Where Do The Funds Go?

Black Dog Ride's Fundraising Efforts

Basking in the afterglow of our successful Top End 2018 mental health campaign, a prompt on social media caused me to reflect; it's time to explain where our participant's fundraising efforts will go.

As at today 10th September, we're yet to close the Top End 2018 fundraising portals; so a final figure is not yet known. However once we wrap the ride up, another vitally important component of our programs is the social impact our rides have within our own Black Dog Ride community (that's you!) and the communities we visit along the way.

Mindful that our primary mission is to raise of awareness of depression and suicide prevention, fundraising has been a welcome but secondary concern. We ride for a cause, not the applause, and I stand by the notion that having a conversation with somebody remains the most important thing we can do. That aside, on the WA leg of Top End 2018 this year, I was astounded at just how often people would rush up to us at fuel stops thrusting money at us. The support of these folks, the generous donors who make significant (and frequently anonymous) donations, the participants who set up peer-to-peer fundraising campaigns and garner support from their families & friends, and the myriad of small donors who willingly offer up their hard-won after-tax dollars to support us; is truly gratifying. It behoves us then, to explain "where do the funds raised go to?"

I talked about this at the Top End 2018 Finale at Crocosaurus Cove in August, but the 350 people there represent only a portion of our 16,000+ riders in our database so I needed to put it in writing too…

To answer that question, we need to consider a little history and a little contemporary news.

Historically, and prior to Black Dog Ride Australia Limited incorporating as a Charity in its own right in 2014, Black Dog Ride donated our funds to other very worthy organisations. We have over the years supported the Black Dog Institute, LifelineAustralia and Lifeline Networks, Headspace, Mental Health First Aid and many others besides. However as a charitable organisation in our own right, it makes less sense to continue to do that. There's no doubting that those organisations are doing some great and important works in the sector; but they're also amongst the recipients of an increase of $338M in sector funding announced by the Federal Government in May 2018. Details of that announcement can be found here: https://goo.gl/iFdSSk

Importantly, and as a charity in our own right holding both ACNC endorsement of our not for profit status; ATO endorsement of Deductible Gift Recipient status (DGR) as a health promotion charity; our Constitution empowers and compels the organisation to direct the funds gathered to health promotion activities.

A recent meeting of State Coordinators, Board members and Stakeholders within Black Dog Ride gathered in Sydney canvassed our plans for the coming three years. This will soon be available to all on our website as a publicly downloadable document detailing our 3 year Strategic Plan for the organisation. We'll notify everybody when its available via a newsletter and do hope you take the time to read it. One of the informing principles of that document is that the increase in sector funding is a sign that the awareness raising works conducted by Black Dog Ride and by others, is having an effect, at last. The government has taken notice; realises that this is an important community issue and is responding. As the sector changes, Black Dog Ride must adapt to stay relevant.

Arising out of an initial meeting in Fremantle last year and Sydney again this year, Black Dog Ride has recognised that our greatest strength, and our most important and relevant works are centred around Community Engagement. Whilst other sector-based organisations are concerned very directly with important research, resource and information collation, crisis care or education. Black Dog Ride has a different purpose. We are at our best when we're having conversations one-on-one that raise awareness and encourage help-seeking behaviour. We're at our best when we compel a whole community to get behind our cause. We're at our best when we're working with other organisations that do the same. So, rather than give our hard-won fundraising to other (already well-funded) organisations, we're turning our attention to working with and supporting smaller organisations that simply can't get on the radar of government at any level but whom are in dire need of grass-roots support - financially and otherwise.

So, in answer to the simple question "where does the money go..? I'm pleased to advise that we're well along the path to releasing and promoting a community grants model targeted to support organisations that might otherwise struggle to survive. In loose terms, at the end of a major fundraising activity such as the Top End 2018 just completed, a fundraising total will be declared publicly then made available for distribution. During that period, submissions for a number of predetermined grants will be sought from any and all organisations with strict criteria around qualification, submission, evaluation and award; and detailed reporting requirements for acquittal. We'll be looking for projects where Black Dog Ride can do more than just fund it, but rather, we'd seek to add value by becoming involved in a project - at a community level.

Put simply, we'll need to be able to answer the questions: What problem is to be solved; how much funding and support is needed to solve it; how can Black Dog Ride become involved with delivery; and how will we know when we've made a difference?

For the 1 Dayers held on the 3rd Sunday every March, it means that instead of having just one secondary beneficiary for each 1 Dayer region, we can invite any and all local community support groups whom have provided assistance to submit a grant request. Of course, I expect more applications will be received than we have grants available, so a transparent and merit-based assessment framework applied by objective people is essential. If a group doesn't get funded by this year's activities, they may get funded by next year's activities. Conversely, they may be able to apply for more funding than they'd ordinarily get from the proceeds of just a single 1 Dayer, so swings & roundabouts so to speak.

I feel a moral obligation to be able to provide you, our community, with the information you need to feedback to your supporters, and to provide the stories of how Black Dog Ride has made a difference. In doing so, we will enhance our position and take our place in the sector, playing to our unique strengths of community engagement. As I interact with other organisations, I'm frequently asked how we get the level of community engagement that we do..? It's you. You guys are our 'secret sauce' and I feel obliged to ensure you're kept appraised of what's happening.

The more detailed rollout plan is in development and not yet available for distribution; I expect however, that we'll have this up and rolling before Christmas '18. Stay tuned!

David Peach

Chief Executive Officer

Black Dog Ride Australia Limited.

For more information about Black Dog Ride as a Charity, read Our Charity here

For more information about Black Dog Ride's Mission, read Our Mission here