2014 is a year of celebration for True Colours Children’s Health Trust as the charity marks 10 years in operation. Its role is a crucial one yet its only source of funding is financial support from the community. Why is it important for businesses to support such organisations?
On the evening of Wednesday 9 July, True Colours Children’s Health Trust celebrated their 10th anniversary in the beautiful surroundings of Ingham Prestige’s showrooms. This was a night to honour and thank those in the greater Waikato community who have supported and sponsored the organisation over the past decade. Cynthia Ward, CEO of True Colours says the gratitude to these supporters and sponsors is significant as the organisation has no direct government funding and is reliant solely on community generosity. “Because of this support, more than 1,100 children with serious illness and their families have gained the emotional and nursing care they have required, amidst the challenges and crisis such illness brings to the lives of families,” she says.
But what is it about True Colours that encourages businesses to provide such support?
Annah Stretton, fashion designer, entrepreneur and CEO of Stretton Clothing has been involved with True Colours as a sponsor since 2004, providing the charity’s premises on Joffre Street in Hamilton. “When I align myself and my brand with any charity, I need to be able to see that the vision is achievable and the leadership is strong; I absolutely saw both of these the day I met Cynthia,” Stretton says. “The charity was not only very necessary, it would also be likely to achieve its outcomes given Cynthia’s ability to lead, and her passion for children and her work.
“For me when I do align my brand with causes and charitable organisations, it will always be about support from a business and connection point of view, (sure there’s money as well) as that’s where I truly believe the absolute value can be added,” she explains.
Support from the outset
Elektron Group Ltd (previously known as Ward Chandler Waikato Ltd) has also been involved with True Colours since the charity’s inception 10 years ago.Director, Keith O’Sullivan,recalls when True Colours was first formed, it operated from the group’s boardroom while looking for suitable premises.
Since those early days, Elektron Group has provided a mix of ongoing support, from looking after the charity’s electrical, data and air-conditioning requirements, to supplying furniture and sponsorship of various fundraising and public profile events. The group also promotes the Trust to the community through a link on its website.
“When Cynthia outlined her vision of creating a specialised service to support children and their families facing serious illness it was clear there was a gap in the marketplace that wasn’t being filled by any other organisation. We had to get involved – those early years were always going to be hard,” O’Sullivan says.
“However, Cynthia had a formidable work ethic and a clear model which continues to this day; I certainly take my hat off to her! The team at True Colours has always been passionate, selfless and dedicated to the service they provide so remaining involved with them is, simply, done without question,” he says.
A special purpose
Riki Witehira of print and design bureau, CMYK, has sponsored True Colours since late 2012. CMYK provides print services for the charity, including stationary, promotional material, reports and the recently printed ‘Family Diaries’.
“We got involved with True Colours because they are an amazing organisation with a special purpose and we are in awe of what they do,” Witehira says. “Any help we can provide pales in comparison to the great things they achieve.”
Witehira says associating the CMYK brand with True Colours allows a small sense of pride, knowing they are able to help in some way. “We are so committed to our work that we are often left with little time to help in the community, but assisting True Colours means we can fit in some community service with our day-to-day operations.”
So, why is it important for businesses to support organisations such as True Colours? While the decision to assist a charitable organisation reflects commitment on the part of a business, it also opens up the opportunity for a rewarding partnership. True Colours is an outstanding example of a charity where every offer of assistance is valued and targeted for the benefit of the children and their families.
According to Stretton, it will always be important for companies and businesses from conception, to look at how they put the heart into their operations and it’s never just about a random dollar donation from time to time.
“Don’t always think that support is only about where you have had a personal experience,” she says. “Look for an organisation(s) that has a clear vision, is working in a field that you would like to make a contribution to and is well lead.
“Don’t think it will be expensive; it’s more about your time and expertise, and these are far more valuable skills to gift to another organisation.”