Michelle Stewart, CEO of Cure Brain Cancer Foundation, was recently interviewed by David Knowles of Koda Capital’s Philanthropy & Social Capital team on the How I Did It podcast. She emphasises the importance of investing in administration and fundraising costs as these are integral to supporting the cause and should not be viewed separately.
Cure Brain Cancer Foundation has a clear mission to improve survival rates from brain cancer, which kills more children than any other disease, and more adults under 40 than any other cancer. How has allocating adequate budget to administration and fundraising helped the Foundation grow to help more people in need? Michelle answers with the following:
1. Overhead costs are designed to help the cause.
Investing in administration ensures good governance. It allowed the Foundation to ensure that money was being handed properly, projects were well-managed and to audit accounts so that the public knew where expenditure went. Advocacy and research also led to the procurement of $100 million in government support.
2. The impact of the charity should be the focus not how much they spend on administration in order to achieve that impact.
Michelle poses the question:
"What reality is being achieved? Zero administration costs and achieving nothing does not make a good charity."
Ultimately, overhead costs are unavoidable. Therefore it is more useful that the mandate of a charity should be ensure that these costs are invested in better outcomes for beneficiaries. Donors can contribute to maximum impact by supporting effective charities, which requires investments in good systems and capacity building measures.