New ways to fund child health

New CEO of Starship Foundation looks for new ways to help unique hospital care for our children.

The Starship Foundation is changing the way it generates income for Starship Child Health in a far-reaching move to help address child healthcare in New Zealand.    

The Foundation's new chief executive, Aisha Daji Punga, has unveiled a direction and plan to move it into new revenue-generating territory and says that, in time, the Foundation will double its current annual income.

That will be no easy task.  Last year the Foundation accrued $13.7m (with a further $1.2m in gifts in kind) to assist Starship Child Health's vital role in New Zealand's paediatric healthcare, not just as a hospital, its outreach clinics, national guidelines and tele health services, but also as a major research and teaching institution.

It's not enough for Ms Daji Punga who says at least $20m per year will be needed by 2023 - and is proposing new ways to reach this level of funding.

The need runs deep. Just last year, Unicef's latest report card on global child health saw New Zealand rank low in a "league table" of 41 developed nations - 34th across nine child-relevant goals, including 38th for "good health & wellbeing", and 34th for "decent work & economic health" (owing to the 16 per cent of children living in jobless households).

In addition, the latest Children in New Zealand Communities Survey released earlier this year, found that while 90 per cent of New Zealanders felt responsible for children they knew or were connected to, only half felt the same way about young people in their community they didn't have a relationship with.

Daji Punga says the focus is now on offering better solutions and unlocking the generosity of all New Zealanders to provide better health and brighter futures for our children.

"Yes, New Zealand's child health outcomes are far from where they should be.  It's a complex problem with no quick fix.  We at Starship and the Foundation are an integral part of the broader solution. These solutions aren't just new buildings and sophisticated equipment - they include innovation, research and people. By investing in prevention, clinical research and innovation, we can bring new treatments, smarter ways to deliver them and help retain our brightest minds. Ultimately providing better care for Kiwi kids."                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  

How? Daji Punga says: "We looked at our current methods and asked ourselves what can we do to accelerate the change of pace and drive world-class excellence to support our national children's hospital.

 "We started from that best practice perspective, and decided we wanted to be philanthropic enablers and creators of value, and that's a very different thing.

"When you think about philanthropy, you often anchor yourself in fundraising, the art of soliciting funds. We can do far more than that - we can unlock the door to generations and communities if we do things a little differently.  In the future we will be looking at more self-sustaining income streams, social impact investment and new commercial proposition development."

Daji Punga says she and her team talked to donors and found "their most motivating aspect was not so much knowing where the money is going, but how they made an impact; made a difference." So the Foundation would be ensuring that the experience of giving was enhanced by the experience of seeing it make a difference.  

"It's about changing the conversation from what we do to why we do it - and giving our donors that impactful experience. We will be looking at ways to immerse our donors in what they are helping to achieve."

Daji Punga says Starship will always embrace fundraising and donations, but says their donors are principally interested in:

  • Prevention - "this is the number one area for them."

  • Ensuring no child is left behind in the community, and

  • Emotional care and family support.

So the Foundation is now working on various platforms and technology to make it easier to demonstrate to donors how their efforts are achieving that: "We want to make it easier for people to pay it forward."

With the extra money targeted, Daji Punga says areas of focus will be on developing a centre of excellence encompassing a clinical research facility, training and development, innovation and digital health accelerator and children's health collaboration hub.  This will enable continued focus on the well-publicised health and wellbeing problems in New Zealand including respiratory disease, oral care and diabetes/obesity, as well as many other equally important areas of child healthcare. They will also focus on faster recovery times, such as the recent investment in the O-Arm surgical imaging system which makes possible 3-D assessment during operations so the patient does not have to return to theatre for further surgery. 

Some not-for-profit organisations overseas have moved to similar models though it is relatively unknown in New Zealand. Many businesses are seeking to do good - but some want to link that to their business. One example from the UK is the Vodafone Foundation which spends about $90m annually across 27 countries after moving away from what a spokesman called "the cheque-book charity that has symbolised corporate giving in the past."

Daji Punga says "It's a testament to Starship that we have some of the world's brightest minds who are as committed as we are to providing better health and brighter futures for our children. That means ensuring New Zealand children are benefitting from the best equipment, people and training, the latest developments in research and best practice globally - when it's needed most.

"So now it's our job to take our donors on that journey too. Not just tell them their contribution is making a difference - but actually demonstrate to them the impact they're enabling. Every donation, big or small, touches the lives of countless children and virtually all aspects of life at Starship. We are grateful for every single cent and what it means for children's health. Ensuring that money is creating the very best outcomes for children is what inspires me every day. It's a really exciting time and I'm so proud to be leading the challenge."

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