from strength to strength over the years. As official Wishgranting partner, we delight in seeing our entire organisation get behind the great work that Starlight does, day in and day out, improving the lives of seriously ill children. The work we do with Starlight enables Virgin Australia’s staff to better connect with the community. The Starlight team are all fabulous to work with.


Balance Team

This article was written by the brains trust of Balance . We are a talented team of writers and contributors with real life experience and a passion for finding balance.

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