This year we pursued several measures to strengthen both our financial sustainability and our internal ways of working, ensuring we are resilient and ready for the future. The funding environment for not-for-profit organisations continued to present challenges, such as tightened government funds and increased competition from a growing number of new charities. Individual donors, governments and organisational funders have an abundance of options for where to invest their support, and to meet their expectations we focused on being transparent and showing evidence of our positive impact.
Diversifying our funding
One of our long-term goals is to reduce our reliance on any one source of income, expanding our methods of income generation so that we can be resilient to fluctuations in funding levels.
Currently our major funding source is government, accounting for 53% of our income. We have continued to build our income from alternative sources, including private ancillary funds, individual donors, trusts and foundations, and corporate partners.
Our growing focus on generating funds through philanthropy has been rewarding. Founded only two years ago, the Australian Red Cross Society of Women Leaders provided value of nearly $500,000 this year, plus tens of thousands of dollars of in-kind support. As well, our broader network of philanthropists and major donors provided over $2.6 million to support various programs, with a focus on disaster preparedness in seven countries.
At the end of the financial year we began restructuring our fundraising team into two distinct groups in order to work more efficiently and provide a more specialised service to our diverse groups of donors. We intend to continue to grow the number of loyal supporters who make recurring monthly donations, which accounted for over $42 million of donations this year. We also aim to welcome more individual donors through telemarketing and digital channels. We continue to be humbled by the generosity of Australians who leave gifts to Red Cross through a bequest – this legacy is vital to our everyday work supporting people in need.
Expanding the reach of Red Cross Shops
Our sales catalogue, online store and network of more than 150 shops raise money to support our humanitarian work in Australia and overseas. Our retail division achieved an 8.6% increase in income this year, reflecting dedicated efforts to broaden the impact of our store network through relocations and new store openings. We established new business partnerships and strengthened existing ones with retailers such as Country Road and Lendlease, ensuring a regular supply of products will continue to flow into our stores. This creates a level of quality that is hard for other charity shops to match and locks in Red Cross Shops’ reputation for designer-label treasures. We also partnered with ride-share organisation Uber for a clothing donation drive which brought in a massive 55,000 kilograms of goods.
We focused on opening new stores in NSW and ACT locations where there had previously been an absence of Red Cross Shops, recognising the value of our retail business not just for income generation but for building awareness of the work we do in local communities. We capitalised on opportunities to establish successful, low-cost temporary stores at the Queen Victoria Market in Melbourne and Erina Fair shopping centre in NSW.
In the coming year we plan to open six further new stores and relocate up to 12 existing premises for better cost effectiveness and sales opportunities. We’ll be focusing on strengthening our warehouse operations to deal with the high demand for stock and increase in clothing donations from generous community members.
Introducing new commercial services
While the for-profit training industry remains competitive and crowded, this year our training services gained an edge by diversifying into mental health training. We now offer mental health workshops for individuals and businesses, as well as new non-accredited first aid courses.
Our employment services division launched the Red Cross Right Fit program, helping us to connect 422 people living with disability to meaningful and sustainable employment – a constructive and ethical means of bringing in extra income to support our not-for-profit services.
Overall, our commercial services contributed almost $1.3 million (net) to support our humanitarian work.
Next year we will be working towards 22 specific new targets under Strategy 2020
We opened 5 new Red Cross Shops; our stores are now in every state and territory
Australians living with disability assembled 2,800 first aid kits, enabling them to earn an income while generating funds for Red Cross
Over 5,000 volunteers contribute to Red Cross retail (up from 4,500 last year)
Our business partners donated and raised over $500,000 for Australians hit by emergencies