Benefiting the health and wellbeing of Tasmanians
Gaining maximum impact with minimal resourcing is always a challenge in business, and never more so than in the not for profit sector. And yet the achievements of the Royal Hobart Hospital Research Foundation somehow make it look easy, at least from the outside!
The Foundation was established twenty years ago to raise funds to support local medical research and to date, over $7m has been awarded to research projects and Fellowships aimed at benefitting the health and wellbeing of Tasmanians.
With this level of success many people would be surprised to learn that the RHHRF is comprised of only two full-time and two part-time staff. But as CEO Heather Francis points out, their achievements rely greatly on the contribution of the Foundation’s extended network, “I’m very lucky – I work with a wonderful team! Not just our small crew in the office, but a fabulous field of volunteers, partners, donors and bequesters.”
“We take our purpose of investing in local medical research very seriously. We’re passionate about what we do and it seems our sincerity in genuinely enjoying this pursuit helps to inspire others.”
Five years ago, the RHHRF and WLF developed a business partnership that has increasingly seen great results. “The Foundation has enjoyed a deep relationship with WLF, gaining advice around a range of tax issues from Marg and Claire, while Jo and the audit team have supported our annual external audit process, together with raffle audits over the years.”
“The aspect that I value most is definitely the depth of insight into the nature and needs of the NFP sector, particularly small organisations. There’s a sense of trust and respect from both perspectives – we know that the WLF team understands the work we do, and we always feel encouraged to ask for tailored advice. We know they really ‘get’ the Foundation and share our passion for our purpose too.”
Over the years the relationship has extended far beyond the usual accounting and audit needs, with Heather saying she’s delighted with the way the WLF team connect with the Foundation outside of the office.
“Our Easter Egg Hunt and Family Picnic Day at the Royal Tasmanian Botanical Gardens can get a little frenetic as 3500 patrons hunt down Cadbury eggs. One of the best things is knowing that Marg is in control of figuring out how many eggs to spread for each age group – I mean, if you can’t trust your tax advisor to get the numbers right on such an important issue, who can you trust!”
Chocolate eggs aside, the partnership has also seen some great outcomes in recent times. “When the RHH Research Foundation wanted to take a strategic approach to adjusting our taxation status with the ACNC/ATO, Marg and Claire were with us every step of the way, providing advice and guidance aimed to maximize the chance of success in what we knew would be a challenging pathway.”
“This project was a great example of an efficient partnership – together with Marg we planned out our best approach, then using WLF’s expertise in developing a framework to our submission, we developed this further with tailored information to demonstrate effectively the nature of our work and its impact across the community. I’m sure we wouldn’t have achieved the great outcome we did without support from WLF.”
With over six years as head of the Foundation, Heather has driven some exciting changes and developments in a highly competitive area. The Foundation has become known for a range of contemporary events that have built profile and engagement with local audiences. The team have also been working hard behind the scenes, assessing the best way to approach administration of the considerable grants program.
“We act as stewards for our donors’ and supporters’ funds, and it’s vital that we ensure this is invested into the research activities in the best way possible” remarks Heather. “There is enormous competition for grant funds and we need to ensure that our Foundation’s approach to research governance is of a very high standard.”
“We’ve undertaken a great deal of work in this area and will soon undertake a second meta-analysis of the outcomes from our funded studies, aiming to take a longitudinal view to testing the impact of our work to evolve this.”
Marg in action at the Easter Egg Hunt
The WLF team of volunteers