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“We need to unite as one voice”: the advantages of partnering

Cure Brain Cancer Foundation CEO, Michelle Stewart, spoke to Third Sector about the advantages of partnering

The key to promoting messages and increasing donor engagement lies in building partnerships with similar charities.

In some cases, this involves a global partnership to exchange unique information and experiences that can positively impact the way a message is delivered. This has been a vital driver in accelerating research projects and driving donations.

CEO of Cure Brain Cancer Foundation, Michelle Stewart, spoke to Third Sector on the advantages of partnering with national and international groups to create a global approach to overcome staggering brain cancer statistics.

“One of the biggest advantages is that brain cancer is a global platform that requires a global solution,” Stewart said. “To improve brain cancer survival rates, we need to unite as one voice. One organisation alone isn’t going to be able to make a difference.”

Stewart said that the advantages of partnering with charities in the brain cancer space are huge, adding: “We’ve obviously got a lot to learn and share with groups in other jurisdictions, and with other countries, with things that have worked for them and things that haven’t worked for them as well, and vice versa.”

She added it was really important that partnered organisations share the same messaging and are aligned in terms of statistics and statements about the issue. It’s also important to be aligned in terms of what the advantages of partnering are.

In one such case, Cure Brain Cancer Foundation is working with other organisations and groups, such as the Minderoo Foundation and the government, on the Australian Brain Cancer Foundation – a $100 million plan to double survival rates in 10 years.

As it stands currently, brain cancer kills more than 30 children in Australia each year and is the leading killer of people aged over 40 than any other type of cancer.

“We have all committed to funding on that same plan so its gone from being one of the most poorly funded cancers to having a national strategy with a commitment of funding behind it,” Stewart said, adding it has changed Australian research tactics.

In order to manage trust in a partnership, Stewart said it was important to be clear on what the objectives are and to be realistic on the different approaches of each group.

“Sometimes it’s not always appropriate for us to work together, so we work together where we can achieve an outcome,” Stewart said. “If it’s not appropriate, we respect what they’re trying to do and hopefully they respect what we’re trying to do.

“We don’t force that collaboration.”

In terms of donor engagement and building trust, Stewart added the aim of a donor is to see an outcome to the cause they are funding, and said: “If we are seen to be, and truly are, authentic about our desire to collaborate, donors seem to appreciate that.”

For organisations looking to partner, Stewart suggests being really clear on what the objectives are and adds the more specific the organisation the better. Groups have the option to start small, like with co-funding research projects, and then moving on.

“Once you do have partners with a similar goal, one of the first things that needs to happen is there needs to be an alignment of messaging,” Stewart said. “Everyone needs to be saying the same thing to make it easier to identify appropriate partners.”

To hear more from Michelle Stewart about how to develop partnerships in the not-for-profit sector, register for Third Sector Live.

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